Downsizings, mergers, and acquisitions

LaVerne Shook (Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, USA)
Gene Roth (Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, USA)

Journal of European Industrial Training

ISSN: 0309-0590

Publication date: 1 March 2011



This paper seeks to provide perspectives of HR practitioners based on their experiences with mergers, acquisitions, and/or downsizings.


This qualitative study utilized interviews with 13 HR practitioners. Data were analyzed using a constant comparative method.


HR practitioners were not involved in planning decisions related to downsizings, mergers, and/or acquisition. Neither the practitioners in this study nor other members of the HR team in their organizations had an upfront due diligence role in these change initiatives.

Research limitations/implications

Additional research is needed to guide HRD practitioners in repositioning their roles so that they are more central to an organization's strategic decisions. Given the method of this study, the findings are not intended for generalization to larger populations. Future research should address the needs of HRD practitioners who are affected by downsizings, mergers, and/or acquisitions.

Practical implications

The primary role of HR practitioners need to be more than transitional activities after these change events are announced. Rather, these practitioners need opportunities during the planning stages to ensure that training and development supports the financial goals of these change events. After these change events occur, HRD practitioners need support for interventions to counter the impact of dismissed cultural artifacts and broken human links.


Study participants explained that failure to identify employee issues in the pre‐downsizing due diligence phase creates a chaotic workplace atmosphere and increases employee fears and stress levels. Participants explained how these change events affect career uncertainty, fear, and stress in employees.



Shook, L. and Roth, G. (2011), "Downsizings, mergers, and acquisitions", Journal of European Industrial Training, Vol. 35 No. 2, pp. 135-153.

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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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