Downsizing, Ideology and Contracts: A Chinese Perspective

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The purpose of this paper is to explore the effects of three managerial ideologies on the degree of employment contract breach perceived in connection with a downsizing.

Surveys were used to collect data from southwest China. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to explore the impact of three managerial ideologies on the perceived employment contract breach in connection with downsizing.

Results suggest that a strong belief in the ideology of market competition reduces an individual's perception that downsizing constitutes a breach of the employment contract between employer and employee. By contrast, a belief in employee worth has the opposite effect, strengthening the believer's perception that downsizing constitutes an employment contract breach. Belief in the third ideology, the ideology of shareholder interest, appears to have no influence on whether respondents perceived downsizing as an employment contract breach.
Practical implications

The results are important for understanding the way employees interpret common business practices like downsizing. Given the accumulation of enough confirmatory results, findings from studies like this paper might be used to inform the practice of management, which might result in a more satisfied and better performing workforce.

This paper contributes to the literatures on organizational downsizing and business ideologies. Specifically, it investigates ideological beliefs and their effects on perceptions of downsizing in a new arena – a country that is not used to the concepts of market competition and shareholder interest, and one that has only experienced large‐scale layoffs in very recent times. The view of the western business concepts such as psychological contract within the context of traditional Chinese philosophies and value systems provides in‐depth understanding of the challenges facing today's transitional economies such as China.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChinese Management Studies
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)119-140
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Entrepreneurship - Downsizing, China, Newly industrialized economies, Breach of contract, Employment contracts