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Normalized Intensity: The New Labour Process of Middle Management

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  • Leo McCann
  • Jonathan Morris
  • John Hassard

Abstract

Based on qualitative interviews (n = 64) within five UK organizations that have embarked on large-scale restructuring (including delayering, downsizing, culture change, role redesign, lean production) we argue that middle managers are currently experiencing significant and progressive work and personal pressures. Performance is monitored more closely, hours and intensity of work are increasing, roles and tasks are changing frequently, and prospects for promotion are downscaled within flattened hierarchies. Whereas middle managers report increased levels of autonomy and skill, are often well remunerated, and frequently appear motivated (at least in the private sector), we suggest their burgeoning grievances over working hours, role pressures and promotion prospects have worrying implications for the future performance of UK industry. We argue further that the motivation for corporations to embark on such large-scale restructuring is best understood with reference to the incessant demands of international capitalism. We conclude that such restructuring, and the personal managerial experiences that result from it, is in keeping with many, but crucially not all, of the trends predicted by Bravermanian labour process theory. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2008.

Suggested Citation

  • Leo McCann & Jonathan Morris & John Hassard, 2008. "Normalized Intensity: The New Labour Process of Middle Management," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(2), pages 343-371, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:45:y:2008:i:2:p:343-371
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kuhn, Dieter, 2011. "Delayering and Firm Performance: Evidence from Swiss firm-level Data," Working papers 2011/02, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
    2. Leo McCann, 2014. "Disconnected Amid the Networks and Chains: Employee Detachment from Company and Union after Offshoring," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 52(2), pages 237-260, June.
    3. Kemp-Benedict, Eric, 2015. "New ways to slice the pie: Span of control and wage and salary distribution within firms," MPRA Paper 77072, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 24 Feb 2017.
    4. Leo McCann & John Hassard & Jonathan Morris, 2010. "Restructuring Managerial Labour in the USA, the UK and Japan: Challenging the Salience of 'Varieties of Capitalism'," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 48(2), pages 347-374, June.
    5. Jixia Yang & Zhi-Xue Zhang & Anne S. Tsui, 2010. "Middle Manager Leadership and Frontline Employee Performance: Bypass, Cascading, and Moderating Effects," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(4), pages 654-678, June.
    6. Kemp-Benedict, Eric, 2015. "A middle-manager model of wage and salary distribution within firms," MPRA Paper 64303, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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