When it is especially important to explain why: Factors affecting the relationship between managers' explanations of a layoff and survivors' reactions to the layoff

Joel Brockner*, Rocki Lee DeWitt, Steven Grover, Thomas Reed

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

193 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent research has shown that subordinates are generally more accepting of their managers' resource allocation decisions to the extent that managers offer clear explanations (or accounts) of the reasons underlying their decisions. This study sought to delineate the conditions under which the clarity of managers' accounts is especially related to the favorability of subordinates' reactions. We hypothesized that when subordinates' need for information is high-i.e., when they are relatively uncertain about why the resources were allocated in a particular way, and when they attach greater importance to the resource allocation decisions-they will be greatly influenced by the presence or absence of clear managerial accounts. These hypotheses were tested in the context of a field study exploring survivors' reactions to the layoffs of co-workers. Survivors indicated how clearly the reasons for the layoff had been explained to them by management; they also reported how much their organizational commitment, work effort, and turnover intention had changed, relative to the prelayoff period. In general, the positive relationship between the clarity of managers' explanations and the favorability of survivors' reactions was especially pronounced under conditions of high uncertainty and high importance. The theoretical and practical implications of these results, and the limitations of the study, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-407
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume26
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1990
Externally publishedYes

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