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Appalachian Business Decline and Closure: An Examination of Corporate Communication Practices in the New River Valley

Smith, Breyuana Appalachian Business Decline and Closure: An Examination of Corporate Communication Practices in the New River Valley. 2018. Radford University, Thesis. Radford University Scholars' Repository.

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Organizational changes occur in many forms and affect employees and employers in various ways. Of these changes, downsizings and closures are common because they are viewed as cost effective ways to reappropriate funds to other areas of need. For many organizations, layoffs are deemed necessary in order to remain in business and competitive in the workforce (Kim, 2003). The purpose of this study was to explore the channels of communication used by corporations in the New River Valley during layoffs that occurred as a result of downsizing or corporate closure. Fourteen participants, one manager who delivered layoff notices and thirteen employees who were laid off, took part in semi-structured interviews. Participants in the study were current and/or former construction workers, physician assistants, truck assembly plant workers, sewing machine operators, manufacturing plant workers, administrative assistants, chefs, explosive plant workers, and IT support. In addition to the interviews, examination of the organizations’ corporate social responsibility stances and statements of value were coded and analyzed using content analysis. The results revealed that overall layoff victims were disappointed in the lack of communication surrounding the layoff process and many were left totally in the dark. Ineffective communication habits from employers have long been linked to work environments and have caused increased absenteeism, disloyalty and disaffection. For a number of participants in the study, the poor and inconsistent communication habits at their jobs only worsened during the restructuring process. For many, the transitional period, combined with the lack of communication within the company, evoked feelings of confusion, insecurity, and anger. Although Kline (2006) found that most layoff victims prefer clear, direct communication, this study revealed that many organizations in the New River Valley from which participants were laid off did not communicate clearly, if they communicated at all during the layoff process. Failure to communicate during such crucial times cultivated an issue for the employees. An issue is characterized as a gap between corporate actions and stakeholder expectations (Berg & Feldner, 2017). Victims of layoffs in the NRV took issue with their employers’ failure to communicate the unfavorable direction of the companies and, ultimately, their individual employment status. Since layoffs and unemployment have sadly become characteristic of the New River Valley, it was surprising that little research existed on the communication tactics used by local businesses. This study sought to gain a better understanding of the layoff communication practices from the perspective of employees and employers. The data from the interviewees’ experiences and the literature on humane downsizing were used to compile best practice suggestions for future use, in the case that organizations in the New River Valley are faced with laying off employees. Still to this day, layoff remains one of the most common methods of downsizing used by organizations (Walker, 2015). While employees can accept the highs and lows of the economy, what they cannot accept is the uncertainty that accompanies a workplace plagued with layoff rumors. Employees want their organizations to demonstrate humane, sensible and responsible approaches to layoffs. The study can contribute to positive social change by identifying methods for organizational leaders to manage impacts of layoffs and implement effective communication strategies that may lead to reduced confusion, anger, and pain for laid off employees and a more productive work environment for surviving employees and managers.

Item Type: Thesis
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
Divisions: Radford University > College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences > School of Communication
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2018 14:13
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2023 19:33

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