Date of Award

Fall 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Business Administration-Strategic Management

Committee Director

William O. Judge

Committee Member

Lance Frazier

Committee Member

Jose Luis Rivas


Several scholars have suggested mid-level management is an important factor that explains strategic outcomes (Wooldridge, Schmidt, & Floyd, 2008), but little research has investigated how this relationship actually works in multiple institutional environments. The resource-based view of the firm argues that competitive advantage is a function of resource heterogeneity and immobility (Barney, 1991) and the discretionary decisions made by managers about resource creation, development, and allocation (Amit & Shoemaker, 1993). These boundedly-rational managers (Simon, 1957) make these decisions facing an uncertain and complex internal and external environment. Thus, this dissertation extends the current research by developing and testing a new comprehensive model of middle management innovative behavior and organizational innovation that contemporaneously incorporates the isomorphic pressures of the institutional environment; and subsequent impact on organizational performance. The extant literature on middle managers is reviewed and research gaps in the literature are identified. The resource-based view and institutional theory are used to develop nine hypotheses, which are empirically tested.

Findings show that middle manager innovation behavior positively impacts organizational innovativeness. This study also shows a positive relationship between organizational innovativeness and organizational performance. The findings also breaks new ground by finding that organizational context, in terms of participatory decision-making and organizational trust, is an important moderating factor that influences middle management's role in organizational innovation. This study also considers how the external environment influences innovation outcomes, and introduces the importance of subnational regions on organizational middle manager innovation behavior and organizational innovation. Results show that urbanized settings moderate the middle manager innovative behavior and organizational innovation relationship. However, the national context does not appear to systematically influence middle managers impact on organizational innovation. For practitioners, this study identifies specific mid-level managerial behavior that contributes to organizational innovation and the firm-, regional-, and national level variables that impact the mid-manager-organizational innovation relationship.


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