Organizational death and employee motivation Investigating a plant closure in a multi-plant organization

University dissertation from Stockholm : Department of Psychology, Stockholm University

Abstract: Major organizational changes are often connected with a variety of negative outcomes for both employees and the organization alike. As a contrast to this, organizational deaths have instead been associated with increased productivity and motivation to perform, despite certainty of job loss. These results have been regarded as counter-intuitive, since employment and job security are regarded as a foundation for work motivation.Consequently, this thesis aims at investigating the motivational aspects of organizational deaths in terms of change in motivation as individuals adjust to changing realities. The thesis rests on three empirical studies.The first study's results showed (contrary to theoretical postulations) that goal setting was able to influence employees' in-role and extra-role performance, job-induced tension, commitment to the closure, and job satisfaction. The second study showed that organizational productivity, efficiency, performance, motivation and psychological climate increased for both blue-collar and white-collar employees'.The results of the third study lend support to the anecdotal reports that high-performers stop performing during organizational deaths. However, this study also found that low-performers perceiving low justice increased their effort which may show that they have a personal gain in performing (e.g., positive self-perception). The results of the empirical studies support the notion that organizational productivity increases along with employees' motivation to perform.Finally, a common pattern in the data was that most positive variables increased and the negative variables decreased. These results are explained by the adoption of new goals, which creates horizontal coherence (harmony) among goals, which gives rise to goal proximity (motivation increases due to moving closer to the goal).