Details of Thesis

TitleDo leaders’ characteristics and organisational culture matter while downsizing? A study of publicly funded Australian universities
Author Manjegowda, Santosh Banadahally
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2011
Abstract Even after three decades, organisations worldwide have continued the practice of downsizing. Interestingly, the reasons for the differences in leaders' approaches to downsizing still remain unclear. This study therefore, was primarily driven by the central research question: Why would leaders differ in their approaches to downsizing? Within the downsizing literature, the role of some internal factors (e.g. mutual trust, team composition and structure, managerial ideologies) has been analysed and that of others (e.g. dynamic managerial capabilities) has been alluded to, without being followed up by actual research. However, the systematic links between downsizing strategies, and leaders' characteristics and organisational culture have not been empirically established to date, and this study applies the initiative to such efforts. In order to answer the central research question, the present study was conducted under two premises, viz. ideal and practical. Under ideal conditions, the intent was to identify the ideal downsizing strategy types and subsequently the leaders' characteristics and organisational culture dimensions, so as to determine which leaders' characteristics and organisational culture dimensions are favourable for which ideal downsizing strategy type. However, under practical conditions, the intent was to identify the practical downsizing strategy types and only organisational culture dimensions, so as to determine which cultural dimension is favourable for which practical downsizing strategy type. The research data was gathered from 255 mid-level leaders in ten publicly-funded Australian universities through a postal survey, and then analysed using exploratory factor analysis, cluster analyses and one-way ANOVAs. Ideally and practically, three types of downsizing strategies were identified. Based on these, four clusters were derived and analysed methodically across personality, leadership styles, personal values, and organisational culture. Empirical evidence suggests that leaders who ideally prefer forced downsizing have a higher tendency to make their attitudes clear to the team members - a characteristic of high task-oriented style; leaders who prefer voluntary downsizing have a lower tendency to make their attitudes clear to the team members - a characteristic of low task-oriented style; leaders who prefer student load downsizing have a lower tendency to act with consulting their team - a characteristic of low people-oriented style; leaders who prefer a very limited downsizing have a higher tendency to act with consulting their team - a characteristic of high people oriented style. However, personality, personal values, and organisational culture dimensions are not differentiated by the leaders who prefer different ideal downsizing strategies and also those who prefer a very limited downsizing. Furthermore, leaders who use a forced downsizing tend to have a culture that is less likely characterised by a personal freedom; leaders who use voluntary downsizing tend to have a culture that is less likely characterised by sociable and trusting; leaders who use a very limited downsizing tend to have a culture that is more likely characterised by a personal freedom, sociable and trusting. Interestingly, organisational culture dimensions are not differentiated by the leaders who use student load downsizing. This research makes following three key contributions to the theory and practice of downsizing. First, it has advanced empirical typologies of ideal and practical downsizing; second, it has developed empirical model of differences in approaches to ideal downsizing; third, it has developed empirical model of differences in approaches to practical downsizing. The present research has addressed a gap in the downsizing literature concerning characteristics of leadership styles and organisational culture as explanatory factors for the differences in approaches to downsizing..
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