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Relationships, Layoffs, and Organizational Resilience: Airline Industry Responses to September 11


Author Info

  • Jody Hoffer Gittell
  • Kim Cameron
  • Sandy Lim
  • Victor Rivas


The terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 affected the U.S. airline industry more than almost any other industry. Certain of these companies emerged successful, however, and demonstrated remarkable resilience while others languished. This investigation identifies the reasons why some airline companies recovered successfully after the attacks while others struggled. Evidence is provided that layoffs after the crisis, while intended to foster recovery, instead inhibited recovery throughout the four years after the crisis. But layoffs after the crisis were strongly correlated with the lack of financial reserves and the lack of a viable business model prior to the crisis. Digging deeper, we find that having a viable business model itself depended on the extent to which positive employee relationships had been achieved and maintained over the long term. One implication of our findings is that layoffs, while reducing costs in the short term, may also undermine the positive relationships that are critical for achieving lasting recovery.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels in its series EERI Research Paper Series with number EERI_RP_2005_06.

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Length: 53 pages
Date of creation: 07 Apr 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:eei:rpaper:eeri_rp_2005_06

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Related research

Keywords: Relationships; layoffs; organizational resilience; terrorist attacks; aviation.;

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  1. William A. Galston, 2001. "Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(4), pages 788-790.
  2. Jody Hoffer Gittell, 2002. "Coordinating Mechanisms in Care Provider Groups: Relational Coordination as a Mediator and Input Uncertainty as a Moderator of Performance Effects," Management Science, INFORMS, INFORMS, vol. 48(11), pages 1408-1426, November.
  3. Jody Hoffer Gittell & Andrew von Nordenflycht & Thomas A. Kochan, 2004. "Mutual gains or zero sum? Labor relations and firm performance in the airline industry," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 57(2), pages 163-180, January.
  4. Samer Faraj & Lee Sproull, 2000. "Coordinating Expertise in Software Development Teams," Management Science, INFORMS, INFORMS, vol. 46(12), pages 1554-1568, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Martina Linnenluecke & Andrew Griffiths, 2012. "Assessing organizational resilience to climate and weather extremes: complexities and methodological pathways," Climatic Change, Springer, Springer, vol. 113(3), pages 933-947, August.
  2. Tania Marques & Isabel Suarez Gonzalez & Pedro Cruz & Manuel Portugal Ferreira, 2011. "Downsizing and Profitability: An Empirical Study of Portuguese Firms in 1993¡V2005," International Journal of Business and Economics, College of Business, and College of Finance, Feng Chia University, Taichung, Taiwan, College of Business, and College of Finance, Feng Chia University, Taichung, Taiwan, vol. 10(1), pages 13-26, April.


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