Faculty News & Research

Approaching a Difficult Downsizing as an Opportunity Rather Than a Threat

A new joint interview with Michigan Ross Professor Emeritus Robert Quinn and entrepreneur Ricardo Levy examines how downsizing can be done in a way that helps the organization while also honoring and validating the employees who must leave.

Speaking to People + Strategy, Levy and Quinn contrast the common, negative experience of downsizing; reflect on an example from Levy’s career of a more positive approach; and discuss the theories and research that illuminate the different outcomes. 

“In crisis, you have a great opportunity to create a high-performance culture or to reinforce the one you already have. The people see that if the leaders sacrifice to embrace the common good in bad times, they will certainly embrace it in good times. The people respond,” Quinn says in the interview. “There’s a point at which leadership and culture become linked in a reciprocal relationship. When you transcend the ego, you become a symbol—an extension of the best that exists and the common good that’s trying to emerge.”

The article also includes a useful chart comparing responses to a financial crisis that can turn a threat into an opportunity.

“The conventional road takes us where we do not want to go. But there is an unconventional path that can take us where everyone wants to be,” Quinn notes.
 

Featured Faculty

Robert Quinn
  • Professor Emeritus of Management and Organizations