and were conducted by telephone. As employees risked being identified through their telephone numbers and employee numbers, some caution should be exercised in interpreting these results. Given the climate of fear, downsizing, and mistrust, I speculate that the survey results may be biased in favor of the executive team.
Middle manager group-focus emotions and strategy implementation 26 this initiative undermined its implementation success right from the beginning. Many middle managers treated the proposed change in the quality of relationships as just another empty piece of corporate rhetoric. The attempt to change the firm’s culture petered out, leaving the CEO to ponder, ‘One of the great challenges is how to keep the troops motivated.’This case also shows how strategy implementation can derail without the top team being aware of it. CEO Foster was undoubtedly sincere in his drive to create a warm relationship culture, but his implementation actions were perceived by middle managers as displaying disrespect for their emotion-laden social identities. The perceived gap between the CEO’s rhetoric (his intention) and his actions (implementation process) generated much negative group-focus emotion and mistrust that ultimately led to the failure of this cultural initiative, displaying patterns in middle managers’ group-focus emotions and covert opposition similar to those that occurred with the failed implementation of the three corporate structures. The cases above show the critical contribution of middle managers to strategy implementation. Implementing a new corporate strategy requires middle managers’ enthusiastic endorsement, which energizes them to go beyond the call of duty to resolve unforeseen problems that surface during implementation (Simonin, 1997). Because they have control over important organizational resources, including the many people reporting to them, middle managers’ indifference, apathy, passive resistance, or even mechanical compliance may be sufficient to undermine the requisite collective energy for improvisation, creativity, above-normal efforts, and persistence, all of which contribute to the success of ambitious changes in an organization (Huy, 2002). Aggregate business underperformance can be caused by a small number of work units (led by reluctant middle managers) affecting interdependent units (Thompson, 1967). Top Executives’ Task-Focused Behaviors in Top-Down Strategy Implementation
Middle manager group-focus emotions and strategy implementation 27 Analysis of the senior executives’ interviews throughout all three years of corporate transformation suggests a dominant action focus on task matters that crowded out their concerns about social-emotional issues. This does not imply that senior executives did not consider social-emotional matters as they planned strategy implementation. Senior executives did talk about the importance of generating pride among employees, creating warm intensity, and building cohesion and sharing of knowledge among the senior executives. Unfortunately, they did not