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GMAT Prep RC: Firms traditionally claim that they downsize

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Firms traditionally claim that they downsize (i.e., make permanent personnel cuts) for economic reasons,laying off supposedly unnecessary staff in an attempt to become more efficient and competitive. Organization theory would explain this reasoning as an example of the “economic rationality” that it assumes underlies all organizational activities. There is evidence that firms believe they are behaving rationally whenever they downsize; yet recent research has shown that the actual economic effects of downsizing are often negative for firms. Thus, organization theory cannot adequately explain downsizing; non-economic factors must also be considered. One such factor is the evolution of downsizing into a powerful business myth: managers simply believe that downsizing is efficacious.Moreover, downsizing nowadays is greeted favorably by the business press; the press often refers to soaring stock prices of downsizing firms (even though research shows that stocks usually rise only briefly after downsizing and then suffer a prolonged decline).Once viewed as a sign of desperation, downsizing is now viewed as a signal that firms are serious about competing in the global marketplace;such signals are received positively by key actors—financial analysts, consultants, shareholders—who supply firms with vital organizing resources. Thus, even if downsizers do not become economically more efficient, downsizing’s mythic properties give them added prestige in the business community, enhancing their survival prospects.

1) According to the passage, the “key actors” view a firm’s downsizing activities as an indication of the firm’s
A. troubled financial condition
B. inability to develop effective long-term strategies
C. inability to retain vital organizational resources
D. desire to boost its stock price
E. desire to become more competitive

[Reveal] Spoiler:
E


2) The primary purpose of the passage is to
A. criticize firms for engaging in the practice of downsizing
B. analyze the negative economic impact of downsizing on firms
C. offer an alternative to a traditional explanation for the occurrence of downsizing
D. chronicle how perceptions of downsizing have changed over time
E. provide evidence disputing the prevalence of downsizing

[Reveal] Spoiler:
C


3) The passage suggests which of the following about the
claim that a firm will become more efficient and
competitive by downsizing?
A. Few firms actually believe this claim to be true.
B. Fewer firms have been making this claim in recent years.
C. This claim contradicts the basic assumption of organization theory.
D. This claim is called into question by certain recent research.
E. This claim is often treated with skepticism by the business press.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
D


4)The passage suggests that downsizing’s mythic
properties can be beneficial to a downsizing firm
because these properties
A. allow the firm to achieve significant operating efficiencies
B. provide the firm with access to important organizing resources
C. encourage a long-term increase in the firm’s stock price
D. make the firm less reliant on external figures such as financial analysts and consultants
E. discourage the firm’s competitors from entering the global marketplace

[Reveal] Spoiler:
B

[Reveal] Spoiler: Question #1 OA
[Reveal] Spoiler: Question #2 OA
[Reveal] Spoiler: Question #3 OA
[Reveal] Spoiler: Question #4 OA

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Re: GMAT Prep RC: Firms traditionally claim that they downsize [#permalink]

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Hi GMATNinja,

2) The primary purpose of the passage is to
A. criticize firms for engaging in the practice of downsizing
B. analyze the negative economic impact of downsizing on firms
C. offer an alternative to a traditional explanation for the occurrence of downsizing
D. chronicle how perceptions of downsizing have changed over time
E. provide evidence disputing the prevalence of downsizing

OA:C , Could you please explain why not B?
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Re: GMAT Prep RC: Firms traditionally claim that they downsize [#permalink]

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New post 25 Apr 2017, 19:23
Hi souvik101990 / GMATNinja / mikemcgarry,

3) The passage suggests which of the following about the
claim that a firm will become more efficient and
competitive by downsizing?
A. Few firms actually believe this claim to be true.
B. Fewer firms have been making this claim in recent years.
C. This claim contradicts the basic assumption of organization theory.
D. This claim is called into question by certain recent research.
E. This claim is often treated with skepticism by the business press.

Could you please explain why not B?

4)The passage suggests that downsizing’s mythic
properties can be beneficial to a downsizing firm
because these properties
A. allow the firm to achieve significant operating efficiencies
B. provide the firm with access to important organizing resources
C. encourage a long-term increase in the firm’s stock price
D. make the firm less reliant on external figures such as financial analysts and consultants
E. discourage the firm’s competitors from entering the global marketplace

OA:B Why not C?
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Re: GMAT Prep RC: Firms traditionally claim that they downsize [#permalink]

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New post 27 Apr 2017, 03:51
Hi, can someone please just briefly give an idea why primary purpose is not D? I almost always get the primary purpose incorrect :(

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soa7 wrote:
Hi, can someone please just briefly give an idea why primary purpose is not D? I almost always get the primary purpose incorrect :(


"Firms traditionally claim that they downsize for economic reasons"
Then is there is a lot of details

"non-economic factors must also be considered"
Details follows

Hence The primary purpose is to offer an alternative to a traditional explanation for the occurrence of downsizing
Hope its clear
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Actually a reasonably interesting passage! And if you disagree, take some advice from a friend of mine: whenever you read RC, pretend that somebody you find incredibly attractive is reading this passage to you. Lol.

Anyway, whenever I start reading an RC passage, my main goal is to understand the structure of the argument. Why is each part of this passage there? I don't really give a crap about the details yet -- they'll be on the screen if I need them. I mostly just want to know how the author is constructing his or her argument.

This particular passage is a one-paragraph blob, but there's still some structure here. Let's break this sucker down sequentially -- since we'll need to understand the structure if we want to dive into the passage's primary purpose:
Quote:
Firms traditionally claim that they downsize (i.e., make permanent personnel cuts) for economic reasons,laying off supposedly unnecessary staff in an attempt to become more efficient and competitive. Organization theory would explain this reasoning as an example of the “economic rationality” that it assumes underlies all organizational activities. There is evidence that firms believe they are behaving rationally whenever they downsize; yet...


The author is just telling us about firms' traditional claims of downsizing in these first few sentences, and how it connects to organizational theory. And then the word "yet" catches my eye. Looks like we're heading for some sort of counter-claim...

Quote:
... yet recent research has shown that the actual economic effects of downsizing are often negative for firms. Thus, organization theory cannot adequately explain downsizing; non-economic factors must also be considered.


That's nice and clear: the author is saying that firms' traditional claim -- that downsizing is economically rational -- isn't really the whole story, and that we need to consider non-economic factors. This seems like a really, really key part of the passage. Continuing...

Quote:
One such factor is the evolution of downsizing into a powerful business myth: managers simply believe that downsizing is efficacious.Moreover, downsizing nowadays is greeted favorably by the business press; the press often refers to soaring stock prices of downsizing firms (even though research shows that stocks usually rise only briefly after downsizing and then suffer a prolonged decline).Once viewed as a sign of desperation, downsizing is now viewed as a signal that firms are serious about competing in the global marketplace;such signals are received positively by key actors—financial analysts, consultants, shareholders—who supply firms with vital organizing resources. Thus, even if downsizers do not become economically more efficient, downsizing’s mythic properties give them added prestige in the business community, enhancing their survival prospects.


And here we have an explanation of the non-economic factors: downsizing is "greeted favorably by the business press", it is "viewed positively by key actors", and its "mythic properties give [firms] added prestige in the business community." So even though downsizers don't become more economically efficient, there's a "powerful business myth" surrounding downsizing -- and that confers benefits to firms.

To summarize, the passage proceeds in this order:
    1) describes the traditional claim firms make about downsizing -- it's economically rational, as suggested by organization theory
    2) pivot: since economic consequences are negative, organization theory can't explain downsizing; need to consider non-economic factors
    3) explains those non-economic factors ("mythic properties give firms added prestige", etc.)

On to your questions:

Quote:
2) The primary purpose of the passage is to
A. criticize firms for engaging in the practice of downsizing
B. analyze the negative economic impact of downsizing on firms
C. offer an alternative to a traditional explanation for the occurrence of downsizing
D. chronicle how perceptions of downsizing have changed over time
E. provide evidence disputing the prevalence of downsizing

OA:C , Could you please explain why not B?


Only a small sliver of the passage deals with the negative economic impact of downsizing, and there's really no analysis of the negative economic impact itself. It's only mentioned as evidence to debunk firms' traditional claims for the purpose of downsizing. The rest of the passage goes on to explain the real reasons for downsizing.

Quote:
Hi, can someone please just briefly give an idea why primary purpose is not D? I almost always get the primary purpose incorrect :(


There's really no mention of how perceptions of downsizing have changed over time. Sure, the passage references perceptions of downsizing -- the business press, for example, seems to love downsizing -- but those perceptions don't really change over time. Instead, the passage is focused on the alternative ("non-economic") reasons why firms downsize.

Quote:
3) The passage suggests which of the following about the
claim that a firm will become more efficient and
competitive by downsizing?
A. Few firms actually believe this claim to be true.
B. Fewer firms have been making this claim in recent years.
C. This claim contradicts the basic assumption of organization theory.
D. This claim is called into question by certain recent research.
E. This claim is often treated with skepticism by the business press.

Could you please explain why not B?


The passage mentions that the traditional claim (that downsizing leads to efficiency) is wrong, and discusses why firms nevertheless choose to downsize. There's no indication that firms have changed their behavior: "There is evidence that firms believe they are behaving rationally whenever they downsize... managers simply believe that downsizing is efficacious." Notice that both of these statements are in the present tense, so firms presumably still believe that downsizing leads to greater efficiency. ("Efficacious" is basically a pretentious synonym for "effective.")

Quote:
4)The passage suggests that downsizing’s mythic
properties can be beneficial to a downsizing firm
because these properties
A. allow the firm to achieve significant operating efficiencies
B. provide the firm with access to important organizing resources
C. encourage a long-term increase in the firm’s stock price
D. make the firm less reliant on external figures such as financial analysts and consultants
E. discourage the firm’s competitors from entering the global marketplace

OA:B Why not C?


(C) is directly contradicted by the passage:

Quote:
the press often refers to soaring stock prices of downsizing firms (even though research shows that stocks usually rise only briefly after downsizing and then suffer a prolonged decline)


Happy reading, everybody!
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Re: GMAT Prep RC: Firms traditionally claim that they downsize [#permalink]

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New post 27 Apr 2017, 09:11
Thank you for the detailed explanation GMATNinja! It's very clear now. :-D
I do not have any strategy in place for RC. I will practice concentrating more on the structure and see how my primary purpose questions go.
Thank you for the tip :thumbup:

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GMATNinja Just Loved your explanation :) Thank you
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Re: GMAT Prep RC: Firms traditionally claim that they downsize [#permalink]

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New post 28 Apr 2017, 22:06
souvik101990 wrote:
New GMAT Prep RC Project: 1 RC Every day. Don't forget to time yourself with the stopwatch below to earn kudos.


Firms traditionally claim that they downsize (i.e., make permanent personnel cuts) for economic reasons,laying off supposedly unnecessary staff in an attempt to become more efficient and competitive. Organization theory would explain this reasoning as an example of the “economic rationality” that it assumes underlies all organizational activities. There is evidence that firms believe they are behaving rationally whenever they downsize; yet recent research has shown that the actual economic effects of downsizing are often negative for firms. Thus, organization theory cannot adequately explain downsizing; non-economic factors must also be considered. One such factor is the evolution of downsizing into a powerful business myth: managers simply believe that downsizing is efficacious.Moreover, downsizing nowadays is greeted favorably by the business press; the press often refers to soaring stock prices of downsizing firms (even though research shows that stocks usually rise only briefly after downsizing and then suffer a prolonged decline).Once viewed as a sign of desperation, downsizing is now viewed as a signal that firms are serious about competing in the global marketplace;such signals are received positively by key actors—financial analysts, consultants, shareholders—who supply firms with vital organizing resources. Thus, even if downsizers do not become economically more efficient, downsizing’s mythic properties give them added prestige in the business community, enhancing their survival prospects.

1) According to the passage, the “key actors” view a firm’s downsizing activities as an indication of the firm’s
A. troubled financial condition
B. inability to develop effective long-term strategies
C. inability to retain vital organizational resources
D. desire to boost its stock price
E. desire to become more competitive

[Reveal] Spoiler:
E


2) The primary purpose of the passage is to
A. criticize firms for engaging in the practice of downsizing
B. analyze the negative economic impact of downsizing on firms
C. offer an alternative to a traditional explanation for the occurrence of downsizing
D. chronicle how perceptions of downsizing have changed over time
E. provide evidence disputing the prevalence of downsizing

[Reveal] Spoiler:
C


3) The passage suggests which of the following about the
claim that a firm will become more efficient and
competitive by downsizing?
A. Few firms actually believe this claim to be true.
B. Fewer firms have been making this claim in recent years.
C. This claim contradicts the basic assumption of organization theory.
D. This claim is called into question by certain recent research.
E. This claim is often treated with skepticism by the business press.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
D


4)The passage suggests that downsizing’s mythic
properties can be beneficial to a downsizing firm
because these properties
A. allow the firm to achieve significant operating efficiencies
B. provide the firm with access to important organizing resources
C. encourage a long-term increase in the firm’s stock price
D. make the firm less reliant on external figures such as financial analysts and consultants
E. discourage the firm’s competitors from entering the global marketplace

[Reveal] Spoiler:
B




I took 7 minutes for complete passage. Got 1 question wrong.

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Re: GMAT Prep RC: Firms traditionally claim that they downsize [#permalink]

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New post 07 May 2017, 02:33
GMATNinja wrote:
On to your questions:

Quote:
2) The primary purpose of the passage is to
A. criticize firms for engaging in the practice of downsizing
B. analyze the negative economic impact of downsizing on firms
C. offer an alternative to a traditional explanation for the occurrence of downsizing
D. chronicle how perceptions of downsizing have changed over time
E. provide evidence disputing the prevalence of downsizing

OA:C , Could you please explain why not B?


Only a small sliver of the passage deals with the negative economic impact of downsizing, and there's really no analysis of the negative economic impact itself. It's only mentioned as evidence to debunk firms' traditional claims for the purpose of downsizing. The rest of the passage goes on to explain the real reasons for downsizing.

Quote:
Hi, can someone please just briefly give an idea why primary purpose is not D? I almost always get the primary purpose incorrect :(


There's really no mention of how perceptions of downsizing have changed over time. Sure, the passage references perceptions of downsizing -- the business press, for example, seems to love downsizing -- but those perceptions don't really change over time. Instead, the passage is focused on the alternative ("non-economic") reasons why firms downsize.



Hi GMATNinja

While I agree with the OA, even I was a bit doubtful between choices C and D on the CAT. While the passage does not definitely "chronicle" the changing perceptions over time, there is some time linkage as seen here:

- Moreover, downsizing nowadays is greeted favorably by the business press;...
- Once viewed as a sign of desperation, downsizing is now viewed as a signal that firms are serious about competing...

Let us know your views.

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Quote:
While I agree with the OA, even I was a bit doubtful between choices C and D on the CAT. While the passage does not definitely "chronicle" the changing perceptions over time, there is some time linkage as seen here:

- Moreover, downsizing nowadays is greeted favorably by the business press;...
- Once viewed as a sign of desperation, downsizing is now viewed as a signal that firms are serious about competing...

Let us know your views.


I think you mostly answered your own question, shailabh! Sure, there are a few time references in the passage, but it's definitely an overstatement to say that the passage "chronicles" the perspectives of downsizing over time. And more importantly, it definitely isn't the primary purpose of the passage.

The tempting "trap answers" on RC primary purpose questions often look a little bit like this one: sure, the passage uses "time markers" when talking about downsizing, but the changes over time certainly aren't at the heart of the passage.

I hope this helps!
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Re: GMAT Prep RC: Firms traditionally claim that they downsize [#permalink]

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New post 05 Jun 2017, 02:29
I missed the second question, as got trapped in option D -
I missed the core of the argument also.
2) The primary purpose of the passage is to
A. criticize firms for engaging in the practice of downsizing
B. analyze the negative economic impact of downsizing on firms
C. offer an alternative to a traditional explanation for the occurrence of downsizing
D. chronicle how perceptions of downsizing have changed over time
E. provide evidence disputing the prevalence of downsizing
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GMAT Prep RC: Firms traditionally claim that they downsize [#permalink]

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New post 05 Nov 2017, 07:03
This passage has one more question.
souvik101990 please incorporate it in the original post.
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Kudos [?]: 5 [0], given: 58

GMAT Prep RC: Firms traditionally claim that they downsize   [#permalink] 05 Nov 2017, 07:03
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