Relationship evolution between the top and middle management in a strategic implementation process in the context of the COVID-19 crisis

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5585/riae.v21i2.21448

Keywords:

Covid-19, Crisis, Strategy implementation, Middle managers, Top management.

Abstract

Objective: The purpose of our study was to investigate how the relationship between top and middle management occurs during a strategy implementation in a crisis context, more specifically the one triggered by Covid-19 virus.
Methodology/approach: The approach used was a single, in-depth case study. We adopted a process perspective, which considers the sequence of events and choices made over time, at multiple levels and units of analysis. We analyzed documents and interviewed members of top management, middle management, operational management and two consultants working in the investigated company. We then seek to identify instances of action and interaction where patterns could emerge.
Originality/Relevance: There is an increasing number of studies about the role of middle management in the organizations strategic process, but there are still few empirical studies in crisis contexts. This study investigates strategic implementation process during the Covid-19 crisis, shedding light on dynamics of control, relationship and autonomy involving top and middle levels of management.
Main results: We identified that the Covid-19 crisis enabled the closer approximation of top management with the middle managers, intensified by Crisis Committee meetings in the organization. The crisis management also catalyzed the process of reducing ambiguities and opening up senior management for the presentation and acceptance of ideas from the middle echelons.
Theoretical/methodological contributions: Our findings contribute to the literature on crises, revealing both the process of strengthening relationships between top and middle managers, as well as the building content from the contributions of the middle managers, which can lead to a superior result. We also endorse the impacts of the facilitating conditions proposed by Mantere (2008) based on the work of Floyd & Wooldridge (1992), even in the context of crisis. We also endorsed the proposals by Macpherson, Breslin and Akinci (2021) on the role of middle managers as connectors for initiatives in extreme situations that, otherwise, would not have visibility.
Social contributions / for practice: For practice, we launch additional clues in favor of greater openness of top managers for the participation of middle managers in the implementation and strategic adaptation, even in a context of crisis. Similarly, we demonstrated that extreme crisis contexts are prone to rethink interorganizational structures and relationships, aiming at the renewal of management strategies and roles.

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Author Biographies

Livia Aquino Machado, Fundação Dom Cabral (FDC)

Master in Business Administration, Fundação Dom Cabral (FDC)

Maria Elisa Brandão Bernardes, Fundação Dom Cabral (FDC)

PhD in Management, Fundação Dom Cabral (FDC)

Samir Lótfi Vaz, Fundação Dom Cabral (FDC)

Doctor of Business Administration, Fundação Dom Cabral (FDC)

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Published

2022-06-30

How to Cite

Machado, L. A., Bernardes, M. E. B., & Vaz, S. L. (2022). Relationship evolution between the top and middle management in a strategic implementation process in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. Revista Ibero-Americana De Estratégia, 21(2), e21448. https://doi.org/10.5585/riae.v21i2.21448

Issue

Section

Enfrentamento e respostas estratégicas a crises e incertezas