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  • 1. CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
    The frequency and scope of organizational downsizing in the automobile manufacturing industry has affected the stability of the American workforce, the local communities’ economy, and the lifestyle of employees who have suffered a job loss (Budros, 2005, p. 491; Wall Street Journal, 2009; Farrel & Mavando, 2004, p. 390). Many individuals employed in the automobile manufacturing industry have lost their jobs due to a downturn in sales and national economic conditions. Local communities impacted due to loss of tax revenue have fewer community amenities, and overall diminished community stability (Farrel & Mavando, 2004). These factors influence economic development in local communities, such as better schools, new businesses, and job creation. Job loss also influences the lifestyles of the unemployed workers. The primary emphasis of the current research study is to determine if, how, and to what extent job loss affects workers’ family relationships.
    To study the phenomenon, the proposed dissertation “An Assessment of How Job Loss Affects Economic Status and Family Relationships During the Adjustment Period: A Study of Automobile Manufacturing Workers” will develop and review appropriate data to attain relevant research findings. This study’s background information serves as the foundation, and provides a historical description of circumstances that contribute to the central problem. This information helps in the evaluation and assessment of the organizational downsizing phenomenon. The population studied is described based on the former employment affiliation with the automobile manufacturing industry. Study participants will consist of former employees of Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, Chrysler, and Delphi. This study differs from prior studies based on current events that have influenced the automobile manufacturing industry and its former employees’ peripheral quality of life issues. Prior studies have not focused on the impact to downsized workers’ family relationships, but rather conversely focused on the impacts to organizational factors such as competitiveness, productivity, layoff survivors’ morale, and public image. Economic, physical, and emotional health issues have influenced unemployed workers (Dohrenwend, Dodson, & Shrout (1984).
    These added stressors equate to more reliance on service delivery systems that taxpayers are responsible for maintaining. With fewer job opportunities, workers who have lost their jobs will have fewer venues to make meaningful contributions to society unless other citizens provide targeted assistance in the form of job creation or business development assistance, encouragement, monetary resources to attend colleges or vocational schools, and enhanced social service delivery programs. Organizational leaders are responsible for maintaining efficiencies and protecting the assets of the company, all while reducing liability risks. When cost-saving measures become integrated with human resource management, downsizing frequently occurs to balance the organization’s budget.
    Many organizations have heeded the lessons taught by the Enron and WorldCom scandals, and recognize the need to maintain the highest integrity and ethical considerations while in a leadership role. This requires personal integrity as expressed through candor, honesty, respectful communication, and directness when addressing the difficult subject of downsizing. Chapter 1 will also include demographic data regarding the workers who have been impacted the most by job loss in the automobile manufacturing industry and various other industries across the nation.
    Background of the Problem
    Approximately, 5 million jobs in the United States have been lost through organizational downsizing since December 2007, due to the national recession (Department of Labor, 2009). Unemployment is expected to escalate through 2009 to 10%, due to downsizing (Aversa, 2009). The frequency and scope of organizational downsizing in the automobile manufacturing industry has affected the stability of the American workforce, the local communities’ economy, and the lifestyle of workers and their families who have suffered a job loss.
    Downturns in economic conditions influence economic development, namely better schools, new businesses, and job creation. Job loss also influences the lifestyles of the unemployed workers, and likely affects family members. In the event that multiple family members in the same household experienced job loss simultaneously, which is entirely possible in the current economic climate, entire families could be displaced due to the inability to pay their mortgage debts, utilities, food, transportation, or medical costs.
    The budget cuts make it difficult to provide aid to those families who need it most at critical times. During the 2007-2009 recession, workers with undergraduate college degrees have been affected by massive layoffs throughout various industries in the United States (U.S). More individuals have suffered unemployment during 2007-2009 overall, with the Michigan unemployment rate at 8.7% during August 2008 (Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth site, 2008); Ohio’s unemployment rate was 7.8% (The Job Center, 2009); Kansas’ unemployment rate was 4.9% during the same time (Recession, 2009).
    Since the major industry in the Detroit and Dearborn, Michigan is automobile manufacturing (Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth, 2008; Appendix A), Michigan labor analysts recognize that a transfiguration of its workforce must take place to allow workers to use their acquired skills to transition to new jobs in various industries within the state, and retain its citizenry. Maintaining jobs is also crucial for Michigan to retain its population to strengthen local economies. “Just as competition applies constant pressure on firms to improve and innovate, workforce skill and knowledge requirements must evolve to keep pace with employer demand” to improve employment opportunities for committed workers (Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth, 2008, p. 1). “The economy’s size as described by real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) does not speak to the standard of living for its citizens,” yet helps describe the level of wealth within a specific locale (Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth site, 2008, p.1).
    Several additional states employ a large number of automobile manufacturing workers in Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Kansas, and Ohio (Glazer, L. & Grimes, D. (2009). The study will focus on Kansas and Ohio, besides Michigan, due to the proximity to Michigan and large number of plants located in the geographical region. Approximately 2, 400 workers continue to work at General Motor’s Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kansas, which was spared further downsizing due to the award of new production plans to build several popular models (Heaster, 2009). General Motors plans to close temporarily 13 plants from June through August 2009, which may impact some families even further. In Ohio, significant manufacturing job losses have caused the number of unemployed workers to increase during March 2009 to 578,000, up from 567,000 in February 2009 (The Job Center, 2009). “State officials expect Ohio will continue to see several more months of losses and little recovery in the state's unemployment rate until early 2010” (The Job Center, 2009, p. 1).
    Mindful of the market shifts, Ford created Global 2000 that aimed to change its costs structures and decrease prices paid to its ancillary vendors (Ford, 2008). Ford’s primary competitor, General Motors, experienced significant difficulty in the fulfillment of its business objectives due to lagging consumer sales. Likely, Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors will face significant challenges in efforts to recapture their respective markets in the current economic climate. Johnson (2009) stated that both General Motors (GM) and Chrysler were expected to accept wage concessions of up to $7 per hour for automobile manufacturing workers to bring labor costs in line, per mandates from the federal government’s legislative and executive branches, which approved a $16 billion loan to maintain GM’s business for six months through June 2009.
    General Motors filed bankruptcy on June 1, 2009 (Rowley, 2009; Appendix L). Due to the business restructuring, numerous manufacturing plant closings were announced (WJRT, Mid-Michigan, 2009; Appendix M). The previous bankruptcy filing by Chrysler LLC on April 30, 2009 resulted in nationwide announcements of impending dealer and plant closings that will likely lead to significant job losses (Welch & Kiley, 2009; Appendix N). Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli informed Chrysler employees that business and production schedules would resume within sixty days, following the legal bankruptcy proceedings (Welch & Kiley, 2009). “Hourly employees will receive unemployment benefits, as well as supplemental pay that will amount to most of their base wages" (Welch & Kiley, 2009. p. 2).
    The primary emphasis of this qualitative research study is to determine if, how, and to what extent job loss affects workers’ family relationships. To study the phenomenon, the proposed dissertation An Assessment of How Job Loss Affects Economic Status and Family Relationships During the Adjustment Period: A Study of Automobile Manufacturing Workers will develop and review appropriate data to attain relevant research findings. This study’s background information serves as the foundation, and provides a historical description of circumstances that contributed to the central problem. This information helps in the evaluation and assessment of the organizational downsizing phenomenon, and if the resulting job loss impacts workers family relationships in a significant manner.
    The barrier may lie in if these workers possess the education and job skills to transition successfully. An additional barrier to getting a job may be a lack of skills and experience. Some older workers may face discrimination because of their age and expectation of higher salaries, comparable to their former compensation. Glazer & Grimes (2009, p. 2) indicated that Michigan’s sustainability is connected to the state’s ability to attract and retain talent.
    Further, Glazer & Grimes (2009, p. 2) stated that automobile manufacturing workers are among the highest paid manufacturing workforce in the nation, even though the group is considered “low –education attainment” and earns 10/% more than the national average (Appendix J). “The good-paying, low skill jobs which have been the backbone of the Michigan middle class will almost surely decline” (Glazer & Grimes, 2009, p. 2).
    The prospect of remaining unemployed may force workers to accept underemployment, just to work and earn a living. While some individuals may enjoy more leisure time and less work time, others prefer the structure and commitment of working to earn their living for family support. Many workers have qualified for defined benefit pensions through long service with an automobile manufacturer, and may have the option of retiring with full benefits. This action may defuse any negative reactions from family members dependent on the worker’s financial support.
    Statement of the Problem
    The general problem is job loss caused by downsizing has the potential to be detrimental to workers’ overall quality of life. The specific problem is workers who have experienced job loss may find it difficult to maintain their economic status and family relationships, which influences holistic survival issues. The threat of downsizing, some analysts believe, has made the wage cut concept seem palatable. Ford has asked for wage concessions up to $7 per hour from tenured workers (Webster, 2007) to minimize further assembly plant closings. Employees are concerned that regular jobs may be phased out and replaced with temporary workers at lower wages (Webster, 2007). Ford’s innovative robotics technology has increased safety in many plants, and decreased staffing needs in plants where job tasks are repetitive and mundane (Ford, 2008).
    Purpose Statement
    The primary purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study is two-fold: to research how job loss caused by downsizing impacts workers’ quality of life, and family relationships; and to assess how workers maintain their economic status, which influences survival issues as they experience job loss adjustment. The impacts of downsizing could include workers making decisions whether or not to retain the family’s home residence, relocate to an area with better employment prospects, accept under-employment in order to work again, sell personal property to reduce debt and increase monetary assets, improve romantic relationships with spouses or partners, improve relationships with other family members and extended family, increase church attendance and spiritual faith, change careers, increase participation in recreational pursuits, attend an educational institution, or pursue self-employment.
    The qualitative phenomenological research method is appropriate for this study because it will allow former employees an appropriate outlet to express personal feelings, which may have not occurred prior to the study. The research design selection is appropriate also because it closely relates to the intention of gathering information in a “first person” point of view to delve into conscious and sub-conscious held beliefs by the study participants. The research method allows the focus to remain on the participants’ personal experience regarding the job loss. Phenomenological study, which is “the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view,” allows a closer look into the sub-consciousness of the participants (Stanford, 2007, p.1).
    The major components of the downsizing action include: opportunities to change to more stable careers and industries; loss of regular income and defined employee benefits; loss of or restriction of consumer credit privileges; opportunity to make oneself more marketable by attending school with personal savings or buy-out funds to earn a college degree, license, or certification; increased likelihood that individuals will not seek frequent medical care due to limited medical benefits; increased likelihood that individuals will seek specialized medical examinations that are publicized in public service announcements and offered for free or reduced fees; increased likelihood that individuals may engage in physical fitness activities; increased likelihood that workers may have conflicts with family members and extended family; decreased ability to pay for basic living needs and luxury items; opportunity to start a personal business with buy-out funds and enhance earning potential; uncertainty regarding callback timeframe; increased stress; and negative affects on individuals’ standards of living. As a personal dilemma, each individual must find ways to influence outcomes and maintain economic equilibrium without his or her regular income (Leana & Feldman, 1990, p. 1160).
    Maintaining personal self-esteem and positive personal relationships before, during, and after unemployment periods are desirable and logical objectives of workers (Leana & Feldman, 1990, p. 1162). The research study will also focus on how well the former workers seek opportunities to regain stability within their lives versus how poorly they adapt to their new status. A representative sample from the target population will include 40 former automobile manufacturing employees in Michigan (Detroit and Dearborn), Ohio (Dayton and Moraine), and Kansas (Kansas City) who have experienced job loss within 2007-2009. The selected methodology is appropriate for the proposed study selection to explore how individuals cope with unemployment issues, and if job loss affects economic status, family relationships, and quality- of- life issues.
    The current research study is a qualitative study that does not require inclusion of a dependent or independent variable. For illustrative purposes only, the terminology is used as follows: The dependent variables of this study are the abilities of unemployed workers to make a successful adjustment from unemployed status to employed status resulting in a comparable or better job; or regularly to attend a college or vocational school, all without adapting behaviors that depict depression or long-term stress damage. The dependent variables are: the adaptation and sustenance of personal self-confidence levels, and a continuous positive and determined attitude to successfully rebound from unemployment.
    The variables are integrated and evaluated based on their effectiveness in protecting and strengthening family relationships during the adjustment process. The independent or exploratory variables are the workers’ healthcare benefits, the level of support from family and associates, emotional involvement with family members, and access to the social service and financial planning systems to derive basic living needs. The reason these variables are important to the study is that they bring emphasis to the importance of emotional and physical support in overcoming obstacles, and maintaining a positive attitude in dealing with adverse conditions. Using 26 structured interview questions in successive face-to-face interviews to establish rapport and generate meaningful dialogue will provide a section of the required triangulated data to create relevant research information.
    Significance of the Study
    The significance of the study is that it will highlight the affects of job loss, illustrate how organizations’ practices and protocols affect individuals’ quality of life and lead to restructuring and evaluation of these factors to make economic and personal recovery more difficult. The September 2008 jobless rate was 6.1% (Department of Labor, 2008). “In the deep recession of 1973/1974, the jobless rate reached almost 9%. There are currently about 148 million people in the US civilian workforce. If unemployment rises to nearly 10%, another six million or more people would be out of work” (McIntyre, 2008).
    More people are likely to be directly affected by an organizational downsizing than ever before (Wall Street Journal, 2009). Therefore, every American should learn about downsizing trends in various industries, and begin to advocate for the creation of contingency management plans, lobby for advocacy legislation, and strive to create transitional social service programs to address the concerns of workers affected by job loss. Understanding the reasons why organizations downsize is vital in understanding its expected outcomes and impacts organizations in other industries as well.
    Through evaluative processes including crisis mitigation research and prior strategic planning, organizations can best determine if predictive methodologies are useful in averting personnel restructuring crises. Assessing the most emergent and necessary benefits that individual workers need to successfully transition to comparable jobs in other industries, yet still having the ability to maintain their economic gains is one of the most important factors that organizational leaders must acknowledge and work towards providing appropriate tools to help their affected workers.
    Significance of the Study to Leadership
    The significance of this study to the field of leadership is that organizations should become cognizant of how job loss impacts a wide scope of American workers, their families, and the nation’s economy at large. As an example, job exports have negatively impacted the American workforce as more jobs are exported to international competitors that eradicate available jobs and drive down wages within the middle class (Preeg, 2004). The United States’ middle class cannot compete with global market leaders in terms of labor costs, mass production capabilities, and technology innovation (Preeg, 2004). Some critics claim that China is eroding the United States' leadership in technological innovation (Preeg, 2004).
    “For the working middle class, this means job losses, job precariousness, weakening union power, repressed wages, falling living standards, and many other social and individual woes” (Preeg, 2004, p. 401). Many workers affected by the automobile manufacturing downsizings are older workers in the Baby Boomer generation, eligible to retire within the next several years. Rather than seeking new employment, many experienced workers with varying experiential and educational attainment will likely choose to retire. Organizations will lose the benefit of the workers’ knowledge and work experience.
    Starting in 2010, retiring Baby Boomers will have a strong impact on the American workforce. Since not enough replacement workers are available in the technology and related fields, organizational leaders will be forced to exert pressure on the federal government to issue more immigration visas to hire international workers until more American workers are trained
    (US Department of Labor, 2009). With fewer workers and higher demands for workers with specific skills, imported workers will command higher wages for immigrant workers, which organizations will be forced to pay.
    Leadership should act and treat workers in an ethical manner, and “motivate followers to achieve a vision moored on objectives that include concern with all stakeholders, and act as a mentor or role model to followers’ moral development” (Torpman, 2004, p. 42). “Ethical leadership confers legitimacy to agencies and actors serving the public good” (Sama and Shoaf, 2008, p. 41). “The psychological contract between employers and employees has been argued to involve employees providing effort and loyalty in exchange for pay and job security” (Vickers & Parris, 2007; p. 118).
    Leadership should remain mindful of ways to retain the workers’ talent and knowledge by offering flexible schedules, mentoring opportunities, enhanced training for replacement workers, comparable jobs, and an inclusive multi-generational workplace. “Instead of making the news of redundancy such a shock, why not consider breaking the news of the possibility of redundancies well ahead of time and in a more general way so that particular staff are not targeted, but are warned of the downsizing likelihood” (Vickers & Parris, 2007, p. 123).
    Proactive leadership can plan and provide career transitional tools to aid in the recovery process following a corporate downsizing. If workers are not able to recover from losing their employment, they will continue to drain society’s resources and further impact the national economy (Dohrenwend et al., 1984; Liem & Liem, 1988; Pearlin et al., 1981).
    Nature of the Study
    The qualitative phenomenological research method will allow former employees an appropriate outlet to express personal feelings, which may have not occurred prior to the study. Examining the primary differences between a qualitative and a quantitative research study revealed a qualitative study should be used when an inquiry approach is needed and when a unique central theme will be explored, and information is gained from participants (Creswell, 2002; Sproull, 2003). Quality research addresses issues of real importance that advance the body of knowledge on specific topics, has a defined constituency and a wider audience that can generalize the findings for use (Marshall & Rossman, 1999).
    By focusing on increasing comprehension, quality research can enhance knowledge regarding perplexing problems that individuals, groups, and organizations face. A systematic approach is necessary, that incorporates an ethical approach with a defined methodology, using careful planning to measure variables and disclosure of measures to encourage replication and transparency (Anderson & Kanuka, 2003).
    The research design closely relates to the intention of gathering information in a “first person” point of view to delve into conscious and sub-conscious held beliefs by the study participants. The research method allows the focus to remain on the participants’ personal experience regarding the job loss. Phenomenological study, which is “the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view,” allows a closer look into the sub-consciousness of the participants (Stanford, 2007, p. 1). The central structure of an experience is its intentionality of targeted attention towards a specific issue. “An experience is directed toward an object by virtue of its content or meaning, which represents the object, together with appropriate enabling conditions” (Stanford, 2007, p. 1).
    A purposive sample of 40 former automobile manufacturing workers from Michigan (Detroit and Dearborn), Ohio (Moraine and Dayton), and Kansas (Kansas City) areas will respond to open-ended discussion questions in personal interviews to establish rapport, and allow the gathering of data to conduct the research study. Questions will be asked about the individuals’ job loss adjustment experiences. With an opportunity to express true feelings of the affects of the downsizing, furloughed workers may perceive that others are concerned for their personal well-being, and sustain confidence that they will recover from the organizational downsizing. Prior studies have not explored the impact to quality of life issues experienced by automobile manufacturing workers who have suffered a job loss. As a personal dilemma, each worker must find ways to maintain physical and mental health, influence outcomes, and maintain economic equilibrium without his or her regular income. The literature search conducted on the topics outlined in the problem statement and research variables includes the background and history of downsizing, economic impacts to workers, job search results, available vocational training, health impacts, and family relationships.
    Research Variables
    The current research study is a qualitative study that does not require inclusion of a dependent or independent variable. For illustrative purposes only, the terminology is used as follows: The dependent variables of this study are the abilities of unemployed workers to make a successful adjustment from unemployed status to employed status to a comparable or better job; or to regularly attend a college or vocational school, all without adapting behaviors that depict depression or long-term stress damage. The dependent variables are: the adaptation and sustenance of personal self-confidence levels, and a continuous positive and determined attitude to rebound from unemployment.
    The variables are integrated and evaluated based on their effectiveness in protecting and strengthening family relationships during the adjustment process. The independent or exploratory variables are the workers’ healthcare benefits, the level of support from family and associates, emotional involvement with family members, and access to the social service and financial planning systems to derive basic living needs. The reason these variables are important to the study is that they bring emphasis to the importance of emotional and physical support in overcoming obstacles, and maintaining a positive attitude in dealing with adverse conditions. Vroom’s (1995) Expectancy Theory and Weider’s (1980) Attribution Theory comprise the study’s theoretical framework, which emphasizes individuals’ outcome expectations after following specific behavior patterns to maximize pleasure and minimize pain.
    Research Questions
    The following targeted questions guide the research development and literature selection, which is acceptable for qualitative research. Often, researchers prematurely signal how they want readers to interpret the findings of the study. The research question for the qualitative study is “posed as a general issue so as not to limit the inquiry” (Creswell, 2002, p. 70). The research question for this study will focus on gaining an understanding about the impact that job loss has on unemployed automobile manufacturing employees. The six (6) related sub-questions to study the outcome of the study are:
    1. Does job loss result in workers’ depression or feelings of long-term stress?
    2. Is there an impact on workers’ depression if the organization does not make further
    contact to offer assistance?
    3. Does the job loss affect workers’ family relationships in terms of romantic
    involvement, positive communications, ability to pay recurring expenses, mental depression, or participation in recreational or family-oriented events when the
    financial “buy-out” is exhausted?
    4. Does family or personal associates’ emotional or financial support significantly affect
    workers’ adjustment and ability to successfully transition after a job loss to a
    comparable or better job?
    5. Does timely, comprehensive financial planning influence the workers’ mental status or
    the ability to make decisions about how to restructure or prioritize the family’s debt
    obligations?
    6. How likely is the worker to use a social service delivery system during his job loss
    adjustment period?
    Theoretical Framework
    In formulating a theoretical perspective for examining how workers’ experiences during job loss adjustment periods actively engage or disengage them, several theories were applicable and considered, which were (a) Social Development Theory, (b) Social Learning Theory, (c) Attribution Theory, and (d) Expectancy Theory. Each framed the study assumptions and selected choice of research methods. Vygotsky's Social Development Theory posits that “social interaction plays a fundamental role in the development of cognition” (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 1) or learning and comprehension. This factor may be relevant in determining how workers conceive job loss transitional issues that could impact the study’s research variables regarding family relationships, mental health, and economic status.
    Bandura’s Social Learning Theory emphasizes the importance of observing and modeling the behaviors, attitudes, and emotional reactions of others. Bandura (1977, p. 146) states: " Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do.”Bandura’s and Vygotsky's theory complements the other, and emphasizes the importance of human interaction to resolve dilemmas. Supportive interaction is likely necessary to help downsized workers successfully adjust after the job loss period.
    The selected theoretical framework is based on Weiner’s Attribution Theory (1980, 1986; Appendix J) and Vroom’s Expectancy Theory (1959; Appendix I). Attribution theory (Weiner, 1980, 1992) incorporates behavior modification in the sense that it emphasizes that individuals are drawn to activities that produce a pleasant outcome. Pleasant experiences encourage them to interpret these successes to personal efforts and commitment to the task (Weider, 1986). Individuals’ self-perception and self-esteem levels influence how personal successes or failures are conceptualized. “According to attribution theory, the explanations that people tend to make to explain success or failure can be analyzed in terms of three sets of characteristics that can cause the success or failure of the effort: 1). may be internal or external, 2). may be either stable or unstable, 3). may be either controllable or uncontrollable (Weider, 1986).
    A controllable factor is one which an individual feels confident about and takes personal responsibility for successfully accomplishing a specific task. Favorable conditions in a stable environment, one in which an individual feels comfortable and motivated to succeed will likely yield positive results (Weider, 1980). Conversely, if an individual believes that whatever task he or she undertakes, the outcome is not controllable because other factors will have a significant negative impact. Depending on the success of the task, the individual will choose to take personal responsibility for a successful outcome, or blame an unsuccessful outcome on external stimuli or factors outside his or her personal sphere of control (Weider, 1980, p. 18).
    Vroom (1959) posited that people engage in conscious processes to determine whether to act or respond to a specific stimulus for a desired reward, and to maximize pleasure and minimize pain (Clayton, 2008; Vroom, 1995). This is based on weighing available options and perusing through mental calculations before acting upon natural instincts (Clayton, 2008). This link between the effort individuals exert and the performance they believe is achievable, Vroom called Expectancy.
    Based on whether the outcome is sufficiently beneficial to take affirmative action, the individual will complete the task or follow the steps to facilitate the expected outcome. The qualitative study will use the theoretical framework as a broad guide to direct the researcher’s steps in data collection and analysis, rather than as a specific test of what the theory would predict. Workers likely are more motivated to conduct a job search with the expected outcome of securing comparable or better re-employment after following the prescribed steps by an outplacement agency or through other job search resources.
    Since the central problem for this study is the impact that job loss has on workers from the automobile manufacturing industry and their family relationships, workers likely are eager to participate in the outplacement job search activities to secure employment within the projected 3.2 to 5.5 month timeframe (Wall Street Journal, 2009: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, 2009). Due to harsh economic conditions, it may take longer to successfully attain comparable employment. Therein develops the difficulty for workers and their families, if their thought processes follow the logic. Thus, the workers’ job search would become more difficult, and the job loss adjustment would take longer.
    Considering that all steps are followed according to the prescribed job search program, the worker should expect to become employed again relatively quickly. If not, disappointment would likely develop, and the worker could become despondent, frustrated, angry, and fail to fully participate in the job search activities. Typical behaviors initially associated with Vroom’s Expectancy Theory may be: procrastination, selfishness, boredom, contentment.
    Workers self-reflection may lead to the realization that expected outcomes should change if the behaviors are not commensurate with meeting expected outcomes. A worker may become discouraged after following established protocols and remaining unemployed. How this type of setback will could affect workers’ expectancy levels shown through future job search efforts, mental attitude, interpersonal relations, physical health, or emotional health will be evaluated using Vroom’s Expectancy Theory.
    To counteract a negative outcome, workers could choose to adjust their behavior by: openly asking for support from family and close friends, participating in outplacement job training activities, practicing positive affirmations, adding more job search tools, creating an online presence on major career websites or weblogs, joining professional associations and networking groups to enhance communication and job search skills, and subscribing to relevant magazines to learn of job opportunities and pertinent economic factors. Subsequently, based on Vroom’s Expectancy Theory, the adjustment would come in the form of a viable offer of employment. In Vroom’s Expectancy Theory, the link between performance and anticipated outcome is what Vroom called Instrumentality (1995).
    Vroom (1995) believed that in every situation that involves potential decision-making, individuals conduct a mental calculation to determine if the action is beneficial and relevant to what they want to accomplish, and conceptualize it within the theory’s formula: Motivation (M) = V (Valence) x E (Expectancy (Vroom, 1995; Manage 12 Business, 2009). If one or more of these values is too low, individuals’ motivation to succeed or act will be low (Vroom, 1995). If individuals do not believe in the merit of the proposition, they will not expend any effort to achieve the goal or participate in the activity. Or, if they continually expend effort but do not achieve the expected goal, individuals will stop trying and transition to another task.
    With financial planning and educational benefits added to workers’ buyout portfolios, workers appear more equipped to handle short-term budgetary goals and maintain their economic status. However, with long term unemployment, the research may indicate that workers will face more challenges in attaining comparable employment. Rather than remaining unemployed, workers may have to choose underemployment and generate less income, change career fields, or complete and educational program to be competitive with other job seekers.
    In Hamilton, Hoffman, Broman, & Rauma (1993), job loss and failure of job seeking depicted a strong causal relationship with depression and suicidal thoughts. In the current study, with the possibility that workers may have participated in prior financial planning initiatives or saved money to cover an unemployment period, workers may not experience significant feelings of depression. Workers may also choose a lifestyle change, such as educational attainment, which may significantly delay a job search.
    Research indicates that economic, physical, and emotional health issues have influenced unemployed workers (Dohrenwend, Dodson, & Shrout (1984). The term downsizing has become synonymous with business downturns, negative economic impact, and poor fiscal controls and strategic operations management (Aversa. 2009). When organizations downsize, they normally follow specific steps 1.) workforce reduction, 2). organizational redesign, 3).systematic strategy focused on changing the attitudes, values, and culture of the organization (Huber and Glick, 1993). Cole (1995) describes the methodology used to reduce headcount: early retirement, transfers, outplacement services, and buy-out packages.
    The current number of people receiving unemployment compensation benefits is the highest since May 1983, following a steep recession (Department of Labor, 2009). Research suggests that employment has improved in education, healthcare, engineering, information technology, and federal government job classifications in multiple organizations in the nation (Department of Labor, 2009). Individuals work for various reasons, even in occupations that are distasteful for various reasons. The automobile manufacturing industry has provided stable and lucrative middle-class incomes and lifestyles to workers with low education levels (Glazer & Grimes, 2009, p. 1), who have adapted to the factory culture and changes inherent within the industry. Clearly, this phenomenon suggests that workers are having difficulty finding new employment.
    The intent of this research study is to add to the body of knowledge on Attribution Theory and Expectancy Theory related to job loss by addressing how leadership and family members influence, motivate, or demotivate workers as they strive to successfully adjust.
    The current research study fits within the existing literature and research in the field by giving updated data from 1993 regarding downsizing of automobile manufacturing workers.
    The current research study will contribute to the existing body of literature by updating stakeholders on the progress made to help downsized workers as they make the adjustment after the job loss to finding suitable income replacement or educational opportunities. Since 1993, the year of the last comprehensive study on downsized automobile manufacturing workers (Hamilton, Broman, Hoffman, & Renner, 1990; Hamilton, Hoffman, Broman, & Rauma (1993), more targeted benefits have been added to provide direct assistance to workers. However, in the current economic climate, workers may face additional challenges to make a successful adjustment.
    Definition of Terms
    Throughout the study, various terms have been used to communicate relevant principles regarding the impact of job loss to workers. Many have similar meanings but are used in various contexts. To provide consistency and comprehension throughout the study, specific definitions are provided.
    Buyout is a financial incentive offered to an employee in exchange for an early retirement or voluntary resignation (Merriam Webster Dictionary Online, 2008). The typical buyout programs include lump sum payments of up to $140K, tuition reimbursement and traditional early-retirement packages (Ford, 2008). Automobile manufacturing workers are typically given the option of remaining with the company and facing possible layoffs, wage and benefit reductions, or severing all connections with the employer for a specified amount of money that is dependent on tenure and job classifications (General Motors, 2009; Ford Motor Company, 2009). Due to the bankruptcy filing of Chrysler, and the likely bankruptcy filing of General Motors, employee buyouts may become entangled in upcoming court proceedings. As more employees face the likelihood of job losses, the impact to their economic status and family relationships may be even more significant than anticipated.
    Corporation is a body formed and authorized by law to act as a single person although constituted by one or more persons and legally endowed with various rights and duties including the capacity of succession (Merriam Webster Dictionary, 2008). A corporation’s owners have limited liability, which allows the corporation to stand alone separate from the personal assets of the owners and board members (Investor Words, 2009). Typically, automobile manufacturing organizations are aggregate corporations, meaning multiple owners are involved (Investor Words, 2009). Within a corporation, senior executives are expected to make strategic decisions about operational priorities to protect corporate assets.
    Displaced worker is an employee who has been forced to terminate his or employment (Merriam Webster Dictionary, 2008; US Department of Labor, 2009). All 50 states administer the federal program for dislocated or displaced workers, to provide employment and subsidized training to enhance personal marketability for workers who have suffered a job loss through no fault of their own. As companies continue to downsize, they can turn to a variety of innovative programs that are available from both federal and state governments. Helping downsized workers become more marketable to gain new employment, displaced workers receive targeted assistance to prepare for now careers in healthcare, law, information technology, among other fields (Barnes, 1983). The federal Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) provides services through funding that is based on a formula that refers to the distribution of unemployment in each state’s area (US Department of Labor, 2009). WIA allows each state to provide eligible workers enhanced re-training to become eligible for high growth jobs (U.S. Department of Labor, 2009).
    Downsizing is similar to displacing a worker, and involves firing the employees for the purpose of saving expenses for an organization. The typical practice is allowing the displaced worker to receive a severance package to provide financial assistance for a specified period (Merriam Webster Dictionary, 2008). Downsizing is also referred to as termination for convenience, which is commonly incorporated into government contracts (Business Dictionary, 2009). In Vickers & Parris, (2007) downsizing is defined as the intentional or planned elimination of positions or jobs; being made redundant.
    Downturn describes a measurable decline in business and economic activity (Merriam Webster Dictionary, 2008). “Marked by high unemployment, stagnant wages, and fall in retail sales, a recession generally does not last longer than one year and is much milder than an economic depression (Business Dictionary, 2009). Typically, the economy travels through a predictable cycle that includes expansion, peak, recession, and recovery (National Bureau of Economic Research, 2009).
    Phenomenological is a philosophical movement that describes the formal structure of the objects of awareness, and of awareness itself in abstraction from any claims concerning existence. When allowing a study participant to tell his or her story, it allows the participant to share his or her firsthand story, the lived experience (Merriam Webster Dictionary, 2008). Phenomenological design allows researchers the unique ability to examine everyday human experience in close, detailed ways (DeMarrias & Lapan, 2004, p. 56). Phenomenological study, which is “the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view,” allows a closer look into the sub-consciousness of the participants (Stanford, 2007).
    Recession is described as a period of an economic contraction measured by unemployment statistics and low economic growth and a widespread decline in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which the consumption of gross investments and government is spending plus exports minus imports (Merriam Webster Dictionary, 2009; Wall Street Journal, 2009). Since December 2007, the U.S. has been in an economic recession, which has contributed to the resulting layoffs and downsizings across the nation (Wall Street Journal, 2009).
    Reorganization is the financial reconstruction of a business concern, typically used as a cost savings measure that may involve downsizings or furloughs (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2008). Unemployment is a problem that comes and goes with the modern financial cycle and business downturns that equates to job loss that may include compensation and employee fringe benefit packages (Recession, 2009; National Economic Research, 2009).
    Assumptions
    Several assumptions can be made in this qualitative phenomenological study; that employees depend on personal incomes to survive on a daily basis and take care of family needs. More workers are interested in re-employment in comparable or better manufacturing jobs than attending college or vocational school for a degree, license, or certification. Logical interpretation of the data indicates that automobile manufacturing workers’ educational level is at or above the ninth grade level making them capable of learning new job skills; job performance issues do not impact the downsizing decision; consideration of race, gender, or age does not impact the overall downsizing decision.
    Scope
    This study’s scope will focus on automobile manufacturing and related industry workers who have suffered a job loss in Michigan (Detroit and Dearborn), Kansas (Kansas City), and Ohio (Moraine and Dayton). An evaluation of the affects of job loss on automobile manufacturing industry employees is the central theme of this study. A significant number of study limitations exist, which have the potential to influence the research findings.
    Limitations
    Due to organizational privacy concerns, there may be a lack of exposure to internal environments within the automobile manufacturing plants may make attaining data more difficult. Outreach efforts to multiple agencies who have direct contact with downsized workers may provide additional access for research purposes. The possibility exists that not enough former workers will participate in the research study in a single location. This underscores the importance of conducting the research in multiple locations with large populations of downsized workers from various organizations. Respondents may give untruthful answers to interview questions to protect their privacy. Establishing rapport with respondents and ensuring confidentiality of the responses, personally identifying information and proper records maintenance is necessary.
    Timely completion of interview responses is necessary to meet the university’s
    requirements and maintain respondents’ interest in participating in the study. The inability to secure enough participants will limit data collection and analysis. Therefore, aggressive and timely recruitment of eligible participants will likely generate a significant number of participants in each of the 3 locations. The literature is primarily limited to scholarly articles, not devoted to job loss or impact to families. Most of the peer-reviewed articles on the specific research topic were developed 20 years prior to the current study. Another limitation is the researcher may have personal biases based on family members’ occupations in the automobile manufacturing industry, and the researcher’s personal experience with job loss due to organizational downsizing in a different industry.
    Delimitations
    To counteract the described limitations to the study, it may be helpful to customize a questionnaire to the industry and specific geographic locations. Stressing confidentiality of the study responses and findings may encourage open and truthful communication. The researcher can offer to send a copy of transcribed individual responses to participants, and a summary
    report without clients’ personally identifiable information to the participating organizations. Informing the respondents of possible benefits if the hosting organization receives a blind summary of the findings may encourage open communication. Communicating the importance of the participants’ feedback in possibly changing future corporate protocols and practices that could influence similarly situated individuals in the future may also encourage more productive communication between the respondents and the researcher.
    Summary and Organization of the Remainder of Study
    The national recession of 2007-2009 has negatively impacted the automotive manufacturing industry that has caused widespread plant closings and massive job losses for its workers.
    Chapter 1 introduced the problem statement and purpose statement to provide the research’s intent, objectives, and importance. The role of organizational leaders was discussed, coupled with how they must assess the impact of job loss on workers and their families who share the collective burdens of the aftermath. In this way, support of the workers’ quality of life issues can be provided in a balanced fashion, allowing workers to find alternative methods to generate suitable income and preserve the family’s status. Milkman (1997) posited that a job loss was beneficial for many workers who found the work conditions oppressive and unsuitable. These individuals took the buyout incentive, and volunteered for the job separation in order to find satisfaction in an alternative career or personal pursuit. Other downsized workers were forced into the job loss through downsizing, which may have been caused drastic life adjustments.
    The information in Chapter 2 indicates that job loss is not exclusive to the automotive manufacturing industry. In the current economic climate, many organizations and approximately 5 million jobs in the United States have been lost through downsizing since December 2007 (US Department of Labor). Due to the overarching impact of job loss to the U.S. workforce, further studies warrant deeper investigation to determine and evaluate specific impacts and possible crossover effects across various industries and organizations. Coping strategies, family dynamics related to job loss, alternative career searches, prior research, and current literature findings will be provided for consideration.
    Chapter 3 will present the study’s proposed phenomenological design research design and methodology. Phenomenological design “allows researchers the unique ability to examine everyday human experience in close, detailed ways” (DeMarrias & Lapan, 2004, p. 56). Participation in a face-to-face interview with selected study participants using targeted recruitment methods will allow a closer look into the sub-consciousness of the participants (Stanford, 2007). The research variables and emerging themes will be integrated with the central research question to incorporate projected findings. Chapter 4 will provide the results of the research, interview transcripts, and data coding methods used to classify the data (Blum, Edwards, Goes, Morelli, Salerno & Simon, 2005). Demonstrating the efficiency of Vroom’s Expectancy Theory will be included in Chapter 4, as well. Lastly, Chapter 5 will provide the study’s conclusions, implications from research findings, emergent theme patterns, and recommendations for further research.