Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Business Honours


School of Business and Law

First Supervisor

Dr Yuliani Suseno

Second Supervisor

Dr Denise Gengatharen


Downsizing has become an increasingly widespread organisational strategy to reduce costs in order to improve performance and remain globally competitive. However, the negative effects associated with survivor syndrome, a term used to describe a set of attitudes, feelings and perceptions that occur in employees who remain within an organisation following involuntary dismissal, continue to plague many organisations post-downsizing. Despite this prevalence of downsizing, little attention has been paid to explore the interrelationships between downsizing, occupational stress and organisational commitment of those who remain. Thus, the purpose of this research is to understand the effects of downsizing on survivors’ occupational stress and organisational commitment. The research questions explore this relationship from the viewpoint of eight academics from within one Western Australian (WA) education institution who experienced changes following the downsizing process in terms of an increased workload with less recognition and support. Data was collected via semi-structured interviews and was analysed using thematic analysis to identify common themes and patterns. Three significant findings emerged: (a) employees experienced symptoms of survivor syndrome including increased insecurity, decreased morale and several negative emotions associated with the downsizing; (b) the downsizing produced an increase in perceived occupational stress among participants; and; (c) participants’ increased occupational stress directly affected their organisational commitment, although the degree of impact varied. The findings from this study may potentially impact organisational change by helping to minimise the effects of survivor syndrome resulting from organisational change, by understanding the impact of downsizing on occupational stress and organisational commitment. This study also highlights the need for organisations to increase communication and transparency and encourage employee participation throughout the entire process to help to minimise the negative effects associated with downsizing.


Thesis Location