Friday, June 3, 2011

How Middle Managers' Group-Focus Emotions and Social Identities Influence Strategy Implementation
Strategic Management Journal 32 (2011) 1387–1410

The literature on strategy formation has overlooked social-emotional factors. The results of a three-year field study of a large technology firm show how top executives who favor an affect-neutral task approach can inadvertently activate middle managers’ organization-related social identities, such as length of time working for the company (newcomers versus veterans) and language spoken by senior executives (English versus French), generating group-focus emotions. These emotions prompt middle managers—even those elevated to powerful positions by top executives—to support or covertly dismiss a particular strategic initiative even when their immediate personal interests are not directly under threat. This study contributes to the strategy formation and implementation literature by linking senior executives’ actions and middle managers’ social identities, group-focus emotions, and resulting behaviors to strategy outcomes.