In this review, we examine the idea of organizational restructuring as a conceptual tool and how it has been used to alter societal definitions and interpretations of employment. Although use of the term restructuring is relatively recent, the broad issue of changing employment conditions with which it is concerned has a long history, going back to the industrial revolution. Our main focus is a consideration of the causes and consequences of restructuring, in its more recent rhetorical and structural versions. In their pursuit of greater efficiencies, organizations adapt to the demands of increasingly global markets, and these adaptations are crucial components of what is popularly referred to as the new economy. Such developments are applauded in most economic theory, but sociologists examine both sides of their social impact, including the adverse effects and implications of such externalities as the social disruptions caused by downsizing and other organizational and corporate changes. These studies provide important contributions to our knowledge of how much, and when, promises of organizational efficiency are in fact deliverable and responsive to those affected by them. We argue that the language of restructuring is regularly used to mask, reframe, and sugarcoat economic slumps as possessing positive social outcomes. We conclude by positioning restructuring as an important component of the current American export of managerial ideology to transnational contexts and suggest further examination of how restructuring affects the culture of business in these other national contexts.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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