The use of informal controls and evasion of formal management controls by middle managers

In our talk/webinar we presented findings from our research into how middle managers simultaneously engage in different strategic roles and their use of formal and informal control practices across these roles. Using data from four case studies in the medical device and IT industries, we delved into the complexities of control combinations. Our findings reveal that implementing strategy is the most frequent strategic role they are required to perform, they are also required to engage in championing, synthesising and facilitating adaptability activities. To carry out these roles, middle managers combine formal and informal controls with evidence of both complementary and substitution effects. Integrative liaison devices were found to be a particularly important element of the control combinations. The study contributes to the literature by illustrating the importance of informal controls at middle managers level and illustrates the array of causal forms through which formal and informal controls are used. Further, the study extends our understanding of how management control practices can be evaded and become more acquiescent through the use of informal controls and integrative liaison devices. Finally, while the upward and downward linking pin role of middle managers has been emphasised in the literature, we showed the importance of horizontal linking at this level and the use of integrative liaison devices to facilitate this.
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