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Effects of layoff victims' justice reactions and emotional responses on attitudes toward their previous employer

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Purpose ‐ This paper's aim is to study a neglected research outcome within the last ten years, i.e. the impact of unemployment on the willingness of those laid off (victims) to endorse their previous employer to others. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A unique sample of unemployed victims completed an on-line survey investigating the impact of personal background variables, organizational background variables and layoff treatment variables on their willingness to endorse their previous employer. Findings ‐ As expected, the perceived legitimacy of closure/procedural justice explained willingness to endorse. It was also found that higher perceived distributive justice was related to willingness to endorse. Collectively both layoff treatment variables explained most of the endorsement variance. Length of unemployment was positively related to anger and depression, and anger and depression were each negatively related to previous employer endorsement. In addition, it was also found that an unexpected new outcome, potential rehire, emerged as related to but distinct from willingness to endorse. Supporting this distinctiveness, victims who were angrier about being unemployed were less likely to endorse their previous employer to others, but victims who were more depressed about being unemployed were willing to potentially reapply to their former employer. Practical implications ‐ Study results reinforce the importance of perceived justice affecting not only layoff victims' previous employer endorsement but also their potential rehiring. Originality/value ‐ A uniquely unemployed sample, primarily executives, middle managers and professional, salaried individuals, with most being longer-term unemployed, was utilized. There was also a stronger measure of distributive justice. Potential rehire emerged as a distinct outcome from willingness to endorse previous employer.

Keywords: Behaviour; Layoff treatment; Layoff victims; Motivation (psychology); Personal needs; Potential rehire; Previous employer endorsement; Unemployment

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2012-10-19

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