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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Management

Year Degree Awarded

2016

Month Degree Awarded

February

First Advisor

William (Bill) Wooldridge, PhD

Second Advisor

Steven W. Floyd, PhD

Third Advisor

D. Anthony Butterfield, PhD

Fourth Advisor

Aline G. Sayer, PhD

Subject Categories

Strategic Management Policy

Abstract

The middle-management perspective has produced a great understanding of the connection of middle managers involvement in strategy and organizational outcomes (Floyd & Wooldridge, 1992, 1996; Floyd & Wooldridge, 2000; Wooldridge & Floyd, 1990). Strategic role conflict has been identified in the literature as a hindrance, even an impediment, to effective middle-management involvement in strategy (Floyd & Lane, 2000). Despite a growing body of theoretical work by scholars on the strategy process, there has been limited empirical research of the antecedents of strategic role conflict.

Drawing from the literatures of role conflict, middle management perspective, and social exchange theory, this dissertation hypothesized that demographic characteristics of middle managers, the nature of their position within the organization, the quality of their relationships with top management, and the degree of dissimilarity of their environmental perceptions vis-à-vis top management are associated with middle managers’ strategic role conflict.

A large, global manufacturing company based in the United States participated in the study. Survey data was collected from 249 middle managers at four organizational levels within two divisions. Two structural models were tested. Data showed that the more parsimonious model was not supported while the less parsimonious model was supported. Results indicated that key predictors of middle managers’ strategic role conflict were the amount of boundary spanning that middle managers engage in as part of their jobs, the degree of disparity in their perception of the products and factors markets vis-à-vis top management, the frequency of their direct communication with their top manager, the amount of mutual trust between the top manager and the middle manager, and the amount of disparity in the feelings of mutual affect between the top manager and the middle manager.

This study contributes to the strategy literature by demonstrating the applicability of role conflict theory to the strategy process in explicating links between strategic role conflict and its antecedents. A better understanding of strategic role conflict is important to the strategy process literature because of its theorized interference with middle manager’s effective strategic performance and its possible negative consequences for the organization. An alternative model of strategic role conflict is presented.

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