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This word has turned up on occasion in recent years in the computing field, where it is used as the opposite of the much more common downsizing with the sense: “(the action of) replacing a smaller system with a larger one, especially one with networking capabilities” (or, as some wags have put it: “bringing the mainframe back from the dead”). It may be about to become a fashionable word in business, if we are to judge from an article in the Economist, which asked “Will upsizing be the next management fad?” and answered its own question with a qualified “yes”. The word’s root sense in this context is “increasing the size of an organisation (by hiring staff)”, but — like downsizing — it has undertones of a formal policy forcefully pursued, perhaps for doctrinaire reasons. The management gurus argue that upsizing is the natural consequence of downsizing: companies which have shed surplus staff and returned to their core competencies are now beginning to recruit staff better suited to their new needs. Opponents of downsizing — and they are now many — say that upsizing is needed because businesses have reduced in size too vigorously and find they can’t even carry out their core functions properly. The agent noun upsizer and the verb upsize are also used.

Page created 28 Sep. 1996

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World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 28 September 1996.