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Middle managers' uncertainty management during organizational change

Sharyn E. Herzig (School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)
Nerina L. Jimmieson (School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 1 December 2006



This study aims to identify factors that facilitate or inhibit middle managers' experience of uncertainty management during organizational change.


The approach is qualitative and involved interviews with 40 middle managers from a range of organizations.


Analysis revealed that at the pre‐implementation stage, uncertainty focused on the strategic concept of the change, whereas at implementation, uncertainty related to the appropriate procedures to implement. Middle managers’ uncertainty management was found to be important in assisting their employees in the change transition. The factors identified as being either facilitators or barriers to uncertainty management focused on themes related to the design of change, communication with both senior management and their own staff, support from senior management, role conflict, and peer interaction. A model was created to link facilitators and barriers with uncertainty to guide future research.

Research limitations/implications

Implications for organizational change research along with practical implications are discussed.


This study provides insight into the positive contributions middle managers can make during change, along with suggesting what factors are facilitators or barriers to this positive role.



Herzig, S.E. and Jimmieson, N.L. (2006), "Middle managers' uncertainty management during organizational change", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 27 No. 8, pp. 628-645.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited