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Do Institutionalized Traditions Matter During Crisis? Employee Downsizing in Korean Manufacturing Organizations

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  • Ekin Alakent
  • Seung-Hyun Lee

Abstract

This study examines the downfall of the permanent employment tradition in South Korean manufacturing organizations in the aftermath of the 1997 East Asian economic crisis. We explore whether organizations abandon their traditional institutionalized practices under discontinuous environmental change or despite the change continue these time-honoured practices. We examine both the organizational factors that inhibit lay-offs and performance indicators that trigger organizations to re-evaluate their lifetime employment practices under drastic environmental upheaval. We test our hypotheses on 574 Korean manufacturing organizations and find that under discontinuous change: (1) economic and institutional factors simultaneously apply opposite forces on organizational actions; (2) organizational factors such as poor performance on productivity and export create a need for headcount reductions while factors such as size, domestic ownership, government support, and unionization create social and institutional pressures that inhibit downsizing; and (3) prior experience with downsizing moderates the relationship between institutional factors and further downsizing. Copyright (c) 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and Society for the Advancement of Management Studies.

Suggested Citation

  • Ekin Alakent & Seung-Hyun Lee, 2010. "Do Institutionalized Traditions Matter During Crisis? Employee Downsizing in Korean Manufacturing Organizations," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(3), pages 509-532, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:47:y:2010:i:3:p:509-532
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    Cited by:

    1. Hicheon Kim & Johngseok Bae & Garry Bruton, 2012. "Business groups and institutional upheaval in emerging economies: Corporate venturing in Korea," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 29(3), pages 729-752, September.
    2. repec:spr:busres:v:10:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s40685-016-0041-8 is not listed on IDEAS

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