People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 67

Divisions, fractures, and "faultlines"
within the executive team may become
apparent, at least to middle managers.
Members of the TMT often find themselves aligning with other members and
natural subgroups within the C-suite
may begin to appear.
As it turns out, dividing lines within
TMTs have an inordinate negative
impact on an organization's ability to
implement strategy. Surprisingly, the
reason for this lies with middle managers and their relationships with the
unique dual roles that chief executives
play as both supervisors and as members of the powerful top management
team.
In this issue of People + Strategy, we
analyze new research that addresses top
management teams, middle managers,
and the challenge of strategy implementation. Amy Ou (National University of Singapore), Jamie Seo (California
State University, Fullerton), Dongwon
Choi (NEOMA Business School), and
Peter W. Hom (Arizona State University) recently published their research
findings in an article entitled, "When
can humble top executives retain
middle managers? The moderating role
of top management team faultlines."
Their research was published in the
Academy of Management Journal (2017).

The Challenge for Middle
Managers

It is well known that chief executives
play point when it comes to designing
an organization's strategy. Yet it is also
understood that the task of leading a
company's strategy implementation falls
squarely upon the shoulders of middle
management. Thus, top management
teams rely heavily upon middle managers to execute the strategies that
they've designed. According to Ou et
al, "As central linking pins in strategy
processes, middle managers (MMs)
initiate, champion, and execute firm
strategies. Their voluntary turnover
can thus hinder-if not undermine-
strategy implementation because loss
of MMs' social and human capital disrupts operational efficiency, induces
proprietary technological knowledge
spillovers, and shrinks the talent pool
for succession. Therefore, it is imperative that top management sustains

their firms' competitive advantage in
MM talent."1
In other words, middle managers are
key to strategy implementation, and for
an organization to improve its strategic
advantage, it is critical to increase MM
loyalty and reduce voluntary turnover.
Most of the prevailing wisdom regarding
retention focuses on the individual level
relationship between supervisors and
subordinates. In this new research study,
Ou and her colleagues show why there
is more to the story for middle managers-especially key MMs who work
closely with the top management team.
Middle managers who report directly
to members of the top management
team watch their supervisors closely for
expected behaviors. They meet with
their assigned member of the TMT and

cultivate." In other words, senior MMs
are supervised by an individual chief
executive and they are also influenced
by the corporate climate created by the
TMT as a team.
When the TMT as a collective sets
forth a unified strategic direction and
when each TMT member as an individual communicates expectations aligned
with this united front, MMs can move
forward with confidence toward execution. But what happens when there are
apparent divisions among members of
the top management team?

The Challenge for TMTs

Top management teams are not
immune from the same factors and
challenges that other teams have. They
work through periodic personality

As we know, a central responsibility for the
top management team, in addition to strategy
formulation, is to create a climate or context that
supports the mission and engenders the entire
workforce to work well together.
work on priorities for their assigned
functional areas of responsibility within
the company. Yet senior middle managers are also keenly aware of expectations from the TMT as a whole.
As we know, a central responsibility
for the top management team, in addition to strategy formulation, is to create
a climate or context that supports
the mission and engenders the entire
workforce to work well together. Middle
managers monitor TMT expectations
by closely following changes in the
organizational climate and company
norms which are greatly influenced by
the C-suite as a team.
C-suite executives play a dual role as
middle managers' "immediate leaders
and as members of top management
teams who collectively govern MMs
(and the entire workforce). Indeed,
ample studies have attested to how MMs
track TMT qualities to ascertain contextual favorability for actions and deduce
what behaviors are expected and rewarded in organizational climates TMTs

differences, role conflicts, communication issues, resource needs, and varying
interests. They also continuously cycle
through the stages of forming, storming, norming, and performing.
Top management teams, like teams
in general, are prone to divisions and
dividing lines that fracture TMTs into
subgroups. These fractures or "faultlines" are typically based on competing
interests, but are often influenced by
demographics such as age, gender, race,
tenure, education, functional areas,
and other personal characteristics. A
subgroup of TMT executives may form
and align itself against other subgroups.
"Faultlines cause subunits to be behaviorally fragmented, ...undermanaging
or mismanaging their interdependence,
which in turn would cause poor performance."2
In these ways, top management
teams have similar challenges to other
teams throughout an organization. But
TMT challenges are unique in the extreme pressures and high expectations
VOLUME 41 | ISSUE 2 | SPRING 2018

67



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2

From the Executive Editor
From the Guest Editor
Perspectives
Ignition Teams: Rising to the Challenges of Innovation
Challenge Accepted: Managing Polarities to Enhance Virtual Team Effectiveness
Facilitating Trust and Communication in Virtual Teams
Building Entrepreneurial Teams: Talent, Social Capital, and Culture
Organizations That Get Teamwork Right
Team Development: The Power of Debriefing
The Rise of Digital Team Building
Executive Roundtable
In First Person
Linking Theory + Practice
Insight into Action
Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover1
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover2
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 1
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 2
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 3
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - From the Executive Editor
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 5
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - From the Guest Editor
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 7
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Perspectives
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 9
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 10
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 11
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 12
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 13
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 14
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 15
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Ignition Teams: Rising to the Challenges of Innovation
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 17
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 18
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 19
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 20
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 21
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Challenge Accepted: Managing Polarities to Enhance Virtual Team Effectiveness
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 23
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 24
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 25
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 26
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 27
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 28
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 29
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Facilitating Trust and Communication in Virtual Teams
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 31
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 32
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 33
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 34
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 35
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Building Entrepreneurial Teams: Talent, Social Capital, and Culture
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 37
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 38
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 39
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 40
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 41
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Organizations That Get Teamwork Right
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 43
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 44
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 45
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Team Development: The Power of Debriefing
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 47
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 48
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 49
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 50
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 51
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - The Rise of Digital Team Building
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 53
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 54
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 55
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Executive Roundtable
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 57
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 58
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 59
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 60
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 61
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - In First Person
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 63
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 64
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 65
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Linking Theory + Practice
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 67
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 68
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 69
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Insight into Action
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 71
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 73
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 74
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover3
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover4
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