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

March 23, 2022 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Location: via Zoom, NUI Galway
Galway, Ireland

Speaker(s): Prof Breda Sweeney and Dr Patricia Martyn

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In our talk/webinar we present 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 delve 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 show the importance of horizontal linking at this level and the use of integrative liaison devices to facilitate this.


Prof Breda Sweeney

Dr Patricia Martyn

This is one of a series of events in Whitaker Webinars. Prof Breda Sweeney and Dr Patricia Martyn will be representing the Performance Management Cluster.