The interactive effects of job insecurity and organizational cynicism on work effort following a layoff

Pamela Brandes, Stephanie L. Castro, Matrecia S.L. James, Arthur D. Martinez, Timothy A. Matherly, Gerald R. Ferris, Wayne A. Hochwarter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The widespread layoffs of the past 25 years have caused unparalleled levels of distrust and frustration in organizations. Organizational cynicism, which is frequently a manifestation of this pervasive phenomenon, has been shown to affect postlayoff attitudes and behaviors. It is generally assumed that postlayoff cynicism is predictive solely of dysfunctional outcomes. However, there is evidence suggesting that favorable consequences may emerge in some settings. In this exploratory study, the authors examined the postlayoff reactions of managerial employees who survived a corporate downsizing 1 month prior to the onset of the data collection. More specifically, they investigated the interactive effects of organizational cynicism and job insecurity on survivors' inclination to expend work effort. They hypothesized that cynics would report higher levels of work effort when faced with perceived job insecurity than non-cynics. Results provided support for these hypotheses, as work effort increased concurrently with cynicism for those perceiving an insecure work environment. Implication of these results for science and practice, strengths and limitations, and an agenda for future research are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-247
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Leadership and Organizational Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • Cynicism
  • Job insecurity
  • Layoffs
  • Work effort

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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