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Patterns of Restructuring: The U.S. Class 1 Railroads from 1984 to 2004

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  • Friebel, Guido
  • McCullough, Gerard
  • Padilla Angulo, Laura

Abstract

After deregulation in 1980, competitive pressures forced the large U.S. freight railroads to restructure. Much attention has focused on defensive (cost-cutting) restructuring: until 2004 employment was reduced by 60%, and railroads abandoned many of their lines. Less attention has been given to strategic restructuring: many firms changed the skill structure of employment and their output mix. We investigate the effects of defensive and strategic restructuring on financial performance between 1984 and 2004. In a simple regression, line abandonments (reduction of network size) have positive effects on performance but employment reductions do not. Controlling for the interaction between defensive and strategic restructuring, however, changes the picture significantly. Employment reductions then do have positive performance effects. There are also significant complementarities between defensive restructuring and strategic changes in skill and output mix. We provide the first in-depth analysis of the anatomy of restructuring in this important industry. Our analysis re-enforces the view that downsizing works best when accompanied by strategic restructuring.

Suggested Citation

  • Friebel, Guido & McCullough, Gerard & Padilla Angulo, Laura, 2008. "Patterns of Restructuring: The U.S. Class 1 Railroads from 1984 to 2004," CEPR Discussion Papers 6836, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6836
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Friebel, Guido & Magnac, Thierry, 2007. "Public Servants: a Competitive Advantage for Public Firms?," IDEI Working Papers 495, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    2. Friebel, Guido & Heinz, Matthias & Zubanov, Nick, 2016. "The Effect of Announced Downsizing on Workplace Performance: Evidence from a Retail Chain," IZA Discussion Papers 9739, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Laura Padilla Angulo, 2013. "Labour inputs substitution during corporate restructuring: a translog model approach for US freight railroads," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(18), pages 2547-2562, June.
    4. Guido Friebel & Gerard McCullough & Laura Padilla, 2016. "Product Market Deregulation's Winners and Losers: US Railroads between 1981 and 2001," Working Papers 2016-005, Universidad Loyola Andalucía, Department of Economics.
    5. repec:taf:applec:45:y:2013:i:18:p:2547-2562 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    defensive and strategic restructuring; downsizing; labour effects of deregulation; panel data;

    JEL classification:

    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • L92 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Railroads and Other Surface Transportation

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