Managers are organizational members who are responsible for the work performance of
other organizational members. Managers have formal authority to use organizational
resources and to make decisions. In organizations, there are typically three levels of
management: top-level, middle-level, and first-level. These three main levels of managers
form a hierarchy, in which they are ranked in order of importance. In most organizations,
the number of managers at each level is such that the hierarchy resembles a pyramid, with
many more first-level managers, fewer middle managers, and the fewest managers at the
top level. Each of these management levels is described below in terms of their possible
job titles and their primary responsibilities and the paths taken to hold these positions.
Additionally, there are differences across the management levels as to what types of
management tasks each does and the roles that they take in their jobs. Finally, there are a
number of changes that are occurring in many organizations that are changing the
management hierarchies in them, such as the increasing use of teams, the prevalence of
outsourcing, and the flattening of organizational structures.
Top-level managers, or top managers, are also called senior management or executives.
These individuals are at the top one or two levels in an organization, and hold titles such
as: Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Operational
Officer (COO), Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chairperson of the Board, President,
Vice president, Corporate head.
Often, a set of these managers will constitute the top management team, which is
composed of the CEO, the COO, and other department heads. Top-level managers make
decisions affecting the entirety of the firm. Top managers do not direct the day-to-day
activities of the firm; rather, they set goals for the organization and direct the company to
achieve them. Top managers are ultimately responsible for the performance of the
organization, and often, these managers have very visible jobs.
Top managers in most organizations have a great deal of managerial experience and have
moved up through the ranks of management within the company or in another firm. An
exception to this is a top manager who is also an entrepreneur; such an individual may
start a small company and manage it until it grows enough to support several levels of