Job uncertainty and personal control during downsizing: A comparison of survivors and victims

Neil Paulsen, Victor J. Callan, Tim A. Grice, David Rooney, Cindy Gallois, Elizabeth Jones, Nerina L. Jimmieson, Prashant Bordia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


This study developed and tested a model of job uncertainty for survivors and victims of downsizing. Data were collected from three samples of employees in a public hospital, each representing three phases of the downsizing process: immediately before the announcement of the redeployment of staff, during the implementation of the downsizing, and towards the end of the official change programme. As predicted, levels of job uncertainty and personal control had a direct relationship with emotional exhaustion and job satisfaction. In addition, there was evidence to suggest that personal control mediated the relationship between job uncertainty and employee adjustment, a pattern of results that varied across each of the three phases of the change event. From the perspective of the organization's overall climate, it was found that levels of job uncertainty, personal control and job satisfaction improved and/or stabilized over the downsizing process. During the implementation phase, survivors experienced higher levels of personal control than victims, but both groups of employees reported similar levels of job uncertainty. We discuss the implications of our results for strategically managing uncertainty during and after organizational change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-496
Number of pages34
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Control
  • Downsizing
  • Survivors
  • Uncertainty
  • Victims


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