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Transformational change in a time of crisis

Panayiotis Stylianou (Business Analyst at, Barclays plc, London, UK)
Alexander Pepper (ESRC/FME Fellow at London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK)
John Mahoney‐Phillips (John Mahoney‐Phillips is Global Head of Talent Strategy and Performance, Nomura, London, UK)

Strategic HR Review

ISSN: 1475-4398

Article publication date: 9 August 2011




This case study feature aims to describes how UBS's human resources (HR) organization radically transformed its practices to deal with the harsh operating environment that resulted from the financial crisis of 2007‐2009. It seeks to examine best practices from the operational successes of the new model, as well as pitfalls to avoid by assessing the effects of the swift changes on employee commitment.


A case study illustrates the strategy UBS adopted to transform its HR organization, supported by the findings of a research study into employee commitment levels.


The paper finds that the integration of several HR functions into one centralized organization led to the creation of a strategic HR function better able to manage a global workforce and act as a business partner to the organization at a lower cost. The radical nature of the change, however, negatively affected desirable employee commitment. Employees were less likely to engage in positive organizational behavior during and soon after the change.


This paper informs HR managers about how best to manage in turbulent times and how to apply transformational changes to achieve operational efficiencies and cost reductions while retaining employee commitment.



Stylianou, P., Pepper, A. and Mahoney‐Phillips, J. (2011), "Transformational change in a time of crisis", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 10 No. 5, pp. 28-34.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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