Session Details: Session 1050

Linking Middle Managers into the Strategy Process

Track H

Date: Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Time: 11:15 – 12:30


Room: Salon 20

Session Chair:
Donde Plowman, University of Tennessee

Title: A Middle Management Perspective: Current Contributions, Synthesis and Future Research


  • Bill Wooldridge, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Torsten Schmid, University of St. Gallen
  • Steven Floyd, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Abstract: In this paper, we review and synthesize research associated with a middle management perspective. Research in this domain has described the role of middle management in corporate entrepreneurship, renewal of organizational capabilities, innovation and organizational learning, strategy implementation and strategy making. The diversity of backgrounds and interests, however, has led to a fragmentation of extant research, limiting both its cumulative impact and future progress. The paper therefore elaborates a common middle management perspective by (i) describing its historical evolution and theoretical foundation, (ii) organizing and reviewing extant literature along five major research streams, and (iii) developing prior knowledge into a research framework as guide for future studies

Title: Antecedents of Managerial Role Perception in Strategy Projects


  • Roland Harste, McKinsey and Company
  • Ansgar Richter, University of Surrey

Abstract: Managers’ jobs in strategy projects are often characterized by role overload. However, little is known about why managers attribute particular importance to some roles, and less to others. We investigate individual-level factors and strategic, organizational and environmental context factors as antecedents of the importance managers attribute to their various roles in strategy. We apply factor analysis to data from a large-scale questionnaire survey among German managers in order to reconstruct Mintzberg’s managerial roles. We then use regression techniques to explore which factors help explain the variation in the perceived importance of these managerial roles. We find that individual-level factors, in particular those relating to managers’ experience, have an important effect on their role perception. In contrast, contextual factors appear to have relatively little explanatory power.

Title: How Middle Managers Use Symbolic Actions to Implement Strategy:


  • Anne Smith, University of Tennessee
  • Donde Plowman, University of Tennessee
  • Dennis Duchon, University of Tennessee

Abstract: In this study, we interviewed and observed high reputation plant managers in order to learn more about the behaviors and actions that account for middle management success. Our findings suggest that effective middle managers are not simply the passive instruments of higher authority. Rather, they use symbolic actions to create meaning which reduces uncertainty by reinforcing key values and beliefs. We identified key themes that emerged from field investigation of middle managers from eleven organizations. We propose that symbolic acts that convey the messages of walking the talk, people matter here, and we are open to ideas are associated with successful middle management implementation. Middle managers are responsible for implementing strategy, and, like their strategy-formulating superiors, they manage meaning with the use of symbolic actions.

Title: Linking the Motives of Middle Managers to Perceptions of Stakeholder Salience


  • Donal Crilly, London Business School
  • Pamela Sloan, HEC-Montreal

Abstract: We present and test a model to explain middle managers’ perceptions of stakeholder salience. Our contention is that middle managers’ attention to stakeholders is guided by individual motives and organizational routines. Learning routines and performance evaluation practices shape managers’ motives, while reporting routines directly influence managers’ perceptions of stakeholder salience. We test our hypotheses using survey data collected from 379 managers in multinational corporations. Preliminary findings suggest that instrumental motives increase the salience of stakeholders directly implicated in the production function, including customers, employees and suppliers, while institutionally-driven motives increase the salience of more distant stakeholders, including governments and communities. Values-based motives have little impact on stakeholder salience. Organizational routines show a mixed effect. Learning routines are more influential than reporting and performance assessment practices.

All Sessions in Track H...

Sun: 10:00 – 11:30
Session 1504: Strategy Process Routines and their Content Outcomes I.
Sun: 13:00 – 14:30
Session 1604: Strategy Process Routines and their Content Outcomes II
Sun: 15:00 – 16:30
Session 1704: Strategy Process Routines and their Content Outcomes III.
Mon: 11:15 – 12:30
Session 1053: Turnaround and Alignment
Mon: 15:30 – 16:45
Session 1051: Restructuring and Change
Mon: 17:00 – 18:15
Session 1054: Facing Competing Demands to Create Value
Tue: 11:15 – 12:30
Session 1050: Linking Middle Managers into the Strategy Process
Tue: 14:30 – 15:45
Session 1049: Strategic Decision Making
Wed: 10:00 – 11:15
Session 1052: Resources, Capabilities and Competitive Advantage

Strategic Management Society

Cologne Conference