Living on Both Sides of the Fence: A Phenomenological Study of Human Resource Development Professionals as Downsizing Survivors and Strategic Human Resource Development Facilitators Dissertation

thesis or dissertation chair

fiu authors

  • Nackoney, Claire K


  • This phenomenological study explored how HR professionals who identified themselves as facilitators of strategic HRD (SHRD) perceived the experience of being an organizational agent-downsizing survivor. Criterion and snowball sampling were used to recruit 15 participants for this study. A semi-structured interview guide was used to interview participants. Creswell’s (2007) simplified version of Moustakas’s (1994) Modification of the Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen Method of Analysis of Phenomenological Data was used to analyze the data. Four main themes and corresponding sub-themes emerged from an inductive data analysis. The four main themes were a) the emotionality of downsizing, b) feeling responsible, c) choice and control, and d) possibilities for growth. Participants perceived downsizing as an emotional organizational change event that required them to manage their own emotions while helping others do the same. They performed their roles within an organizational atmosphere that was perceived as chaotic and filled with apprehension, shock, and a sense of ongoing loss, sadness and grieving. They sometimes experienced guilt and doubt and felt deceptive for having to keep secrets from others when planning for downsizing. Participants felt a strong sense of responsibility to protect employees emotionally, balance employee and organizational interests, and try to ensure the best outcomes for both. Often being there for others meant that they put on their games faces and took care of themselves last. Participants spoke of the importance of choosing one’s attitude, being proactive rather than reactive, and finding ways to regain control in the midst of organizational crisis. They also perceived that although downsizing was emotionally difficult to go through that it provided possibilities for self, employee, and organizational growth.

publication date

  • November 7, 2012


  • Downsizing
  • Organizational Change
  • Strategic HRD

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)