CU Denver Business School Professor Wayne Cascio won a $50,000 award Tuesday for pioneering research that showed corporate downsizing had little effect on profits and should be used sparingly and only as a last resort.

He was presented with the Michael R. Losey Human Resources Research Award at the Society for Human Resource Management’s 62nd Annual Conference and Exposition in San Diego.

“Cascio’s research examines some of the most important issues facing businesses today, including the impact of downsizing on employers and the causes of employee turnover,” said SHRM President and CEO, Laurence G. O’Neil. “The Losey Award acknowledges the role Dr. Cascio’s past and current research will continue to play in the human resources profession.”

Layoffs as last resort

In a harsh economic climate where many businesses have chosen layoffs as a first resort to save money and shore up shareholders, Cascio’s research shows that such tactics rarely pay off and often make matters worse. Financial returns are usually less than expected and good people tend to leave. He argues that layoffs are inefficient compared to other ways of saving money and making profits and should be used as a last resort.

Who quits?

Cascio also studied employee turnover and found that good performers tended to quit less often than poor ones but that trend evened out depending on how long the turnover was measured, unemployment rates and whether turnover was voluntary or not.

“To say that I am overwhelmed with joy and gratitude to the selection committee and to SHRM upon receiving this award, is an understatement,” Cascio said. “After all, the Losey Award is named for an individual who tirelessly has promoted the use of management practices that are informed by established research findings. I am humbled and honored to know that my research has contributed to his vision.”

SHRM is the largest association in the world devoted to human resource management, representing 250,000 people in 140 countries. The Losey Award winner is chosen by a committee of seven.

Sought-after expert on human resources

Cascio, the Robert H. Reynolds Chair in Global Leadership at the CU Denver Business School and a senior editor of the Journal of World Business, is a much sought after expert on downsizing and author of numerous books including Managing Human Resources, Investing in People, and Responsible Restructuring: Creative and Profitable Alternatives to Layoff.

He has spoken to and acted as a consultant for clients that include NASA, the CIA, Intel, Ford, and Delta Airlines. He has also served as an HR expert witness in court cases like Ricci v. DeStefano, where Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissenting opinion cited Cascio’s work.

Cascio earned a PhD in industrial and organizational psychology from the University of Rochester in New York.

Donating $10,000

After receiving his award Tuesday, Cascio chose to give something back.

Quoting Winston Churchill he said, “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”

“In that spirit, I’d like to honor this award by donating 20 percent of it or $10,000 to an organization that is near and dear to my heart, on whose board I served for eight wonderful years, and in which I believe deeply, the SHRM Foundation,” he said.

Located on the University of Colorado Denver’s downtown campus, the Business School is the largest accredited graduate school of business in Colorado with more than 18,000 alumni. It serves more than 1,200 graduate students and 1,400 undergraduate students each year. Students and faculty are involved in solving real-world business problems as they collaborate on more than 100 projects with area businesses every semester through classroom work, guest lectures and research projects.

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