The Influence of Middle Managers’ Personality and Cultural Traits during Organizational Change

Brahm, F and Tang, S (2023) The Influence of Middle Managers’ Personality and Cultural Traits during Organizational Change. Academy of Management Proceedings, 2023 (1). ISSN 2151-6561


Extant research has studied middle managers as a homogeneous group and focused on how external factors shape their influence on strategic change. We complement this work by highlighting the heterogeneity among middle managers and the internal locus of causation of their impact. We examine how two important sets of traits—personality traits and cultural traits—of middle managers matter in a context of organizational change. We exploit the reorganization of the salesforce of a large Chilean beverage company, where two decentralized, divisional salesforces with differing cultures—one “entrepreneurial” emphasizing autonomy and risk taking, the other “conservative” emphasizing tradition and control—were centralized into a single functional salesforce. This reorganization meant that new salespersons’ teams were formed and thus, sales managers had new teams to supervise. The organizational change was challenging and relied importantly on middle managers for success. We show that i) the “openness to experience” of sales managers generates a positive impact on the salespersons’ performance during the reorganization but only if accompanied by a “conscientiousness” personality-trait, ii) a sales manager that carries a “conservative” cultural trait into the new team—adopted in the “conservative” division before to the change—enhances the performance of salespersons but only if the newly formed team comes mostly from the “entrepreneurial” division, and iii) while the impact of personality traits remains constant over time, the impact of the manager’s carried cultural trait fades away within a year.

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Item Type: Article
Subject Areas: Strategy and Entrepreneurship
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© 2023 Academy of Management

Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2024 17:32
Subjects: Change
Middle managers
Personality (Psychology)
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2024 17:32

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