A phenomenological study into the experiences of retrenchment implementers

Westermann-Winter, Birgit (2007-03)

Thesis (MA(Industrial Psychology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.


Increased globalisation and competition have implications for organisational renewal and change and increasingly cost cutting, by retrenching employees, is part of the search for competitive advantage and sustainability. Within the South African context, retrenchments are no exception. The study explored the experiences of those who are tasked with the role of implementing the retrenchment, the so-called retrenchment implementers. Despite implementers being key to ensuring organisational success and profitability in the aftermath of retrenchment, research on their experiences is limited not only internationally, but also locally. The study was conducted amongst participants employed at various South African organisations. Qualitative data was obtained via semi-structured interviews with the implementers of retrenchments. Following content analysis, three key themes emerged: implementers’ experiences of procedural aspects as per s189 and s189A of the Labour Relations Act 66, of 1995 (as amended); implementers’ personal experiences of performing the retrenchment act and organisational and personal enabling strategies to assist with preparing implementers for the retrenchment task. Results indicate mixed responses in terms of complying with the relevant legislation. Insofar as their personal experiences are concerned, results indicate that while some implementers had found ways to adjust to their managerial function of implementing retrenchments, others experienced discomfort with their role, suffering from amongst others guilt and feelings of responsibility, role conflict, role overload, decreased emotional well being, a sense of isolation, negative self-perceptions and feelings of job insecurity. In the majority of cases, implementers experienced limited organisational emotional support and assistance in dealing with their emotions during the retrenchment conversation. These results support the limited non-South African literature. The results from the present study also added insight into the ways in which implementers are personally prepared for their role as well as ways in which organisations can assist them emotionally for their task.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/2744
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