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


  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Jody Hoffer Gittell & Kim Cameron & Sandy Lim & Victor Rivas, 2005. "Relationships, Layoffs, and Organizational Resilience: Airline Industry Responses to September 11," EERI Research Paper Series EERI_RP_2005_06, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.
  • Handle: RePEc:eei:rpaper:eeri_rp_2005_06

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. William A. Galston, 2001. "Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(4), pages 788-790.
    2. Samer Faraj & Lee Sproull, 2000. "Coordinating Expertise in Software Development Teams," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(12), pages 1554-1568, December.
    3. 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, vol. 48(11), pages 1408-1426, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:kap:policy:v:50:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11077-016-9273-x is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Amankwah-Amoah, Joseph, 2012. "The evolution of lateral hiring and skill formation in the global airline industry, 1940–2010," MPRA Paper 63866, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Martina Linnenluecke & Andrew Griffiths, 2012. "Assessing organizational resilience to climate and weather extremes: complexities and methodological pathways," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 113(3), pages 933-947, August.
    4. 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, vol. 10(1), pages 13-26, April.
    5. Agarwal, Promila, 2014. "Understanding Psychological Contract In Pharmaceutical And Fmcg Industry: A Comparative Analysis," IIMA Working Papers WP2014-12-02, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Research and Publication Department.

    More about this item


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

    JEL classification:

    • L93 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Air Transportation


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