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Rethinking ‘Top‐Down’ and ‘Bottom‐Up’ Roles of Top and Middle Managers in Organizational Change: Implications for Employee Support

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  • Mariano L. M. Heyden
  • Sebastian P. L. Fourné
  • Bastiaan A. S. Koene
  • Renate Werkman
  • Shahzad (Shaz) Ansari

Abstract

In this study we integrate insights from ‘top‐down’ and ‘bottom‐up’ traditions in organizational change research to understand employees’ varying dispositions to support change. We distinguish between change initiation and change execution roles and identify four possible role configurations in which top managers (TMs) and middle managers (MMs) can feature in change. We contend that both TMs and MMs can play change initiation and/or change execution roles, TMs and MMs have different strengths and limitations for taking on different change roles, and their relative strengths and limitations are compounded or attenuated based on the specific configuration of change roles. We subsequently hypothesize employee support for change in relation to different TM‐MM change role configurations. Our findings show that change initiated by TMs does not engender above‐average level of employee support. However, change initiated by MMs engenders above‐average level of employee support, and even more so, if TMs handle the change execution.

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  • Mariano L. M. Heyden & Sebastian P. L. Fourné & Bastiaan A. S. Koene & Renate Werkman & Shahzad (Shaz) Ansari, 2017. "Rethinking ‘Top‐Down’ and ‘Bottom‐Up’ Roles of Top and Middle Managers in Organizational Change: Implications for Employee Support," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(7), pages 961-985, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:54:y:2017:i:7:p:961-985
    DOI: 10.1111/joms.12258
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Zhaojun Yang & Jun Sun & Yali Zhang & Ying Wang, 2020. "Synergy between green supply chain management and green information systems on corporate sustainability: an informal alignment perspective," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 1165-1186, February.
    3. Marko Reimer & Sebastiaan Doorn & Mariano L. M. Heyden, 2018. "Unpacking Functional Experience Complementarities in Senior Leaders’ Influences on CSR Strategy: A CEO–Top Management Team Approach," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 151(4), pages 977-995, September.
    4. Mom, T.J.M., 2019. "Strategic Growth and Implementation: Thriving in a Disruptive Landscape," ERIM Inaugural Address Series Research in Management EIA 2019-076-S&E, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam..

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