You are Who I Say You are and You Do What I Say You Do: The TMT as Co-Constituted by Middle Manager

Elena Tavella, Jane Le

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This practice-theoretical paper explores how the dynamic interface of top management and middle managers (TMT-MM interface) co-constitutes TMT strategizing. Using the notion of strategic concept, our 12-month inductive case study of the TMT-MM interface at an elite Scandinavian organization explores how the interface co-constitutes TMT strategizing by (i) constructing the ‘TMT’ in relation to different strategic initiatives, (ii) formulating action expectations, and (iii) proposing or dictating TMT action. We highlight the critical role of communicative practice in the process, with constructive communicative practices leading to indirect TMT strategizing by proposing TMT action, while destructive communicative practices lead to direct TMT strategizing by dictating action. We contribute to the literature on upward strategizing by going beyond influencing to interfacing; we contribute to the literature on strategic concepts to show that different types of strategic concepts exist (content-, process-, and relationship-based) and can influence organizational activity and practice differently. We also demonstrate that concepts are mobilized and contextualized differently as they are employed in specific contexts, and can have effects that go beyond mere sensemaking and legitimizing.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event80th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management - Online
Duration: 7 Aug 202011 Aug 2020
Conference number: 80


Conference80th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management
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Online Conference

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