First Advisor

Donald Truxillo

Term of Graduation

Spring 2006

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Systems Science: Psychology


Systems Science: Psychology




Layoff systems, Dismissal of Employees, Employees -- Recruiting, Downsizing of organizations



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, iv, 207 pages)


Layoffs have become an increasingly common cost reduction strategy implemented by organizations. In addition to affecting those who lose their jobs or remain with the organization after a reduction, layoffs may also affect individuals outside the organization. A systems perspective on layoffs takes into account the various stakeholders who are affected by such an action beyond those traditionally studied. Job applicants are one group of stakeholders for which research on the implications of layoffs is lacking. The purpose of this dissertation was to examine the specific organizational justice factors of interpersonal sensitivity and information sharing in a layoff and their effects on subsequent attitudes and behaviors of future job seekers.

After being presented with one of four fictitious newspaper articles that described details about a layoff, participants were asked to respond to a survey containing questions regarding general attitudes toward organizations as well as thoughts specifically regarding the target organization and the way it managed the layoffs. Specific relationships were hypothesized to exist between the justice factors and organizational attractiveness, organizational relation expectations, and procedural fairness. Results indicated that the attitudes and reactions of participants toward organizations varied based on the levels of interpersonal sensitivity and information sharing. Moreover, the justice factors interacted to influence subsequent outcomes. Although they did not moderate the fairness-outcome relationships as hypothesized, the individual difference variables of equity sensitivity and employment goals did have significant main effects as well as some moderating effects. Lastly, organizational relation expectations did partially mediate fairness-outcome relationships as predicted.

This study represents an important step in advancing the limited literature on layoffs and job seekers, and illustrates that the effects of layoffs have implications beyond those individuals directly affected. There are several implications for research, including a further illustration of the complexity of the fairness-outcome relationship as a result of mediating and moderating effects. This study also bridges several different areas of organizational research, namely, layoffs, applicant reactions, organizational image, and recruitment, and highlights opportunities to further explore and integrate these diverse lines of inquiry. Additional implications are discussed for future research as well as management practice.


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