Introduction to the concept of work stress

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What is a middle manager

Middle managers are traditionally seen as hierarchically below senior top management and above first-level supervision (Wooldridge et al., 2008), responsible for a business unit at the middle level in the organizational hierarchy (Uyterhoeven, 1972). Hence, these managers are supervisors at the same time as they are being supervised (Dutton & Ashford, 1993), a unique position due their access to top management combined with good knowledge of operations (Floyd & Wooldridge, 1997). This combination enables middle managers to mediate between an organization’s strategy and day-today tasks (Nonaka, 1994), giving them an important role as interfaces between otherwise disconnected organizational domains (Floyd & Wooldridge, 1997; Nonaka, 1994). Bartlett & Goshal (1993) developed an organizational model describing middle managers as horizontal integrators of strategy and capabilities. The role of middle management focuses on communicating information between different levels, i.e. the top and operating levels of the organization (Floyd & Lane, 2000), by implementing top management strategies and decisions and exercise control over subordinates (Harding et al., 2014). Thus, middle managers can be described as managers who coordinate, mediate, negotiate, and interpret connections between the organization’s strategic and operational levels (Floyd & Wooldridge, 1997).

The function of a middle manager

The definition of middle managers that this thesis leans upon are managers with access to senior management as well as knowledge of day to day operations and closeness to employees (Wooldridge, Schmid and Floyd, 2008), indicate that they hold a complex role in the organizational hierarchy. According to McConville (2006), the role of middle managers can be said to be more difficult to distinguish compared to other management positions. Traditionally, it has been a relatively simple task to identify top management as those who define missions and are responsible for strategy formulation. Similarly, first-line managers can be defined as those who control the daily detail operations on the ‘shop floor’. Contrary, the role of middle managers are harder to distinguish as the boundaries between hierarchical levels are often blurred. The development toward flatter hierarchical structures further contributes to the ambiguity of their role (McConville, 2006).
A study conducted by Dopson & Stewart (1990) emphazise how previous research on middle management tend to present a rather gloomy picture, portraying middle managers as caught in the middle of the organizational hierarchy with a progress toward a decline in the importance of their role. Balogun’s (2003) research on middle managers roles during change implementations outlines a similar view, arguing for how middle managers in previous research often have been portrayed as hindering and being resistant to change, hence having a negative impact on organizational development. In their research Dopson & Stewart (1990), however, highlights a number of studies arguing for the reshaping of the middle management role rather than for its decline (e.g. Kanter, 1982; Nonaka, 1988). Other studies follows in this ambiguous notion of the function of middle management. Harding et al. (2014) argues that middle managers can be seen as vital and loyal mediators between top management and junior employees on one hand, but can contrary be seen as a problem hindering development.
Despite the contradicting views, most management and business research of today support the notion of the importance of middle management in organizations. Kanter (1982) was one of the earlier advocates for the need to recognize middle management’s increased importance, stating that the productivity of of an organization will increasingly depend on the degree to which it give room for its middle managers to be innovative and combine ideas and action. Research have emphasized their importance in organizational strategy (Wooldridge et al., 2008; Floyd and Wooldridge, 1997) and organizational change (Balogun, 2003; Balogun & Johnson, 2004; Rouleau & Balogun, 2011). Huy (2002) argues for how middle managers are closer to their employees and thus, likely to be more aware of their employees’ emotional needs as well as having the time to interact with their subordinates. Floyd and Wooldridge (1997) suggest that middle management involvement in both the definition and execution of strategic decisions is significant and that it should be extended beyond the top management team and that the importance of inclusiveness should be a feature of the strategic decision process. Research by Balogun, (2003) shows how middle managers fulfill positions as complex “change intermediaries” during strategic implementations. This suggests that middle managers play multiple roles and to impose changes in their department is only one of several roles the middle manager has to fulfill.

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1. Introduction 
1.1. Background
1.2 Problem Discussion
1.3 The research purpose and formulation of research questions
1.4 Delimitations of the study
1.5 Contribution
2. Theoretical Framework 
2.1 What is a middle manager
2.2 The function of a middle manager
2.3 The concept of role conflict
2.4 Role conflict among middle managers
2.5 Changes in middle managers work role
2.6 Role conflict and work stress
2.7 The concept of transactional stress
2.8 Introduction to the concept of work stress
2.10 Stress management
2.11 Individual Coping strategies
3. Method 
3.1 Research philosophy
3.2 Research design and method
3.3. Research approach
3.4. Sample
3.5. Research strategy and data collection .
3.6. Instruments
3.7. Data validity and reliability
3.8. Internal consistency
3.9. Variables and measures
4. Results 
4.1. Correlation matrix .
4.2. Assessing the assumptions .
4.3. Hypotheses testing
4.4. Interpretations of result
4.5. Control variables
5. Discussion
6. Conclusion
7. References 
8. Appendix A: SPSS Output
9. Appendix B: Questionnaire

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