Airline downsizing and its impact on team performance

Amy Fraher

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose: The article draws on a mixed method study of US airline pilots in order to examine the impact of corporate downsizing on pilots' trust, morale, and organizational commitment. The aim of the paper is to review current literature on downsizing and high-risk teams and to identify gaps in the understanding of how external influences like downsizing can impact high-risk team's operational performance through an increase in mistakes, distraction, and stress. Design/methodology/approach: Data were obtained from 127 in depth pilot survey responses from captains and first officers from major US airlines and 43 semi-structured interviews of one to two hours in length. Findings: Commercial pilots working in downsized airlines reported increased stress, distraction, and suspicion with a corresponding reduction in trust, morale, and organizational commitment. Research limitations/implications: The article contributes to the literature in corporate downsizing and high-risk team performance. Insights from these areas provide a lens by which to evaluate post-9/11 managerial decision-making in one high-risk field, aviation, with implications for leadership in other fields of risky work. Originality/value: Although research examining leadership and teamwork in high-risk fields has been growing, few studies consider managerial decisions and the resultant organizational climate within which these teams must operate, particularly in the post-9/11 period. Findings suggest that this is a unique, emerging area that warrants further research.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)109-126
    Number of pages18
    JournalTeam Performance Management
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


    • Airlines
    • Downsizing
    • High-risk teams
    • Job loss
    • United States of America

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Management Information Systems
    • Management of Technology and Innovation


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