The management of managers: challenges in a small economy

John Gilbert (Waikato Management School, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand)
Peter Boxall (Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand)

Journal of European Industrial Training

ISSN: 0309-0590

Publication date: 8 May 2009



The purpose of this paper is to discuss the findings of a study of the management of senior managers. The aim is to describe the ways in which firms in a small economy, such as New Zealand, manage their managers and analyse how they deal with the strategic challenges that are involved.


The study applies the Boxall and Gilbert typology of company styles in the management of senior managers. A case‐study approach is used with data collected through interviews with directors, chief executive officers and senior managers in firms chosen as characteristic of New Zealand conditions.


The case studies confirm the main expectations of the model: difficulties with the recruitment and retention of talented managers are severe in New Zealand, overshadowing all other problems, such as “agency” risks. The findings underscore the need for boards of directors to take a more proactive and comprehensive approach to the management of managers.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations of a qualitative, case‐based approach are acknowledged. However, the intent is to discern and analyse patterns and problems in a particular societal context. There is ample scope for similar studies in other contexts.

Practical implications

The study underlines the challenges firms in small economies can face in securing, developing and retaining a credible senior management team and suggests ways in which firms may approach these problems more effectively.


The paper presents an original study of how firms manage senior managers and uses a novel framework in drawing together themes from organisational economics, human resource development and strategic human resource management to provide an integrated analysis of how managers are managed.



Gilbert, J. and Boxall, P. (2009), "The management of managers: challenges in a small economy", Journal of European Industrial Training, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 323-340.

Download as .RIS



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.