Management scholars have devoted much energy to understanding how the CEO and other members of the managerial upper echelon might influence a firm’s strategy. However, there is a growing recognition that extant management models overlook the critical role played by a firm’s middle management in influencing strategic change in the firm. In light of this recognition, a so-called “middle management” perspective is now beginning to emerge as a complement to the upper echelon perspective that has dominated earlier research. Drawing on both the upper echelon and middle management perspectives, recent studies have sought to take the literature forward by way of multi-level research which recognises that both the firm’s most senior executives and its middle managers matter when it comes to strategic change. Senior executives and middle managers must interact and jointly create an alignment between the organisation and its environment.

Prior scholarship has typically portrayed the executives who constitute the top management team (TMT) as change agents whose role is to give others within the organisation a sense of what the firm is seeking to achieve via its strategy. In contrast, middle managers have been viewed as sense-makers, charged with executing the plans formulated by the TMT. However, a study by Bas Koene, explored in this issue of RSM Discovery magazine, breaks new ground by acknowledging that when seeking to effect strategic change, middle managers can play a far more sophisticated role than has previously been understood.

Also in this issue, you will find practical insights about how brain imaging technology is being used to reveal customers’ advertising preferences; the challenges involved in improving humanitarian logistics; the perils of aggressive accounting; China’s multi-tiered approach to environmental practices, and how periods of reflection can enhance decision-making in the face of unethical behaviour.

I am sure you will find these articles to not only be stimulating, but also to be of practical value to your own organisational and managerial scenarios.
RSM Discovery Magazine Collection
RSM Discovery - Management Knowledge
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

Volberda, H. (2017). Introduction: It's the Middle Management, stupid!. RSM Discovery - Management Knowledge, 30(2), 4–4. Retrieved from