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The Psychology of the Recession on the Workplace

The Psychology of the Recession on the Workplace

New Horizons in Management series

Edited by Alexander-Stamatios G. Antoniou and Cary L. Cooper

An economic recession can affect the aggregate well-being of a population. This highly regarded and timely book shows a significant increase in the mean levels of distress and dissatisfaction in the work place in recent years. In particular, increasing job demands, intrinsic job insecurity and increasingly inadequate salaries make substantial contributions to psychological distress, family conflict and related behaviors. The contributors reveal that the recession has fundamentally altered the way employees view their work and leaders. With employers and employees still facing a continued period of uncertainty, a severe impact on employment relations is a continuing reality.

Chapter 12: The effects of not working: a psychological framework for understanding the experience of job loss

Ellen I. Shupe and Katelyn A. Buchholz

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, organisational behaviour, strategic management


Although nearly everyone feels the impact of an economic downturn, it is arguably the unemployed and underemployed who suffer the most, as they are forced to make significant life changes, often involving tremendous financial and psychological losses (for example, Jahoda, 1988). Research on unemployment and underemployment has largely focused on the mental health implications of losing one’s job or enduring long-term unemployment or underemployment. Although this literature has been instrumental in describing the psychological consequences of job loss, it loses sight of other potential consequences, including the impact on social relationships, work and career-related attitudes and behavior, and cognitive processes. Furthermore, it often lacks a comprehensive theoretical focus, resulting in an incomplete understanding of the psychological mechanisms underlying the effects. Finally, the literature offers a limited account of the dynamics of unemployment and underemployment and fails to recognize important social and contextual factors affecting the experience of job loss. In this chapter, we begin to address these limitations by introducing a comprehensive, empirically and theoretically-based framework designed to guide future research on unemployment and underemployment (see Figure 12.1).

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