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Dependent leaders

Role-specific challenges for middle managers
PhD ceremony:Mr B.C.M. (Bart) Voorn
When:January 11, 2018
Supervisors:prof. dr. J.I. (Janka) Stoker, prof. dr. F. Walter
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Economics and Business
Dependent leaders

Mocked and ridiculed by many, praised by few, middle managers have challenging roles in organizations. It is typified by unique dependencies on different aspects of their work circumstances, including their superiors’ leadership, assigned goals, and tenure. Empirical research exploring specific challenges they face, however, is rather limited. The main question in this dissertation is therefore: How do middle managers’ dependencies translate into their leadership? Three different dependencies are examined. First, middle managers lead others, but are also led. As such, their leadership behavior may depend upon the leadership style of their own superior. Next, middle managers are oftentimes responsible for executing a strategy and, thus, have little autonomy in setting direction themselves. In particular, being assigned difficult goals and translating these—via their own leadership behavior—into action is challenging. Lastly, middle managers’ roles are typified by dependency on both organizational human resource procedures and on external developments that can impact their career paths. How do these changing career paths shape their leadership? In three empirical studies, drawing on large samples of data, this dissertation aspires to identify underlying mechanisms and boundary conditions of the challenges faced by middle managers, therewith furthering the organizational behavior & human resource management literature, and contributing to the ability of organizations to effectively leverage these managers’ contributions to organizational performance.