A Comparative Study Of The Role Behavior Of Middle-Level Managers From Two Different Organizations

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Educat.D.)


Educational Administration


Purpose. The purpose of this study was to compare the work activities of two high-performing middle-level managers from different organizations to determine how the characteristics of their managerial roles varied.Conceptual Framework. Because of the emphasis on managerial performance and the current interest in descriptive research to understand managerial behavior, the comparison in this study was made using the Managerial Role Behaviors observed and reported by Mintzberg in his book, The Nature of Managerial Work (1973).Procedures. Using a Mintzberg-type structured observation technique, a Public Education Manager and a Public Service Manager were observed over a period of five (5) days each. This technique consisted of recording all work activities while the manager engaged in them. In addition, all written communications the manager received or issued during the observation were recorded. Afterwards, these events were coded, analyzed for purpose, and assigned to an appropriate role classification. Both managers also completed a perceptual instrument assessing time spent in each of Mintzberg's roles. Perceived responses were compared with observed time spent in these roles.Findings. (1) Significant differences were found in the overall frequency of activities spent in Mintzberg's roles. Specifically, the Public Education Manager performed more frequently in the Mintzberg-defined roles of Disseminator, Disturbance Handler and Resource Allocator while the Public Service Manager demonstrated greater frequency of activity in the Negotiator and Entrepreneur roles. (2) No significant differences were found in the overall percentage of time a Public Service Manager and a Public Education Manager spent in each of Mintzberg's roles. (3) Managers' perceptions of time spent in each of Mintzberg's roles were not related to observed managerial activity.Conclusions. The results of this study are based upon the observed work activities of two middle-level managers over 80 hours, yielding 1,760 events. The following conclusions support the work of Mintzberg (1973) and are in agreement with the current literature and the findings of a larger observational study on public education managers conducted by Martinko and Gardner (in press). (1) The nature of the organization has an effect upon the frequency and duration of activities performed by middle-level managers in public service and public education organizations. (2) A public service and public education middle-level manager's perception of the time spent in Mintzberg's roles are poor assessments of actual managerial behavior.


Education, Administration

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