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The impact of downsizing Cooperative Extension on survivors' perceptions of the organization

Keith R Martikainen, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine the effect (if any) an organizational downsizing has on employees remaining with the organization. A national web-based survey of 201 Extension personnel was conducted in the fall of 2003. Respondents came from 24 states representing the 1890 Extension region and all four 1862 national Extension regions. ^ The study examined attitudes at three points in time: (a) prior to the downsizing announcement, (b) at the start of the downsizing, and (c) at the time the respondent completed the instrument. Findings included a significant decrease in survivors' positive attitude toward: (a) the Extension organization; (b) colleagues; and (c) a future career in Extension. In addition: (d) perceptions of the efficacy of downsizing strategies varied widely. Responses were gathered from a nonrandomized pool of extension practitioners using a web-based survey. ^ The dependent variable of the study was “attitude toward the organization” operationalized as attitude toward: (a) the Extension Organization, (b) colleagues, (c) Extension career possibilities, and (d) the downsizing strategies used. ^ The major independent variables were a measure of survivors' perceptual change over time and selected demographic variables (Extension organization of employment during downsizing; age; gender; personal relationship status; length of Extension career; length of employment with Extension organization downsized; personal education level; tenure status; office on or off campus); geographic area(s) and program/discipline area(s) of responsibility prior to, and following downsizing. Data were gathered using a web based instrument. ^ Recommendations arising from the study include: (a) Extension administrators should be aware of growing negative attitudes by those remaining in the organization and take steps to address survivor needs as part of the downsizing plan; (b) administrators and Extension personnel surviving the downsizing both need to be aware of the change in employee/employer relationship; and (c) survivors expressed negative opinions about some downsizing strategies and positive attitudes toward other strategies. This provides administrators clues to more positive options when planning a reduction in force. No respondents referenced a downsizing more than five years previous to the study. ^

Subject Area

Political Science, Public Administration

Recommended Citation

Martikainen, Keith R, "The impact of downsizing Cooperative Extension on survivors' perceptions of the organization" (2004). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3126956.