Sandwiched: Exploring role and identity of middle managers in the genuine middle
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionHuman Relations. 2020, 73(1), 124–151. 10.1177/0018726718823243
This article explores middle managers in the professions from their position in the sandwiched middle. Based upon interviews with senior academics in management roles and their subordinates in UK business schools, we investigate this experienced middle through a metaphor that informs one particular subject position: to be an umbrella carrier. This position entails protecting subordinates from what is seen as unnecessary and/or damaging initiatives and information from top management above, in order to allow for good professional work to take place below. This form of countermanagement, which aims to weaken hierarchical pressure rather than enforce or uphold it, is informed by a stronger identification with the profession and subordinates below than with the leader role or the superiors above, and aids the middle managers in their identity work.