Downsizing and Deknowledging the Firm

Craig Russell Littler, Peter Innes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    42 Citations (Scopus)


    Organizations in many OECD economies have undergone a decade of downsizing, restructuring and transition. For example, workforce reductions were a dominant feature of firm behavior in Australia throughout the 1990s. These wide-ranging organizational transitions are expected to continue. What do the new organizational forms and new job structures mean in relation to skill trends? This article examines the changing paradigms for understanding long-term skill change and assesses their relevance by empirically examining the relationship between downsizing, deskilling/upskilling and contingent labour use in larger firms. The analysis is based on a comprehensive, longitudinal data set of 4153 companies. A key finding is that downsizing was used as a vehicle for a different form of 'deskilling' across the 1990s. Alongside the 'knowledge organization, there are processes of deknowledging the firm.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)73-100
    Number of pages28
    JournalWork, Employment and Society
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2003


    • downsizing
    • flexibility
    • knowledge organization
    • restructuring
    • skilling
    • SKILL


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