THE DAMAGE OF CORPORATE DOWNSIZING
Congratulations to Robert Kuttner for having the courage and foresight to point out a dangerous paradox in Corporate America's thinking ("Talking marriage and thinking one-night stand," Economic Viewpoint, Oct. 18).
Employees know that words are cheap and actions are dear. No amount of exhortations to commitment, loyalty, or improved productivity for the "team" or "family" have any meaning when people believe--and rightly so--that they may be terminated at a moment's notice. This doublespeak emanating from top management, consultants, and academics contributes to increasing fear and loathing on the part of employees and reinforces the "me first and only" ethic prevalent in American business and society.
Another reason to rethink these policies is that continued downsizing and the threat of reductions virtually guarantee suboptimal performance on the part of those left in organizations. The "survivors" often are left to struggle with too much work while living under the stresses of potential layoff.
Associate Professor of Management