Date of Award

May 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

C. Erik Timmerman

Committee Members

Erin K. Ruppel, Lindsay M. Timmerman


Coworker Dismissal, Information Seeking, Message Characteristics, Uncertainty


The dismissal of a coworker can create turbulence for organizations and remaining employees. This study explores the communication surrounding coworker dismissal, including the uncertainty experienced by remaining employees, the way they learn about the dismissal, the characteristics of the messages they receive from the organization, and their information seeking. Data gathered from 220 participants yielded several findings. Coworker dismissal is not associated with increased uncertainty, though statistical relationships exist between message characteristics and uncertainty. Reported messages surrounding the dismissal typically came from another coworker or the remaining employees’ immediate supervisor via individual, face-to-face meetings with moderate formality at some point within a day of the dismissal. Several information seeking strategies are used by remaining employees and social costs were more predictive of the information seeking strategy used than was uncertainty. The findings are discussed, with note of their theoretical implications and practical applications, and limitations and future directions are described.

Included in

Communication Commons