Davies, Julie (2014) Hybrid upper middle manager strategizing practices: Linking archetypes and contingencies in the UK business school deanship. Doctoral thesis, Warwick University.

This empirical study explores links between the micro-strategizing practices and roles of hybrid upper middle managers of professionalised business units using contingency theory and a strategy-as-practice lens. Five important contingencies are identified: (i) seniority; (ii) hybridity; (iii) centre-periphery relations; (iv) knowledge intensity; and (v) temporal changes during individual tenures and in a dynamic industry. Seven archetypes of strategist are derived from the analysis: Dealmaker; Debater; Defender; Deliberator; Doer; Drifter; Dynamo. The thesis contributes to the sparse literature on business unit managers (Finkelstein et al, 2008: 10). It responds to Vaara and Whittington’s (2012: 286) call for greater ‘recognition of how [micro]activities are embedded in broader societal or macro-institutional contexts’ by making connections between practices, roles, contingencies, and archetypes. The study asks: How do management scholars strategize what they profess? The qualitative research design is based on first-order accounts of three groups of 24 UK business school deans: (1) 12 current, mainly university-based, business school deans; (2) in-depth vignettes of seven successive leaders (including a dean in the first dataset) over the history of a leading business school, and interviews with 28 additional respondents; and (3) a diverse sample of six veteran and novice deans. Interviews are available on YouTube. The research context is a mature industry that has experienced phenomenal growth and major public policy shifts. The case studies raise interesting questions about strategists who are responsible for the impact and legitimacy of business and management education in a post-crisis era (Currie et al, 2010). This research contributes to strategic management literature by extending Floyd and Wooldridge's (1992, 1994, 1996) typology of middle management roles to produce archetypes of strategic practitioners. The central argument is that practices in the roles of ‘facilitating adaptability’ and ‘synthesizing information’ that were applied in deans’ professional capacities as management scholars and educators were more dominant in their discussions than activities related to 'championing alternatives' and 'implementing deliberate strategy.' The roles were more balanced amongst current deans. Individuals who were perceived as most successful adopted lengthy pre-tenure transitions, effective committee chairing behaviours, they completed full tenures, and exited voluntarily. They also built constructive centre-periphery relations, supportive teams, and consensus. In future, these crossover professionals need to demonstrate greater public legitimacy and performance management practices. Further research on the emergence of serial hybrid upper middle managers, transnational, cross-sector, microfoundations, and ethnographic studies is discussed.


Download (3MB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email