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Beemsterboer, S and Koch, C (2017) A Human Touch: Examining The Roles Of Middle Managers For Innovation In Contractors . In: Chan, P W and Neilson, C J (Eds.), Proceedings 33rd Annual ARCOM Conference, 4-6 September 2017, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, UK. Association of Researchers in Construction Management, 430–439.

  • Type: Conference Proceedings
  • Keywords: contractors, expertise, innovation, middle manager, role
  • ISBN/ISSN: 978-0-9955463-1-8
  • URL: http://www.arcom.ac.uk/-docs/proceedings/6aabab956a289e7edecb673a555c07df.pdf
  • Abstract:

    Operational innovation is understood as renewal and improvement of ways to carry out the production of buildings and other built structures are becoming increasingly important for contractors. Many studies in construction management focus on contributions in process innovation in projects and a few on the enterprise "above". Furthermore, there is a tendency to disregard the expertise of the in between group of midlevel managers. If addressed, middle manager expertise is too often expressed narrowly in relation to a somewhat mechanic implementation of top management strategies. We believe such interpretation does injustice to the importance of middle managers regarding innovation. In this paper, we address the position of middle managers in contractors and their impact on operation strategizing and operational innovation. Specific attention is payed to the roles that middle managers occupy that function as alternatives to the dominant narrative of implementer of change. A literature review has been conducted to conceptualise the position of the middle manager and the role of the middle manager regarding change in the contractor. A case study of a Swedish contractor was performed to address how different roles are operationalised by middle managers in their work practices. 10 semi-structured interviews were conducted with individual middle managers. A vision seminar was organised to enable the middle managers to discuss together their perceptions on innovation in construction. Middle managers perceive the systematisation of working practices, employee development, and health, safety and sustainability measures to be the most important innovations in their environment. Four different roles of the middle manager have been examined: implementer of change, networker, sense maker and enabler. On this background we discuss how middle managers may advance these roles to contribute to innovation in the contractor.