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Title: The strategic practices of middle managers in public services : a case of institutional work upwards and outwards
Author: Cooper, Simon
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2015
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Middle managers play a crucial role in contributing to strategy. Much existing research focuses on trying to understand the desired characteristics and competencies of these managers, in order to explain their ability to sell issues to top executives (upwards) and external stakeholders (outwards). Though this yields valuable insights, it does not account for the role of an institution as: 'more or less taken for granted behaviour that is underpinned by normative systems and cognitive understanding that give meaning to social exchange and thus enable self-reproducing social order' (Greenwood, Oliver, Sahlin and Suddaby; 2008:4). This thesis examines how middle managers sell issues upwards and outwards, in a setting where attending to institutions is central: public service reform, concerning home improvement. It does so by looking through the lens of institutional work. This allows insight into how different jurisdictions and organizational and professional boundaries overlap and at times conflict. In analysing interviews and observations, the thesis mobilizes a central concept in institutional work: the concept of institutional pillars, to explain differential levels of success in implementing reform. These pillars can be regulatory (to do with policies and conventions), cultural ('the way we do things around here'), or normative (concerning basic values). In broad terms the thesis demonstrates that reform in this setting is progressively less likely to be implemented as one moves from the regulatory domain, to the cultural and normative domains. This complements accounts of middle manager competence, with a more fine-grained insight into how contextual complexities can prefigure the likelihood of successful strategy implementation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) ; Home Improvement Agency (HIA)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HD Industries. Land use. Labor