This study explored the effects of layoffs on survivors. We assessed subjects’ work performance as a function of whether a co-worker had been laid off and the circumstances of that layoff. Consistent with equity theory, subjects worked harder when they believed that a co-worker’s dismissal was based on a random process rather than on the relative merits of their and their co-worker’s prior performance. Data drawn from questionnaires lent further support to equity theory as an explanation of these results.
Brockner, J., Greenberg, J., Brockner, A., Bortz, J., Davy, J., & Carter, C. (1986). Layoffs, equity theory, and work performance: Further evidence of the impact of survivor guilt. Academy of Management journal, 29(2), 373-384.