Managing up and down: community corrections middle managers’ role conflict and ambiguity during organizational change

ArticleinJournal of Crime and Justice · September 2015with 102 Reads
Abstract
Community corrections agencies in the United States must respond to and refine organizational practices depending on both internal (i.e. staff, resources, etc.) and external factors (i.e. political change, legislative action or union influence). Most prior studies emphasize the experiences of either upper management or line staff, but few studies focus on middle managers, who play a ‘strategic role’ in organizational reform. The current study explores the way(s) middle managers address policy implementation that often require reconcilement of conflict and ambiguity that often occur in translating policy to practice. The study uses ethnographic observations of and focus groups with 75 middle managers in a community corrections agency undergoing specialized training. Findings suggest middle managers resolve dissonance, and manage up, laterally and down, by employing three cognitive scripts: resignation, refocusing, and reinforcement. Each script presents distinct implications for organizational change processes and daily operations. Organizational reform creates deficits in middle managers’ role definition and more global impacts on their perception of organizational legitimacy within the agency’s goal framework. This work yields suggestions for future research and implications for mid-level managerial policy in corrections agencies.

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    The strategic importance of managing organizational culture has been a central theme in organizational literature over the past two decades. But relatively little attention has been given to the impact of culture change initiatives on managers. This paper reports on the impact of a programme of culture change on managers at one of Britain's leading grocery retail chains. Based on a series of detailed interviews with managers together with examination of company documents and an understanding of trends in grocery retailing, we explain the purpose and content of change, and document and analyse the reactions of those managers who are expected to change their own cultural orientations as well as persuade their subordinates to change. We conclude that in this case at least changes in managerial behaviour, as with previously documented changes in the behaviour of shopfloor workers, are related more to surveillance, direct control and the threat of sanction than any transformation of managerial values. Indeed, the situation and experiences of managers - one of reduced autonomy, close monitoring and control, and perceived career insecurity - are explained less in relation to `organizational culture', more in relation to organizational (re-)structuring intended to create a more centralized form of organizational control.
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    The presence of role stress/strain among nurses has been of concern throughout the world. However, to date, no one has conducted, from an international perspective, a literature review of research on the topic. This article assesses research from 17 countries, identifies the major areas of focus in the studies, compares and contrasts the findings, summarizes the state of the science on role stress/strain on nurses and makes recommendations for future research.
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    Leadership in organizations is important in shaping workers' perceptions, responses to organizational change, and acceptance of innovations, such as evidence-based practices. Transformational leadership inspires and motivates followers, whereas transactional leadership is based more on reinforcement and exchanges. Studies have shown that in youth and family service organizations, mental health providers' attitudes toward adopting an evidence-based practice are associated with organizational context and individual provider differences. The purpose of this study was to expand these findings by examining the association between leadership and mental health providers' attitudes toward adopting evidence-based practice. Participants were 303 public-sector mental health service clinicians and case managers from 49 programs who were providing mental health services to children, adolescents, and their families. Data were gathered on providers' characteristics, attitudes toward evidence-based practices, and perceptions of their supervisors' leadership behaviors. Zero-order correlations and multilevel regression analyses were conducted that controlled for effects of service providers' characteristics. Both transformational and transactional leadership were positively associated with providers' having more positive attitudes toward adoption of evidence-based practice, and transformational leadership was negatively associated with providers' perception of difference between the providers' current practice and evidence-based practice. Mental health service organizations may benefit from improving transformational and transactional supervisory leadership skills in preparation for implementing evidence-based practices.
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    Based on an analysis of 262 interviews, I argue that role expectations have the potential to both enable and constrain middle manager strategic agency. To explain why the same role expectations have contradictory effects on agency, I analyse enabling conditions corresponding to four strategic role expectations, based on Floyd and Wooldridge's work on middle manager roles. After presenting eight enabling conditions for strategic agency, specific to the four role expectations, I argue that the dominant functionalist view of strategic roles should be augmented from a middle manager viewpoint. I suggest a reciprocal view of strategic role expectations, which elucidates the tensions between dialogue, legitimacy and rationality within a set of strategic roles. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2007.
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    This study evaluates the relatively low levels of stress discovered, the presence of stressors, and degree of participation in stress reduction activities among correctional officers working in a relatively rural area of Ontario, Canada. Canadian correctional officers working in three facilities in the northern district of Ontario were found to report relatively low levels of stress. The levels of stress reported appear to be lower than levels of stress reported in most studies of stress and were substantially lower than those reported in three studies of police departments and teachers in the United States that used comparable instruments. Various models for explaining these low levels are discussed.
  • Between prison and a hard place: public confidence in community supervision and the future of the prison crisis
    • J Simon
    Simon, J. (1998). Between prison and a hard place: public confidence in community supervision and the future of the prison crisis. Corrections Management Quarterly, 2, 1-11.
  • Sensemaking in organizations (Foundations for organizational science) Thousand Oaks
    • K E Weick
    Weick, K. E. (1995). Sensemaking in organizations (Foundations for organizational science). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications Inc.