This study was designed to determine the role of interactions by middle managers in sustaining or altering the social structures of a single government agency during an externally mandated restructuring. The study drew on the quadripartite nature of structuration presented in Stones' strong structuration theory. The research site was the headquarters of a state National Guard, transitioning from primarily administrative responsibilities to an operational joint activity of the Department of Defense. The agents in focus were directors responsible for operationalizing the transformation, who were one level below the executive director. Data were collected primarily through interviews with the participants, supported by observations and review of historical and archival documents. The use of open coding, member check, and peer review ensured the validity of the research.
The study provided evidence that examining the interactions of the middle managers is a valid method to determine production of, and reproduction of, social structures within an organization undergoing radical transformation. The directors, by conscious action, utilized interactions to sustain desired social structures even when contrary to the direction of the executive leadership in situations where the middle managers, as agents “in situ,” believed the directive to be contrary to the internal structures of the organization. Conversely, the study demonstrated that through interactions, the middle managers implemented changes in the internal structures in response to change initiatives they supported.
The study demonstrated that the middle managers interacted significantly with their external environment to gain knowledge of the potential impacts of the transformation, to exchange concepts and ideas that would allow the refinement of the implementation within the research site, and ultimately to inform external stakeholders of the impacts and outcomes of the transformation. The middle managers drew on internal structures, including the conjecturally specific knowledge and general dispositions of the organization, to evaluate potential responses to directed changes and ultimately to select the outcome to be effected. Internal structures were used at both the micro (individual) level and the meso (team) level. Finally, the research demonstrated that middle managers utilized their actions and practices to sustain or alter social structures within the research site.
|Advisor:||Schwandt, David R.|
|Commitee:||Gorman, Margaret, Spencer, John|
|School:||The George Washington University|
|Department:||Education and Human Development|
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||DAI-A 71/07, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Management, Organization Theory|
|Keywords:||Interactions, Middle managers, Organizational change, Organizational transformation, Structuration|
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