Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Robert Donmoyer, PhD; Fred J. Galloway, EdD; Mary McDonald, PhD


downsizing, employee morale, fiscal crisis, Leadership studies, local government, mid-level managers, motivation, narrative analysis, organizations, public administration, reinvigoration, restructuring, revitalization, upper level managers


Over the past two-plus decades, corporate mergers, government consolidations, workforce downsizings and plant closures have increased dramatically; as a consequence, millions of workers around the nation have lost their jobs. Not surprisingly, researchers have begun to focus considerable attention on downsizing, restructuring and revitalization efforts as a means for understanding organizations undergoing major transformation. Although the studies that have been conducted have dealt with a wide range of issues associated with organizational downsizing and restructuring, there is an absence of research examining mid and upper level managers' perceptions of the efficacy of their efforts to revitalize their downsized organizations and, in particular, their surviving subordinates. Likewise, empirical research into public sector downsizing and restructuring has been sparse. This study was designed to respond to these gaps in the literature. More specifically, the research studied fiscally driven change efforts in two cities over a period of four years. Both individual interviews with key participants and stakeholders and extensive analysis of government documents and newspaper accounts were used to reconstruct what happened in the financially stressed cities. The technique of narrative analysis, which involves reconfiguring data as a story complete with plot and literary-like themes, was used to analyze the data. The stories suggest that, in most instances, government officials in both cities did not so much downsize their organizations as find ways to avoid the need for downsizing. The methods ranged from convincing voters to approve a sales-tax increase to restructuring departments to decreasing the number of city employees by not filling positions when retirements or departures occurred. Despite the absence of substantial downsizing efforts, employee morale in each city suffered. The study documents leaders' attempts to confront the morale problem. Strategies employed included leaders: keeping employees informed about the fiscal crisis and what was being done about it; soliciting employee input and feedback about what to do to respond to crisis situations; redesigning jobs and providing professional development opportunities related to an employee's new responsibilities and long-term career aspirations; and articulating a positive vision of the future and the reasons that this vision would likely come to pass.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access