Trade-offs between efficiency and legitimacy when implementing a large change program at the middle management level
Paper in proceedings, 2013
In his Harvard Business Review article of 1972, Hugo Uyterhoeven discussed an important difference between top managers and middle managers. While both categories needs to make sure that directives of change are implemented, middle managers have a two-fold task, as they also need to figure out how to actually implement the change. HBR has reprinted Uyterhoeven’s article twice as an ’HBR classic’. Our study aims to investigate Uyterhoeven’s claim of a difference in logic between top and middle management when implementing change. We would expect such a difference to more likely occur when performing change that would be difficult to implement and that would exhaust top managements ability to control the details. Therefore, we have investigated a case of change encompassing a multinational company and that would require organizational learning about its own processes.
Our findings show that while differences of logic occurred between top and middle management, differences of logic also occurred at the middle management level between different parts of the organization. These differences were analysed according to the dimensions of organizational legitimacy and organizational efficiency. We discuss the trade-off between the efficiency of an organizational change, and its legitimacy. We argue that an analysis of this trade-off should be included in the stakeholder analysis made by the change agents.
Business Continuity Management