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Middle management

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Middle management

Middle management is the intermediate

  • Melissa Korn (2013-08-05). "What It's Like Being a Middle Manager Today".  

External links

  1. ^ Peter Aucoin (1989), Middle Managers, Institute of Public Administration of Canada, p. 191,  
  2. ^ a b c d Dance, Anthony (2011). "The ambiguity of the middle management role". Manager Performance. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Zhang, Ann Yan; Tsui, Anne S.; Song, Lynda Jiwen; Li, Chaoping; Jia, Liangding (2008). "How do I trust thee? The employee‐organization relationship, supervisory support, and middle manager trust in the organization.". Human Resource Management 47 (1): 111–132. 
  4. ^ Likert, R (1961). New Patterns of Management. New-York: McGraw-Hill. 
  5. ^ Barnard, Chester I. (1973). The Functions of the Executive. London: Oxford University Press. 
  6. ^ a b Floyd, S. W.; Wooldridge, B. (1992). "Middle management involvement in strategy and its association with strategic type: A research note.". Strategic Management Journal 13 (S1): 153–167. 
  7. ^ Rouleau, L.; Balogun, J. (2011). "Middle managers, strategic sensemaking, and discursive competence.". Journal of Management Studies 48 (5): 953–983. 
  8. ^ Ranson, S.; Hinings, B.; Greenwood, R. (1980). "The structuring of organizational structures". Administrative Science Quarterly (25): 1–17. 
  9. ^ Dutton, J. E.; Duncan, R. B. (1987). "The influence of the strategic planning process on strategic change". Strategic Management Journal 8: 103–116. 
  10. ^ Floyd, Steven W.; Wooldridge, Bill (1997). "Middle management's strategic influence and organizational performance". Journal of Management Studies 3 (34): 466–482. 
  11. ^ Connors, J. L.; Romberg, T. A. (1991). "Middle management and quality control: Strategies for obstructionism". Human organisation 50: 61–65. 
  12. ^ Scarbrough, H.; Burrell, G. (1996). Clegg, S.; Palmer, G., eds. "The Axeman Cometh: the changing role and knowledge of middle managers". The politics of management knowledge. 
  13. ^ Dopson, S.; Stewart, R. (1993). "Information technology, organizational restructuring and the future of middle management". New Technology, Work and Employment 1 (8): 10–20. 
  14. ^ Williams, David. "The End Of Middle Managers (And Why They'll Never Be Missed)". Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  15. ^ Balogun, J (2003). "From Blaming the Middle to Harnessing its Potential: Creating Change Intermediaries". British Journal of Management 14 (1): 69–83. 


Development of the information technology enabled the executive management to increase the span of control and reduce the need in middle management. Moreover, increasingly big number of modern organizations become more flatter and downsized in the pursuit of flexibility, higher competitiveness and innovation. According to David Williams, flat organizations promote greater intercommunication and efficiency of the workers.[14] As a result, many organizations are being restructured, middle management is being reduced and their roles are thought to be out-dated and unnecessary.
At the same time, there is still a need in a middle manager as an employee and they continue playing a significant role in organizations, specifically in setting an overall strategy and targets.[15] Changes in the global market forced them to become more flexible, stress-resistant, acquire new skills. In addition, middle management tend to get a wider range of tasks and responsibilities.

Future of a middle management

Overall necessity of middle managers in an organization is questioned. They are said to be too costly, non-effective and constantly underperforming employees. It has been stated that middle managers do not carry out their main duties of linking the organization and reporting effectively, which leads to a block of communication between different levels of staff.[12] Thus, as rapid growth of globalization put pressures on businesses in terms of cost effectiveness and speed of information flow within the organization, middle management make companies less flexible and competitive.[13]


Middle managers' reluctance to lose control in their teams and satisfaction with a settled situation could lead to their resistance in any changes in the strategy or direction of an organization. Usually, the resistance does not take an aggressive form such as refusal to carry out tasks or unconcealed confrontation, but result in a lack of support and eagerness to convey only those tasks, impact of which is clearly visible to the top management.[11] This creates barriers to a growth of a company and lags the overall working process.


Middle management is often accused of possessing too much influence. Their centric position in an organization allows to influence strategy and actions in "both upward and downward direction".[6] When supplying information to the executive level, middle managers interpret it subjectively and may insinuate it with their own opinion and evaluation.[8] Further, proximity to the boardroom makes it easy for the manager to promote his own interests, by "synthesizing" the information and presenting data from a certain strategic perspective.[9] The same level of influence can be exploited by a middle manager towards the lower staff. Driven by the reasons of maintaing a reputation, strengthening the power and influence, middle manager may introduce company's major strategic decisions in a light, beneficial for his designs.[10]


Role of a middle management is subjected to a number of criticisms. This position is often seen as unnecessary and middle managers are blamed for holding back the organization from achieving its full potential and using the influence for their own purposes.


  • Middle manager is a semi-executive position - line managers are promoted to become middle managers. Thus, middle managers enjoy greater salary, benefits and a closer position to a boardroom.
  • System of subordination - line managers are subordinate to middle managers. Middle managers are responsible for large teams and are unable to control performance of every single individual. Thus, direct or line manager measures the team performance and reports to the middle manager.
  • Set of duties - unlike line managers, who have a clear procedure of work and set of duties, middle managers have only target goals. The way of achieving those goals is decided by manager independently.

Middle management position is often mistakenly described as a similar to the line management one. However, there are some differences:[2]

Middle manager vs. Line manager

  • Leadership. The most important competency that consists of many skills. As an inherent leader, middle manager has to possess sense-making and persuading skills. He must be able to motivate, influence and guide his subordinates, become a role model for them and demonstrate the quality and the level of work contribution, necessary for a certain organization. In addition, it includes desire for continuous self-development and learning.[3][7]
  • Decision-making. Ability to quickly solve the problems, make decisions under pressure and take responsibility for the outcome.
  • Creativity & Visioning. Manager should have a clear vision of the strategy implementation and be creative in overcoming the possible difficulties.[2]
  • Performance management. Involves managing the performance of subordinates and, specifically, the line managers, effectively, by setting clear and measurable objectives for them and provide coaching. Middle manager must be also skilled in presenting, persuading and influencing people.

A number of competencies critical to become an effective middle manager.


Strategic functions involve analyzing a subordinate group in terms of productivity and financial effectiveness, creating a strategy of improving the current situation and reporting to the executive management in the form of attending a boardroom meeting or a discussion.

  • Strategic

One of the most important function of a middle manager is motivating, leading and inspiring his subordinates. This also includes building a team and supporting any team member when necessary.

  • Human resources

Middle manager is in charge of facilitating any changes needed in an organization and creating an effective working environment. He administrates day-to-day routines, monitors performance and makes sure everything is done in the compliance with organization's needs.[3]

  • Technical

[2] Other functions can be divided into three main categories:[6] Primary responsibility of a middle manager is to implement a strategy, created by the executive level, in the most efficient way possible. In order to reach the target goals, manager may adjust and interpret the initial plan.
[5] Middle manager is a link between the

Functions of a middle manager

Middle management in an organization


  • Middle management in an organization 1
    • Functions of a middle manager 1.1
    • Competencies 1.2
    • Middle manager vs. Line manager 1.3
  • Criticism 2
    • Influence 2.1
    • Resistance 2.2
    • Necessity 2.3
  • Future of a middle management 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Middle management may be reduced in organizations as a result of flatter — empowering the employees and making the organization more innovative and flexible.


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