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On tenterhooks

Yes, it’s a private-sector company, so it can do what it wants (as long as, it being publicly-held, stockholders are given first priority). But you have to wonder about a policy of water-torture information releases; it seems to do more all-around damage than good.

IntelTop officials at Intel Corporation, the world’s largest computer chip manufacturer, which is Oregon’s largest single private sector employer – of about 17,000 people mainly in the Washington County area – said Tuesday they are planning to lay off about a tenth of its total work force, about 10,500 people. That cutback is expected to occur over the next couple of years. Beyond that, the only detail released was: “Most job reductions this year will occur in management, marketing and information technology functions, reductions related to the previously announced sale of businesses, and attrition. In 2007, the reductions will be more broadly based as Intel improves labor efficiency in manufacturing, improves equipment utilization, eliminates organizational redundancies, and improves product design methods and processes.”

There was nothing about just when or where these cuts would fall, just as there was none months ago when Intel announced a cut of about 1,000 companywide in management personnel. People in Hillsboro and Beaverton are going to be stunned, but not least because they have no idea what to expect. Other than that significant numbers of people locally probably will lose their jobs. Eventually.

There could be other impacts. Rob Enderle, principal analyst for the Enderle Group, was quoted as suggesting, “This is not the way you typically do layoffs to minimize the pain and maximize the productivity gains … When you are cutting this many people and keeping them off balance for a fairly long period of time, it does tend to impact productivity over and beyond the layoffs.”

A wire news story said that In Enderle’s opinion, “Intel CEO Paul Otellini should have copied his counterpart Hewlett-Packard Mark Hurd, who made all of the large cuts for his company at once rather than allow the layoffs to linger.”

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