Daniela Truty

Alt Title

Adult experiences with involuntary separation from the job

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Roth, Gene L.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Employees--Dismissal of; White collar workers--Psychology; Downsizing of organizations


This qualitative study presents an interpretative conceptual framework through which to understand 28 white-collar workers' experiences with involuntary separation from the job: (1) how do these people describe their experience of this downsizing? (2) is there a relationship between their experience of this downsizing and violence? If so, what is the relationship? and (3) what are their perceptions about the acceptability of this downsizing and downsizing in general? Findings suggested that people's experiences differed depending on context and perspective. Experiences were nestled within a multitiered cultural structure, including the wider business culture in the United States, the internal organizational culture at TREBCO, and finally, the personal cultures that were comprised of the participants' unique relevancy structures. Participants situated their stories within a temporal horizon consisting of “before,” “during,” “after,” and an “interim” period for some. Four broad experiences of this downsizing emerged: “layoff was a godsend,” “opportunity came,” “it happened, move on,” and “we were hurt.” Stories and language suggested that this downsizing was experienced as a violative that could be situated at individually defined places along a continuum between peace and violence or order and disorder. This involuntary separation widened the gap between actual and potential realization of basic human needs. External and internal cultural elements likely contributed to and/or sustained the acceptance of downsizing in this way. Evidence suggested that some participants had internalized its inevitability and acceptability. Some participants offered possible alternatives to involuntary separation. At its core, across all experiential categories, these participants' experiences suggested that this downsizing had been a separate-ive, with the organization “taking away” and the participants “losing.” That which was taken away and that which was lost differed among the participants. This dissertation concludes with implications for further research, scholarship, and practice for the organic intellectual, academics, and professionals engaged in a wide array of disciplinary areas, including but not limited to policy studies, adult education, critical management studies, organizational development, human resources development, human resources management, career development, and counseling.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [321]-329).


400 pages




Northern Illinois University

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