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The Dynamics of Delayering: Changing Management Structures in Three Countries

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  • Craig R. Littler
  • Retha Wiesner
  • Richard Dunford
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    Abstract

    The 1990s witnessed significant changes in organizational design philosophy. Unique to the 1990s were prescriptions for restructuring involving delayering (the planned vertical compression of managerial levels of hierarchy) (Keuning and Opheij, 1994; Peters, 1992). What did this mean in practice? The current understanding of delayering can be encapsulated in a 'delayering thesis'. However, outside of the USA and UK there has been limited study and measurement of the extent and effects of delayering. This paper delineates trends in delayering based on surveys of 2964 organizations across three countries and assesses the effects in terms of management structures, workloads, productivity, and the notion of 'survivor syndrome'. The extent of a subsequent phase of 'relayering' is examined. It concludes that delayering has been widespread as an organizational strategy; that there are few signs of a delayering-relayering cycle, but the effects in relation to managers was a collapse of commitment in Australia and South Africa. However, there were significant differences in New Zealand. A downsizing/delayering model is discussed. Copyright 2003 Blackwell Science Asia Pty. Ltd..

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Journal of Management Studies.

    Volume (Year): 40 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 2 (03)
    Pages: 225-256

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    Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:40:y:2003:i:2:p:225-256

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    Cited by:
    1. Parker, Simon C, 2009. "Why do small firms produce the entrepreneurs?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 484-494, June.
    2. De Fraja, Gianni, 2004. "Hierarchies in organisations and labour market competition," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(6), pages 669-686, December.
    3. Feng Wei & Steven Si, 2013. "Tit for tat? Abusive supervision and counterproductive work behaviors: The moderating effects of locus of control and perceived mobility," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 30(1), pages 281-296, March.
    4. Dieter Kuhn, 2011. "Delayering and Firm Performance: Evidence from Swiss firm-level Data," Working papers 2011/02, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.

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