Public Organization Review

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 453–472 | Cite as

Change Communication in Public Sector Cutback Management

  • Genevieve GraafEmail author
  • Evelyn Hengeveld-Bidmon
  • Sarah Carnochan
  • Marianna Salomone
  • Michael J. Austin


Budget cuts in public sector organizations create additional strain for employees, often contributing to uncertainty, rumors, and low morale. This study examines the dynamics of communicating about organizational changes in public human service organizations during the cutbacks of the Great Recession from 2008 to 2013. Drawing from in-depth interviews of 45 senior managers in eleven San Francisco Bay Area county public human service agencies, the findings focus on perceived employee responses to change, specific change communication strategies utilized, and how these were shaped by internal and external factors. The study concludes with implications for future practice and research during significant budget reductions in public human service organizations.


Cutback management Retrenchment Human service organization Public sector Organizational communication 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social Welfare, Mack Center on Nonprofit and Public-Sector Management in the Human ServicesUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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