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Article
Publication date: 1 November 1998

Jay Klagge

Empowerment has been added to the long list of environmental hazards facing the organizationally endangered species known as “middle managers”. For the sake of balance and…

Abstract

Empowerment has been added to the long list of environmental hazards facing the organizationally endangered species known as “middle managers”. For the sake of balance and interest, the author asked middle managers for their views regarding empowerment. This article presents the views of middle managers along with those found in the literature. Definitions are set forth, pros and cons are covered, and dos and don’ts are delineated. The author closes with the following advice for those seeking to implement empowerment: organizations should set the unifying vision for empowerment at the top management level; organizations should train and develop their line employees prior to giving them full empowerment; and organizations should rely on middle managers to provide two‐way communication and coaching for line employees as they are trained for empowerment. The article concludes that organizations should view middle managers as “bridges” rather than “blockages” to the implementation of empowerment.

Details

Journal of Management Development, vol. 17 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0262-1711

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 1998

Jay Klagge

The need to develop new skills among middle managers has been increasing since the early 1990s. This need arises from the changes in the workplace environment associated…

Abstract

The need to develop new skills among middle managers has been increasing since the early 1990s. This need arises from the changes in the workplace environment associated with the realities of downsizing, the quality movement, and the increased use of teams. This article reports on the experience of one downsized, quality‐conscious, team‐based organization in identifying the development needs of its middle managers. The process used by the case study organization to identify the development needs among its middle managers is outlined. This process can be seen as an example of how development needs can be identified. The findings from the identification process within the case study organization present an initial list of development needs among today’s middle managers. Recommendations on training courses for middle management development are proposed. These recommendations provide initial guidance to organizations interested in developing their middle management assets.

Details

Journal of Management Development, vol. 17 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0262-1711

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 1993

T.K. Das and Manab Thakur

The traditional role of middle managers has been evolving into one which is increasingly concerned with participation in the strategic management process. The reasons for…

Abstract

The traditional role of middle managers has been evolving into one which is increasingly concerned with participation in the strategic management process. The reasons for this evolutionary change are discussed, along with problems facing middle managers today. Suggestions are offered for redefining the role of middle managers for more effective strategic management and planning in industrial organizations.

Details

Competitiveness Review: An International Business Journal, vol. 3 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1059-5422

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Book part
Publication date: 15 July 2019

Jean E. Neumann, Kim Turnbull James and Russ Vince

This research contributes to understanding emotional and political challenges experienced by middle managers as they work with contradictions inherent in leading change…

Abstract

This research contributes to understanding emotional and political challenges experienced by middle managers as they work with contradictions inherent in leading change from the middle. Focus group data from 27 such middle managers based in the UK indicate that, once they have been assigned roles and tasks for leading change, underlying dynamics and processes influence the degree to which they become capable (or unable) to shape and navigate that change. A proposed conceptual framework, illustrated by a case vignette, provides a base of existing knowledge for understanding and explaining these dynamics. We also construct a model of the key tensions that are integral to middle managers leading change. A further contribution to practice involves elaborating the importance of collaborative effort across hierarchical and vertical boundaries, despite emotional and political tensions that undermine middle managers’ roles as change agents.

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Research in Organizational Change and Development
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78973-554-3

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Book part
Publication date: 21 July 2020

Stefan Linder and Johanna Sax

Today, long-term success requires firms to sense changes in their environments early and react efficiently to them. Increasing middle managers’ participation in…

Abstract

Today, long-term success requires firms to sense changes in their environments early and react efficiently to them. Increasing middle managers’ participation in decision-making about market-related and product-related questions has been suggested as one way of enhancing this strategic responsiveness; abandoning formal planning, such as annual budgets, has been another. Yet, empirical evidence on the matter is scarce and conflicting. Drawing on data from Denmark’s 500 largest firms, we show that participation of middle managers in decision-making about new products and markets to serve, in-deed, increases firms’ strategic responsiveness as assessed by a reduction in firms’ downside risk. However, this effect is not a direct one. Nor does it interact positively or negatively with the emphasis put on formal planning as submitted in literature. Our evidence suggests that emphasis on planning mediates the relation between stronger participation of middle managers in decision-making and the increase in firms’ strategic responsiveness. This has implications for ongoing theory building and practice.

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Adapting to Environmental Challenges: New Research in Strategy and International Business
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83982-477-7

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Article
Publication date: 13 October 2020

Demola Obembe, Jarrah Al Mansour and Oluwaseun Kolade

The purpose of this paper is to build on the research-supported view that interactions between top and middle management enhances effective implementation of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to build on the research-supported view that interactions between top and middle management enhances effective implementation of organizational strategies by exploring the role of internal actors in driving organizational strategy at the intersection between strategy formulation and strategy implementation.

Design/methodology/approach

Adopting a social practice perspective, we undertook semi-structured interviews of 27 top and middle level managers drawn from a single case organization. Data collected were analysed using thematic analysis.

Findings

Differences in managerial perception of strategy has significant impact on implementation of strategic decisions as well as creating tensions in recursive communication practices between internal social actors. Furthermore, individual perceptions cannot only limit the extent of strategy awareness amongst key actors, the manifestations through social interaction between top and middle managers is a critical determinant of effective communication and realization of organizational strategy.

Originality/value

The research contributes to the strategy process and practice literature by exploring the dynamic interactions taking place at the intersections of strategy formulation-implementation phases of organizational strategy. It particularly highlights practical issues in top and middle manager interactions and implications for successful strategy implementation.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 59 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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Article
Publication date: 5 November 2020

Ian D. Gordon

The purpose of this article attempts to portray the unique and complex role of library middle managers. This important and influential position can be a proving ground for…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article attempts to portray the unique and complex role of library middle managers. This important and influential position can be a proving ground for new and old managers as libraries continue to evolve, adjust policies, introduce new services and meet the needs of their users. Circulation managers as influential middle managers are realistically depicted as busy, overwhelmed and isolated, but welcome the opportunity to provide leadership and enhance their professional development.

Design/methodology/approach

This viewpoint is solely based on the author's varied experiences and personal reflections as a circulation department head providing leadership alongside colleagues in a busy academic library.

Findings

Department heads as managers of circulation departments are pivotal positions in every library. Circulation heads performing as middle managers are responsible for a full range of administrative, managerial and organizational services. Circulation heads are well positioned as change agents simultaneously directing frontline staff members, policies and services while providing valuable insight to library administration. Yet, circulation managers experiencing constantly evolving responsibilities, are too often found to be caught in the middle negotiating inconsistencies. Successful circulation managers require an eclectic mix of essential skills initiating and deploying change, defining success, dealing with people, actively participating in professional development and providing leadership.

Research limitations/implications

The study and research of library middle managers in public and academic libraries is practically nonexistent. As libraries increasingly create, adjust and reinvent library services, spaces and visions due to increasing digitization, in response to emerging online environments and new service models – middle managers and circulation librarians are excellent and proven pivots to negotiate and successfully implement this change.

Practical implications

As a crafted article written by a former head of a circulation department every staff member, student and librarian serving in access/borrowing/circulation departments should consult this article as required reading.

Social implications

The voices of library middle managers are too often muted, not valued and rarely celebrated. This viewpoint article written in a conversational voice depicts circulation librarians as middle managers that bring value to all libraries and should be heard.

Originality/value

This paper depicts the opportunities and challenges faced by, as well as the skills and competencies required by librarians serving as circulation departments heads.

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Article
Publication date: 23 January 2009

June Xuejun Qiao and Wei Wang

This study aims to identify managerial competencies required for successful middle managers in China.

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to identify managerial competencies required for successful middle managers in China.

Design/methodology/approach

First a questionnaire survey was distributed among MBA and EMBA students at a major university in China, and then two case studies were conducted to collect more in‐depth data.

Findings

The findings of this study suggest that team building, communication, coordination, execution and continual learning are critical competencies for the success of middle managers in China. Implications for future research and practices are also discussed.

Originality/value

The literature review shows that although previous leadership competency studies are extensive, little research has been conducted to explore the competencies required for middle managers. This study would contribute to fill the gap in the literature.

Details

Journal of European Industrial Training, vol. 33 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0590

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Article
Publication date: 11 June 2018

Yuanyuan Wu, Zhenzhong Ma and Milo Shaoqing Wang

The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of middle managers in the corporate entrepreneurship process that drives new capability development. Middle managers are…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of middle managers in the corporate entrepreneurship process that drives new capability development. Middle managers are highlighted as key entrepreneurial agents because of their special position in an organization.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on existing capability development and corporate entrepreneurship literature and develops a conceptual model and research propositions that are illustrated through three examples from a Chinese private firm.

Findings

This paper contends the dual role of middle managers, both as change implementers to follow pre-set rules of an existing corporate entrepreneurship system and as change initiators to bring new rules to improve the existing system.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is conceptual in nature, advancing the understanding of middle managers’ role in corporate entrepreneurship. The paper provides directions for future empirical research.

Practical implications

The interactions between middle managers and other organizational agents are discussed in the propositions. This paper suggests the importance of empowering middle managers to facilitate changes in complex internal environments.

Originality/value

The paper provides a unique theoretical contribution by introducing the interface-based, multi-level conceptual model of corporate entrepreneurship toward new capability development.

Details

European Business Review, vol. 30 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0955-534X

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 3 April 2017

Just Bendix Justesen, Pernille Eskerod, Jeanette Reffstrup Christensen and Gisela Sjøgaard

The purpose of this paper is to address a missing link between top management and employees when it comes to understanding how to successfully implement and embed…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to address a missing link between top management and employees when it comes to understanding how to successfully implement and embed workplace health promotion (WHP) as a strategy within organizations: the role of the middle managers.

Design/methodology/approach

A conceptual framework based on review of theory is applied within an empirical multi-case study that is part of a health intervention research project on increased physical activity among office workers. The study involves six Danish organizations.

Findings

Middle managers play a key role in successful implementation of WHP, but feel uncertain about their role, especially when it comes to engaging with their employees. Uncertainty about their role appears to make middle managers reluctant to take action on WHP and leave further action to top management instead.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations included the middle managers’ low attendance at the half-day seminar on strategic health (50 percent attendance), the fact that they were all office workers and they were all from Denmark.

Practical implications

Middle managers ask for more knowledge and skills if they are to work with WHP in daily business.

Social implications

Implementing and embedding WHP as a health strategy raises ethical issues of interfering with employees’ health, is seen as the employee’s personal responsibility.

Originality/value

This study adds to knowledge of the difficulties of implementing and embedding WHP activities in the workplace and suggests an explicit and detailed research design.

Details

International Journal of Workplace Health Management, vol. 10 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8351

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