Management Challenges

The role of managers in implementing management changes for the 21st century

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The dynamic nature of management in the twenty-first century developed with the emergence of new technologies and innovations, which has radically changed the kind of management and leadership prevalently used at present. Literature on management changes for the 21st century emphasized on the importance of managers in the organization, centering its role as the mediator between organizational members and management. Indeed, researches and studies on the subject have found that managers play an integral role in facing the challenges and implementing the changes that occur in the midst of an information-oriented and technology-driven society.

In this paper, a discussion of extant literature concerning the important role of managers and the challenges they face at present are analyzed in the organizational management paradigm. This paper posits that extant literature on management stresses the importance of managers in acting as mediators and implementers of change in the organizational setting, particularly in ‘bridging’ the communication and social interaction between the management and the organization’s members in light of a new organizational change or innovation.

Both qualitative and quantitative studies in management have demonstrated the significance of managers in introducing and implementing changes within the organization. Perry (2004), in his quantitative and comparative study about the level of employee trust between managers of private and public sector organization verifies one of the most important theories in management, which posits that leaders and managers who are most accessible and closer in relation to employees or organization members tend to be more trusting. This is also reflected by the fact that managers who assume higher positions in the organization, thereby creating greater distance between themselves and the members or employees, have relatively lower levels of employee trust as compared to those who interact with the employees constantly. Exemplified in Perry’s study is the example of the municipal fire department’s case, wherein they have high levels of trust for their CEO despite his being a high-ranking officer. However, the reason for this high level of trust, the author explicates, is because of the constant interaction and communication of the fire department’s CEO with the department’s members, most especially the firefighters.

A similar thrust is expressed in another study, which used the qualitative paradigm to illustrate how, in the present time, middle managers have assumed the role as “change agents” apart from being mediators and implementers of innovation in the organization (Balogun, 2004). Emphasis on the role of middle managers is given in the study because they are in an especially strategic position to act as a mediator for the organization’s management and members. The middle manager’s access to both high- and low- positioned members of the organization makes him an effective medium through which communication and interaction is accomplished between the two groups. This qualitative study, which used the methods of case study, in-depth interviewing, and focus group discussions (FGDs) is particularly vital to the implementation of change in organizational structures, from being a hierarchical to being decentralized. Like Perry, the study puts the manager’s role as the most pivotal within the organization, primarily because s/he serves as the ‘catalyst’ for change and innovation in it.

Other literature also stress the role of power and control in helping the “new managers” of the 21st century to further develop their significant positions in the organization. Hill’s (2005) study of managers for the century reflects how learning is achieved through experience, backs up theoretical assumptions that management for the 21st century does not demonstrate parallelism between its theories and actual applications. This assertion is mirrored in a theoretical study by Drejer (2004) and Klagge (1998), wherein he found out that training and learning for new managers in their first year of assuming their managerial positions have been purely based on experience. This parallelism between Hill and Drejer’s studies shows that managers receive adequate learning through experience in the organization, a quality that is considered essential when they are given ‘informal’ roles as mediators or change agents within an organization.

However, there are also studies that propose several problems that hinder the “new manager” of the 21st century from fully realizing his/her role as potential change agents for the organization. Kerr’s (2004) and Callanan’s (2004) studies emphasized on this point, wherein managers often face hindrance in the form of the organization’s nature itself. The lack of democracy within organizations (based on the management perspective), according to the authors, discourages managers from exercising their instrumental role in introducing and implementing change. Increased competition among employees/members and the inherent independence and autonomy of business organizations make it impossible for managers to create change without encountering conflict or disagreement with other members of the organization. However, both authors still consider the manager’s crucial position as both communicator and social interactor between the management and the organization’s members are important in creating and developing change despite these inherent characteristics of business organizations.


Balogun, J. (2004). “Organizational restructuring and middle manager sensemaking.” Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 47, Issue 4.

Callanan, G. (2004). “What would Machiavelli think? An overview of the leadership challenges in team-bases structures.” Team Performance Management, Vol. 10, No. 3.

Drejer, a. (2004). “Back to basics and beyond: Strategic management — an area where theory and practice are poorly-related.” Management Decision, Vol. 42, Issue 3.

Hill, L. (2004). “ for the 21st century.” Academy of Management Executive, Vol. 18, Issue 3.

Kerr, J. (2004). “The limits of organizational democracy.” Academy of Management Executive, Vol. 18, Issue 3.

Klagge, J. (1998). “The empowerment squeeze: views from the middle management position.” Journal of Management Development, Vol. 17, Issue 8.

Perry, R. (2004). “Understanding employee trust in management.” Public Personnel Management, Vol. 33, Issue 3.