ERIC Number: ED393373
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Nov-21
Reference Count: N/A
The Rhetoric of Downsizing at the University of Maine: A Case Study.
Kelly, Christine M.; Weispfenning, John
This case study examined the unsuccessful efforts of the University of Maine's (UM) president, Frederick Hutchinson, to "downsize" that institution begun in 1993. It focuses on reasons for the failure of Hutchinson to persuade the faculty to accept his vision. The study used a combination of Michael Hammer and James Champy's list of strategies (taken from "Reengineering the Corporation") guaranteed to lead to failure and some suggestions made by management consultants familiar with downsizing to analyze why downsizing failed to gain support in the short term at UM. Though successful downsizing requires a clear idea of the end result, Hutchinson's plan for downsizing was based on an undefined notion of quality. Rather than reorganize work through simplification, Hutchinson's plan interpreted reorganization as making fewer people do more work. Though successful downsizing plans should not place prior constraints on the problem and solutions, Hutchinson acted in several ways to do just that. Though Hutchinson's messages to faculty stressed the importance of their involvement, his actions kept faculty involvement very limited. In addition, Hutchinson rescinded many downsizing proposals when they met resistance and allowed implementation, which Hammer and Champy say should start and finish within 12 months, to take over 3 years. The study concludes that the downsizing plan failed largely because Hutchinson did not have the authority to enact his plan and failed to gain faculty support. (Contains 19 references.) (JB)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Downsizing; University of Maine
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (San Antonio, TX, November 18-21, 1995).