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Planning for Higher Education Journal

Published
February 7, 2023

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Managing Change from the Murky Middle

Offering Role Structure and Support Helps Middle Managers Effectively Lead Change

Middle managers are often blamed for change failure and portrayed as change resisters or saboteurs. However, what looks like obstructionist behavior could actually be the observable effects of role ambiguity.

From Volume 51 Number 2 | January–March 2023

Abstract: Middle managers are often blamed for change failure and portrayed as change resisters or saboteurs. However, what looks like obstructionist behavior could actually be the observable effects of role ambiguity. Absent clear expectations, middle managers might assume their own unsanctioned change leadership path or take on no role at all because they lack understanding about their responsibilities. This article explores the complexity of middle managers’ experience, examines how middle managers at a two-year college navigated the uncertainty of their role within the context of institutional change, and provides readers with suggestions for equipping middle managers to become effective change agents.

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