Safety in Numbers: Downsizing and the Deinstitutionalization of Permanent Employment in Japan:

Published on Dec 1, 2001in Administrative Science Quarterly8.02
· DOI :10.2307/3094826
Christina L. Ahmadjian6
Estimated H-index: 6
(University of California, Berkeley),
Patricia Robinson3
Estimated H-index: 3
(University of California, Berkeley)
This study examines the role of downsizing in the deinstitutionalization of permanent employment among publicly listed companies in Japan between 1990 and 1997. We found that although economic pressure triggered downsizing, social and institutional pressures shaped the pace and process by which downsizing spread. Large, old, wholly domestically owned, and high-reputation Japanese firms were resistant to downsizing at first, as were firms with high levels of human capital, as reflected by high wages, but these social and institutional pressures diminished as downsizing spread across the population. We argue that this breakdown of social constraints was due to a safety-in-numbers effect: as downsizing became more prominent, the actions of any single firm were less likely to be noticed and criticized, and the effect of the institutional factors that once constrained downsizing diminished.
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  • Citations (284)
Published on Dec 1, 2000in Administrative Science Quarterly8.02
Thomas D'Aunno31
Estimated H-index: 31
Melissa J. Succi7
Estimated H-index: 7
(Chapman University),
Jeffrey A. Alexander43
Estimated H-index: 43
(UM: University of Michigan)
This paper focuses on a radical change, in which organizations abandon an institutionalized template for arranging their core activities, that is likely to occur in organizational fields that have strong, local market forces and strong but heterogeneous institutional forces. We examine the role of market forces and heterogeneous institutional elements in promoting divergent change in core activities among all U.S. rural hospitals from 1984 to 1991. Results support the view that divergent change ...
Published on Dec 1, 1998in Administrative Science Quarterly8.02
Martin Ruef21
Estimated H-index: 21
W. Richard Scott40
Estimated H-index: 40
Using data on 143 hospital organizations, this article examines the antecedents and effects of two forms of organizational legitimacy (managerial and technical) over a 46-year period. Results show that both the managerial and technical forms provide notable improvements in organizational survival chances but that the strength of each effect varies over time depending on the nature of the institutional environment. Variation also appears in the antecedents of legitimacy - for example, the ability...
Published on Dec 1, 1998in Academy of Management Journal7.19
Matthew S. Kraatz15
Estimated H-index: 15
(UIUC: University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign)
A study of 230 private colleges over 16 turbulent years supports two arguments: (1) Strong ties to other organizations mitigate uncertainty and promote adaptation by increasing communication and information sharing. (2) Networks can promote social learning of adaptive responses, rather than other, less productive, forms of interorganizational imitation. Colleges that were members of smaller, older, and more homogeneous intercollegiate consortia were more likely to undertake fundamental curriculu...
Published on Dec 1, 1997in Strategic Management Journal5.57
Peggy M. Lee14
Estimated H-index: 14
(Emory University)
Downsizing and layoffs are an important mechanism for U.S. firms to cope with their strategic and economic environment. In contrast, the Japanese tradition of lifetime employment limits the ability of firms to employ layoffs as a strategic measure, relegating its use to conditions of financial distress. This paper provides the first comparison of layoffs in Japan and the United States and examines stock price reactions to layoff announcements in each country from 1990 to 1994. Agency theory and ...
Published on Oct 1, 1997in Journal of Financial Economics4.69
Jun-Koo Kang28
Estimated H-index: 28
(College of Business Administration),
Anil Shivdasani22
Estimated H-index: 22
(UNC: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
This paper documents the restructuring of 92 Japanese corporations that experienced a substantial decline in operating performance during 1986 to 1990. We find that these Japanese firms implement a number of downsizing measures such as asset sales, plant closures, and employee layoffs. Firms also respond by expanding and diversifying their operations, as well as by restructuring their internal operations. Compared to a sample of US firms that experience a similar decline in operating performance...
Published on Jan 22, 1998in OUP Catalogue
Clair Brown13
Estimated H-index: 13
Michael Reich50
Estimated H-index: 50
+ 1 AuthorsYoshifumi Nakata7
Estimated H-index: 7
(Dodai: Doshisha University)
In Work and Pay in the United States and Japan, authors Clair Brown, Yoshifumi Nakata, Michael Reich, and Lloyd Ulman provide an integrated and detailed analysis of the components of firm human resources systems in the US and Japan. Drawing on data obtained from fieldwork in comparable establishments in these two countries, as well as from national sources, this work examines the relationship between company practices and national economic institutions. The authors address a number of key questi...
Published on Sep 1, 1997in Social Forces2.29
Art Budros4
Estimated H-index: 4
(McMaster University)
Since a new capitalism dominates economic life in America, we need to explain the development of the new economy's features. Although such work has begun, a core feature of the economy, downsizing has been understudied, even though this phenomenon has eliminated some ten million U.S. jobs and generally has had negative human and organizational effects. In particular little effort has been made to explore why firms downsize in the first place. Therefore, in this article the author examines the ca...
Published on Jul 1, 1997in American Journal of Sociology4.46
Gerald F. Davis35
Estimated H-index: 35
(Columbia University),
Henrich R. Greve43
Estimated H-index: 43
Changes in corporate governance practices can be analyzed by linking the adaptations of individual firms to the structures of the networks in which firms' decision makers are embedded. Network structures determine the speed of adaptation and ultimate patterns of prevalence of governance practices by exposing a firm to particular role models and standards of appropriateness. The authors compare the spreads of two governance innovations adopted in response to the 1980s takeover wave: poison pills ...
Published on May 1, 1997in Academy of Management Perspectives3.86
Tomasz Mroczkowski3
Estimated H-index: 3
Masao Hanaoka3
Estimated H-index: 3
Executive Overview Unprecedented competitive pressures are forcing companies around the world to continually cut costs, restructure, and often to downsize their workforce. In America alone, 3.1 million workers have lost jobs since the beginning of the decade.1 In Latin American and East European economies undergoing a transition from a state-dominated to a market system, privatization brings about pressures for employment reduction. Even highly developed countries like Sweden and Japan, which ha...
Published on Oct 1, 1996in American Sociological Review5.39
Matthew S. Kraatz15
Estimated H-index: 15
(NU: Northwestern University),
Edward J. Zajac46
Estimated H-index: 46
(UPenn: University of Pennsylvania)
While the new institutionalism has emerged as a dominant theory of organization-environment relations, very little research has examined its possible limits. Under what circumstances might the neoinstitutional predictions regarding organizational inertia, institutional isomorphism, the legitimacy imperative, and other fundamental beliefs be overshadowed by more traditional sociological theories accentuating organizational adaptation, variation, and the role of specific global and local technical...
Cited By284
Published on 2019in Economic & Industrial Democracy1.56
Jonathan Morris22
Estimated H-index: 22
(Cardiff University),
John Hassard34
Estimated H-index: 34
(University of Manchester)
+ 1 AuthorsTakahiro Endo (Hitotsubashi University)
Published on 2019in Business Ethics: A European Review2.92
Maria J. Sanchez-Bueno9
Estimated H-index: 9
(Charles III University of Madrid),
Fernando Muñoz-Bullón14
Estimated H-index: 14
(Charles III University of Madrid),
Jose I. Galan13
Estimated H-index: 13
(University of Salamanca)
Published on Aug 20, 2019in Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management1.36
Zhimei Yuan (ECUST: East China University of Science and Technology), Yi Guo (ECUST: East China University of Science and Technology), Xingdong Wang (JXAU: Jiangxi Agricultural University)
Published on Nov 24, 2017in British Journal of Management2.75
Sara Chaudhry1
Estimated H-index: 1
Jill Rubery51
Estimated H-index: 51
(University of Manchester)
Published on Jun 1, 2019in Information & Management4.12
José Céspedes-Lorente15
Estimated H-index: 15
(UAL: University of Almería),
Amalia Magán-Díaz1
Estimated H-index: 1
(UAL: University of Almería),
Ester Martínez-Ros14
Estimated H-index: 14
(ISCIII: Instituto de Salud Carlos III)
Abstract Recent literature analyses the economic effects of employee downsizing on organizations under a contingent framework. Information technology (IT) can be considered a relevant factor for organizations that downsize. IT could enhance knowledge management, innovation management and organizational learning. Given the damage produced by downsizing on these organizational capabilities, the aim of this research is to study the moderating role of the implementation level of IT in the relationsh...
Published on Jun 1, 2019in Sport Management Review2.14
Nite Calvin (UNT: University of North Texas), Ige Abiodun (U of A: University of Alberta), Washington Marvin (U of A: University of Alberta)
Abstract High-profile sport governance associations tend to remain intact despite numerous issues that would predict their demise. As such, these types of associations offer valuable contexts for understanding institutional maintenance work. The authors conducted a historical case study of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the U.S. More than 7000 pages of documents spanning more than 100 years were analyzed to document how the NCAA rose to dominance in a contested field and ...
Published on Jun 1, 2019in Administrative Science Quarterly8.02
Aharon Yehuda Cohen Mohliver2
Estimated H-index: 2
(LBS: London Business School)
I study the role of external auditors in the diffusion of stock-option backdating in the U.S. to explore the role of professional experts in the diffusion of innovative practices that subvert stakeholders’ interests. Practices that are eventually accepted as misconduct may emerge as liminal practices—ethically and legally questionable but not clearly illegitimate or outlawed—and not be categorized as misconduct until social control agents notice, scrutinize, and react to them. I examine how the ...
Published on May 1, 2019in Journal of Management9.06
Matthias Brauer9
Estimated H-index: 9
(UMA: University of Mannheim),
Martin Zimmermann1
Estimated H-index: 1
(UMA: University of Mannheim)
Building on behavioral decision-making theory, we study the extent to which current industry downsizing intensity, changes in future macroeconomic outlook, and a firm’s past performance trend influence the relationship between downsizing magnitude and investor response. Based on the analysis of a large-scale sample of downsizing announcements in the United States over a period of 12 years, our results indicate that negative investor responses to downsizings are amplified in periods of industry d...
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