A comparative analysis of layoff announcements and stock price reactions in the United States and Japan

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113 Scopus citations


Downsizing and layoffs are an important mechanism for U.S. firms to cope with their strategic and economic environment. In contrast, the Japanese tradition of lifetime employment limits the ability affirms to employ layoffs as a strategic measure, relegating its use to conditions of financial distress. This paper provides the first comparison of layoffs in Japan and the United States and examines stock price reactions to layoff announcements in each country from 1990 to 1994. Agency theory and Aoki's cooperative game theory are employed to discuss differences in the governance structures of U.S. and Japanese firms and their implication for stock price reactions. Results show that layoff announcements trigger negative returns for both U.S. and Japanese firms. Specifically, layoff announcements of U.S. firms are associated with a negative 1.78 percent abnormal return, while layoff announcements for Japanese firms are associated with a negative 0.56 percent abnormal return. To better understand the impact of layoffs, this study examines the relationships between stock price reactions and various layoff characteristics (such as whether the layoff is proactive or reactive or whether the layoff is the first in the industry). Implications of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)879-894
Number of pages16
JournalStrategic Management Journal
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Downsizing
  • Japan
  • Layoffs
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management


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