From Blaming the Middle to Harnessing its Potential: Creating Change Intermediaries

15 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2003

See all articles by Julia Balogun

Julia Balogun

City University London - Sir John Cass Business School

Abstract

Middle managers have been under attack as organizational downsizing and reengineering have reduced their number. They are also frequently portrayed as obstructive and resistant to change. However, recent research suggests that managers at middle levels in organizations may be able to make a strategic contribution. Data from research on how managers in an organization undergoing transformation experience change are used to build on this existing research to demonstrate that middle managers fulfil a complex 'change intermediary' position during implementation. The findings reveal that a key aspect of this position is the need for middle managers to engage in a range of activities to aid their interpretation of the change intent. This interpretation activity then informs the personal changes they attempt to undertake, how they help others through change, how they keep the business going during the transition and what changes they implement in their departments. The interpretation aspect of their role is often overlooked, leading to workload issues and role conflict. These findings offer an alternative perspective on perceived middle manager resistance and lead into suggestions for future research and organizational implications.

Suggested Citation

Balogun, Julia, From Blaming the Middle to Harnessing its Potential: Creating Change Intermediaries. British Journal of Management, Vol. 14, pp. 69-83, March 2003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=410952

Julia Balogun (Contact Author)

City University London - Sir John Cass Business School ( email )

106 Bunhill Row
London, EC1Y 8TZ
United Kingdom

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