The Shadow of Hierarchy - How to Sample a Hidden Population of Former Employees?
Abstract: Relocations in terms of outsourcing to a non-affiliated company and offshoring, the cross-border relocation within the company, are widely used in recent years and in many cases cause collective employee layoffs. Even if one of the main intentions is the reduction of costs, relocations may not produce the highly anticipated financial benefits that most companies pursue. One reason is that organizations often have overlooked and underestimated social or 'hidden' consequences of relocations. The goal of the project was to investigate the research question whether there is a kind of hierarchical 'shadow'. Do former hierarchical structures still exists among victims and survivors of the relocation? How is this structure affected by hierarchy even years after the event and how is the shadow affecting the hierarchy of the firm itself? To answer these questions and to test whether former employees are still connected among one other, a pilot study was carried out among a German manufacturer of electrical equipment which relocated its entire workforce in 2006. The pilot study also tested the feasibility of Respondent-Driven-Sampling (RDS) as an effective and efficient form to sample rare and hidden populations. The paper will introduce the RDS methodology to the institutional research community and gives advice for the implementation of a RDS-study.