Who Succeeds In The Murky Middle?

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Timm L. Kainen
David P. Boyd


middle management


This exploratory study examines technically educated middle managers performing ad hoc projects in flat organizations and develops a typology for examining the behavioral patterns associated with their effectiveness. Initial findings indicate the greatest success was achieved by “Type 1” managers (the Leaders) who were able to integrate collaborative selling skills and technical expertise within a web of both formal and informal interactions. Moderate success accrued to “Type 2” managers (the Learners) who used collaborative selling skills to develop social networks that allowed them to expand their own technical expertise. “Type 3” managers (the Leapers) primarily relied upon technical expertise as the tool for interacting with others and enjoyed only modest success. Although “Type 4” managers (the Laggards) had the requisite technical knowledge base, they were the least successful because their lack of collaborative selling skills made it difficult to utilize a compensatory social network. Suggestions are provided for leaders seeking to leverage and direct the abilities of key staff.


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