The Mid Level Public Managers

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Literature Review and Theoretical Foundation

A study of the mid level public managers’ leadership role and leadership orientations in implementation of planned organizational change in the Pakistani public sector requires a review of the literature in six areas: planned organizational change and innovation, major public sector implementation studies, link between leadership and implementation of change, public sector leadership works, studies relevant to middle managers, major leadership schools and Bolman and Deal model. To gain a deeper understanding of the implementation process, it will be useful to consider it in relation to the relevant literature on organizational change and innovation. There is an enormous body of literature on this topic but relevant themes and selected works on change and innovation diffusion will be explored with a particular emphasis on the process of implementation. A brief review of major public sector implementation studies is essential to recognize the complexities involved with the implementation of public sector changes. An examination of this body of literature -planned change and innovation and policy implementation- will provide the context that supports a need for multiframe leadership of midlevel public managers.

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It is important to examine the literature that provides linkage between leadership and implementation of change, and identification of major public sector leadership studies is of equal significance to gauge their potency or otherwise for application. To understand the expectations and responsibilities associated with midlevel public managers, with particular reference to organizational change, review of works specific to middle managers is vital.

Finally, it is necessary to explore the literature on managerial leadership. The body of literature on this topic is voluminous and a full review is neither relevant nor possible. However, to fully grasp the challenges inherent to midlevel public managers’ leadership and the power and relevance of Bolman and Deal Model, it is crucial to review the major schools of leadership and the literature that supports the Bolman and Deal Model. This review will provide a valuable link to the need for cognitively complex leadership of middle managers of public organizations and effective implementation of planned change interventions.

Planned Organizational Change

One of the most important and pervasive organizational concepts that has emerged in the 20th century is that of planned, controlled and directed change. It is believed that organizations can consciously and successfully direct forces of change to suit predetermined goals and values (Owens, 1991). Bennis, Benne, and Chin (1985) define planned change as a conscious, deliberate, and collaborative effort to improve the operation of human system, whether it is a self system, social system or cultural system, through the utilization of valid knowledge. Innovation is a facet of planned change that does not simply seek alteration to the existing systems and values, but is concerned with a deliberate introduction of something new (Larson, 1992). The contemporary approaches to organizational change and innovation focus efforts at developing strategies and tactics that make it possible to plan manage and control the change process (Owens, 1991). Planned change suggests improvement within an organization, whether in its structure, outcomes, performance or climate.

Many of the strategies that are intended to facilitate planned change implementation in the public sector are grounded in innovation and organizational change theory and research. Therefore, to develop a deeper understanding of adoption and implementation process, it is sane to review the existing literature on planned organizational change and innovation. A full review of the extensive body of literature is not possible within the limited scope of this study, but a brief exploration of the theoretical base and of several key models of the change process will be helpful. This section will briefly analyze literature on planned change and innovation, the individual user and the organization, in addition to considering several key models of organizational change, with a particular emphasis on the process of implementing planned change.

A large segment of literature on organizational change and innovation focuses on defining as well as identifying the characteristics of the change and innovation to be implemented. This approach assumes that innovations have properties or attributes that affect their rate of adoption. Understanding the attributes of innovation itself will augur the fate of a particular change (Meyer and Goes, 1988). Rogers(1995) identifies five attributes of innovations including: 1) relative advantage or degree to which an innovation is perceived as being better than the idea it supersedes; 2) compatibility or degree to which an innovation is perceived as consistent with existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters; 3) complexity or the degree to which an innovation is perceived as relatively difficult to understand and use; 4) triability or the degree to which an innovation may be experimented within a limited basis; and 5) observability or the degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to others.

Zaltman and Ducan (1977) argue that like personal understandings of an innovation, perceptions of an innovation’s attributes are also individually constructed and, therefore, variable. This is an important point that the way an individual perceives an innovation’s characteristics is also predictive of the individual’s decision to adopt that innovation (Rogers, 1995). Dearing and Meyer (1994) contend that diffusion is related to an innovation’s attributes, as perceived by both the innovator and the potential adopters. They argue that the way the change manager frames communication influences potential adopters’ perceptions.

Perceptions of innovations are also influenced by contextual factors. Since innovations are never independent of their environmental context, they must be adapted to the receiving environment or they will be rejected (Ormord, 1992). Rogers (1995) asserts that despite the importance of innovation itself, diffusion can not be predicted by focusing solely on that variable. The author suggests that innovations must be considered in relation to the individual as well as within the context of the larger organization

Individuals adopt innovations at different rates over time. Rogers (1995) conceptualized five adopter categories to explain the pattern of individual adoption of a particular change or innovation. The categories and different characteristics are: innovators- venturesome; early adopters- respectful; early majority- deliberate; late majority -skeptical; and laggards-traditional (pp 263-266). The introduction of this framework was important because it facilitated comparative analysis within innovation research. This type of analysis has been particularly useful in identifying the barriers to individual adoption of planned organizational changes and innovations.

Diffusion of innovation is also influenced by a multitude of factors, including the interaction between individual and the organization (D.W. Farmer, 1990). Davis et al (1982) argue that innovation adoption is influenced by the interaction of the individual and the organization. Clearly, social systems, and thus organizations, are among the multiplicity of factors that influence innovation adoption and implementation. The organizational change literature portrays a close link of organizational structure, organizational culture, and organizational politics with the adoption and implementation of change. The following discussion will analyze the link between the three organizational variables and change implementation.


The role of organizational structure is a consistent theme in the innovation and change literature. From a prescriptive stance, structural change is considered as a facilitator of innovation diffusion. Galbraith (1982) contends that innovation requires an organization specifically designed for that purpose… structure, processes, rewards and people must be combined in special way to create an innovating organization”(p.5). Organizational structure is influenced by environmental conditions (Lawrence & Losrch, 1967). In stable and predictable environments, mechanistic structures are most effective. In contrast, organic structures facilitate change and diffusion of innovations.

Although there is an accepted relationship between organizational structure and change, however, it is neither fixed nor absolute. Zaltman and Ducan (1977) argue that structure must also be adjusted and matched appropriately to the phase of change process. During initiation of change, higher degrees of complexity and lower degrees of formalization and centralization are required. But, during the actual implementation of change, the system should shift its structure to one marked by lower complexity and higher formalization and centralization. Others argue that innovation also occurs within organization in both a technical and administrative (change in organization’s climate, communication, interdepartmental relations, personnel policies etc) sense. Therefore, structural adjustments must also match the area to which change is intended.

Clearly, innovation and organizational structure are interrelated. Implementation is dependent on a variety of structural shifts or adjustments that are linked to the environment, the stage of the change process, and the area of the organization. Change does not result from a single decisive act, but through the interplay of a multiplicity of factors involving the innovation, the organization and the environment, as well as the individual users.


Innovation is also influenced by organizational culture and there has been an increasing emphasis on this less tangible facet of the change process. The literature approaches culture from two perspectives: structural and interpretative. Handy (1995) proposed a structural typology and identified four types of culture: role, power, person and task. Role culture emphasizes hierarchy and adherence to clearly defined role. Power culture centralizes authority in a single powerful figure and limits individual autonomy. Person cultures stress individual autonomy and interpersonal relationships. While task cultures are based on a matrix configuration and place high value on individuals and teams and emphasize lateral communication. Innovations in role culture are difficult because of inherent rigidity, difficult but possible in power cultures if organization is small and members share the central figure’s vision. Person cultures favor change and innovation but sometimes such cultures become a hindrance because of difficulty in creating consensus among individuals; task culture is considered to be conducive for innovativeness.

From interpretative perspective, culture is discussed in terms of symbols, rituals and myths, with an emphasis on the meaning of innovations. This perspective assigns symbolic elements a key role in the change process. From an interpretative cultural viewpoint, the implementation of change must be linked to understanding and transforming subjective realities on multiple dimensions (Berg, 1985)

From either perspective, organizational culture plays an important role in the diffusion of innovations. Mirvis, Sales and Hacket (1991) argue that effective change processes must be congruent with the underlying culture or culture of the receiving system.


Political realities are inherent to any change process (Baldridge, 1983b). Frost and Egri (1991) explain that change process is always political because “innovations at their core are about ambiguity and replete with disputes caused by the differences in perspectives among those touched by an innovation and changes it engenders” (p.231). However, this political component cannot be viewed simply as negative aspect. Schon (1967) argues that conflict associated with change is constructive. Fullan (1991) distinguishes between positive and negative politics and argues that more attention should be paid to using power positively.

However, it is difficult to change the existing power structure; leaders must also recognize and work within the existing political dynamics (Greiner, 1986). Political skills like mediation, negotiation and jockeying between power blocks is important for change managers. Clearly, power and politics are an important part of any change process; change leadership should be adept at coping with it.

Change Models

Organizational change literature includes rich descriptions and discussion regarding effective change models. Two types of models i.e. process models and strategy models will be discussed in this section. Process models describe the processes of change and strategy models focus on strategies for facilitating and implementing change.

Process Models

Process models are usually normative and often modifications of framework first proposed by Rogers (1995). Most include a series of stages that must be worked through sequentially in order to implement innovation and change. Rogers (1995) described the innovation diffusion process as one that involves two broad initiatives: initiation and implementation. Initiation includes two stages: agenda setting and matching. Agenda setting stage pertains to identifying and prioritizing problems, as well as searching for solutions to solve these problems. In the second stage, matching, the organization determines whether the selected innovation will effectively solve the problem. The process of implementation begins after the decision to adopt the innovation. The implementation process includes three stages: redefining or restructuring, clarifying and routinizing. The redefining is one of mutual adaptation as the innovation is redefined to accommodate the organizations needs and organizations structure is modified to fit with the innovation. During the clarifying stage, the innovation’s meaning is socially constructed through human interaction, with the ultimate goal of creating a common understanding among organizational members. The final stage, routinization, occurs when the innovation is sufficiently accepted that it loses its separate identity and becomes fully incorporated into the organization (Rogers, 1995)

Other models follow a similar trajectory but alter the number and emphasis of the various phases of the process. Hage and Aiken (1970) compress the change process into four stages: evaluation, initiation, implementation and routinization. Schen (1992b), citing the work of Lewin, includes just three steps: unfreezing, moving and refreezing. Unfreezing focuses on the period of disequilibrium, during which, the need for change is identified and accepted. Once the organization is ready for change, moving or the actual implementation of change takes place. Lastly, refreezing establishes the innovation within the organization through reinforcement and confirmation.

Levine (1978, 1980) also proposed four stages: recognition of need, planning and formulating a solution, initiation and implementation and institutionalization or termination. The first three stages overlap models previously discussed, however his inclusion of a stage beyond implementation is unique.

Maratorana and Kuhns (1975) focusing specifically on academic change described a five stage model: exploration, formulation, trial, refinement, and institutionalization. Like many others, they also include a series of prescriptive guidelines for change leaders. However, more interestingly, they argue that change is driven and energized by the interaction of three forces: personal, extarpersonal and goal hiatus. Personal forces include decision makers, implementers and consumers. Extarpersonal forces are both tangible like facilities and equipment, and intangible, like policies and traditions. Goal hiatus describes the discrepancy between the aspiration towards particular institutional goal and the achievement of this goal. These three forces influence each of the five stages and effect both the pace and extent of the desired change. Leaders must attend to each of these forces and modify their strategies accordingly if any change is to be successfully implemented.

Strategy Models

The literature includes numerous descriptive frameworks intended to facilitate and guide the change process. Many of these models evolved from the realization that change is a complex process that occurs on many levels. As Lipitt (1973) argues, planned change can take place in four areas: knowledge, skill, attitude and values. These multiple dimensions require different strategies if change efforts are to succeed and a number of models have been proposed.

Chin and Benne (1976) identified three types of strategies: empirical-rational, normative-reeducative, and power-coercive. Empirical-rational strategies assume that users are both rational and motivated by self interest and, therefore, change will only occur if it is rationally justified and perceived as beneficial. On the other hand, normative-reeductive strategies assume that sociocultural norms underpin individual attitudes and values. From this perspective reconstruction of values and involvement and collaboration are important. Power-coercive strategies emphasize that the use of power, whether political or otherwise, would ensure compliance with change efforts.

Havelock (1971) also categorized the earlier works into three perspectives: research development and diffusion; social interaction; and problem solver. Research development and diffusion emphasized rational processes and planning. Social interaction focused on personal relationships and considered both social and political structure important in the change process. The problem solver perspective considered the user and his/her needs paramount and argued that the need for ownership of any change was a key component.

Tichy (1982) recognized the need to combine several distinct strategies and suggested a simple but forceful metaphor for the change process. He focused primarily on the organizational level and compared his TPC theory for managing change to a rope. He argued that three organizational areas are central to the change process: technical, political and cultural systems. He cautioned that like a rope, the change process will be weakened and unravel if these strands work at cross -purposes.

Lindquist (1978) also understood the critical importance of multiple factors, and arguing that the earlier models were too abstract, proposed a combination model. He identified four roles for adaptive and effective change leaders: rational planner, collaborator, facilitator and linker. Empirical support for Lindquist (1978) model has been provided by a study of change in US schools of nursing. Coylor (1996) used the multifactor leadership questionnaire to examine the relationship between selected leader behaviors and the degree of faculty acceptance of changes. She concludes that Deans need to use different leader behaviors to lead the change to successful implementation.

The existing research on planned change and innovation highlights the crucial importance of understanding the needs of individual user as well as the dynamics of the organization. Acceptance of innovation is influenced by a multiplicity of factors, including the innovation itself, the perceptions and the needs of the individual, the prevailing political and cultural environment of the organization and the organizational structure. The convergence of these factors also creates a compelling need for a multi-frame leadership. Mid level public managers, as custodians of the implementation stage of change, have particularly important and challenging role as they are expected to provide formal leadership during the change process.

The Implementation Challenge

This has long been recognized that implementation is a distinct phase of planned change process and is key to the successful change. In essence, if there is no implementation, then there is no change. Regardless of the quality of the innovatory idea or practice, or the best intentions of the adopters, or resounding rhetoric, the fact can not be disguised that if the planned change has not been implemented, then that particular change has failed no matter what other outcomes have been generated.

According to Greenwood et al (1975) implementation is the stage when the project confronts the reality of its institutional setting, and project plans are translated into practice. Elsewhere it has been defined as, ‘what an innovation consists of in practice’ (Fullan & Pomfret, 1977, p.336). Mazmanian and Sabatier (1989, p.4) define implementation as “those set of events and activities that occur after the issuing of authoritative public policy directives, which include both the effort to administer and the substantive impacts on people and events”.

Major Implementation Models

In public sector literature planned organizational change has been interchangeably and synonymously used with reform. Christensen et al (2007), Haque (2004) and Khan (1980) describe formal, planned, and deliberate change in various dimensions of the administrative system of a country to transform the existing and established practices, behaviors and structures as public sector reforms. Therefore, implementation of change interventions in public sector organizations is embedded in the policy implementation theory and research. To develop a close acquaintance with the implementation of public sector change, it is necessary to map the thematic contours of the major policy implementation models. The following section briefly introduces the major policy implementation frameworks with an objective to lay foundation for further debate to assert that implementation is not a mechanical ation to put centrally defined details into practice, rather it is a process which is too complex and dynamic.

Rational Framework

Early implementation research focused on a rational framework that posited that goals can be set at central location and through various controls, these goals can be achieved (Scott, 1992). Rational frameworks also focus on the structures of organizational settings and their role in purposeful activity centered on goal achievement. This framework, which has led to the top-down school of thought focuses on management/policy makers as central actors and factors these central actors control that can affect fidelity to the goals. (Pressman and Wildavsky, 1973; Van Meter and Van Horn, 1976)

As a linear approach based on achieving certain goals, rational approach fails to take into account the political nature of policies/changes. It, instead, focuses on implementation as a mere administrative practice guided by clear objectives and direction. Fox (1990) argues that by only focusing on rational view of implementation, we fail to address the false dichotomy of the objective versus subjective in implementation.

Conflict and Exchange Framework

This perspective commonly known as a bottom-up perspective used an exchange or conflict theory to explain how implementers mutually adapt policy to fit their needs (McLaughlin, 1987). This framework, in contrast to rational models, argued that a more comprehensive view of implementation can take place by looking through the perspective of local site, target population, or service deliverers and the conflicts and the exchanges that occur. Hjern and Hull (1982), Elmore (1978), Hall and Loucks (1978) and McLaughlin (1974) all developed models that suggested bottom-up understanding of implementation.

This framework has been criticized for placing large extent of policy/change meaning in the local actors and neglecting the role of management/policy makers. Matland (1995) argues that this approach overemphasizes local factors while resources and access to an implementation arena may be determined centrally and can substantially affect policy/program outcome.

Hybrid Frameworks

These synthesis models attempt to explain the implementation process by looking at rational framework and exchange or conflict model for implementation. These models of implementation take kernels of truth from both top-down and bottom-up perspectives. They look for a variety of responses and strategies depending upon either the policy (Matland, 1995), the policy arena (Miller, 1990), coalitions involved (Sabatier, 1989) or conditions under which one model can be appropriate (Berman, 1980).

Social Construction of Meaning Framework

Social construction of meaning as a conceptual framework analyzes the constructed nature of social meaning and reality. This frame, in contrast to a more rational view, assumes that meaning is always changed but always based on interpretations according to local contexts. Fullan (1992) suggests that implementation of change by simply putting into ideas, practices or activities into place have a very little impact. For true improvement to occur, the author suggests that change and implementation requires understanding meaning beyond surface details. Goertz, Floden, and O’Day (1995) see the construction of meaning as the greatest challenge for newer systemic forms of policy. This framework argues that the success of a policy/program will depend on management of meaning and reconstructing beliefs.

A cursory look at the major implementation models leads to infer that implementation of change is a complex and multidimensional process. Brose and Crosby (1992) contend that new policies, plans, programs or projects do not implement automatically, or necessarily as their authors wanted. Instead, implementation, or the operationalization of change, typically is a complex and messy process involving many actors ad organizations that have a host of complementary, competing ad often contradictory goals and interests. Bardach (1977) argues that the implementation process is a strategic interaction among numerous special interests, all pursuing their own goals which might or might not be compatible with the goals of the policy mandate. Numerous special interests have their own agendas, and they are interested in how and whether a new policy mandate might have to fit in. Simply stated, implementation of policy/program is a system of pressures and counter pressures (Bardach, 1977).

Pressman and Wildavsky (1973) argue that implementation, under the best of circumstances is exceedingly difficult. Implementation of public policies and programs are increasingly difficult if interactive factors such as organizational capability, allocation of resources, training, communication, motivation, attitude and bureaucratic structure are not in place (Karasoff and Aalwell, 1992). There are many complicated factors involved in implementation processes (Lundu and Mbewe, 1993), including politics and resources. Policy implementation being not an automatic process demands strong impetus and coordinated efforts (Brooks, 1998).

Fullan (1991) referring to a school change contends that implementing change is a multivariate business involving various levels of difficulty. It is multidimensional in the sense that putting an innovation into practice may require many changes in various aspects, such as material, pedegological approaches, and beliefs and values if an innovation’s desired effects are to be achieved (Fullan, 1982). Oakes (1994) claims that planned changes occur in various dimensions and if intended reforms are to be successfully implemented, equal considerations must be given to structural, normative and political variables.

Clearly, implementation of change is a complex and challenging process that requires a diverse array of leadership skills. Penrod(1993) and Shield et al (1992) recognize the imporatnce of cognitively complex leadership for implementation of technology in higher education. Public managers for succesful implementation must understand the culture of the organization . Since, change often leads to modification and reallignment of cultural systems, they need to make certain that changes are consistent with organizational goals and value systems. The managers should frame the implementation of change as a paradigm shift. Change managers need to understand the technical and human dimensions of change. For them political skills are also important. Coordinatong the needs of diverse constituencies and buliding partnership among groups is of crucial importance .

Leadership and Implementation of Change

The role of leadership in planned change carries with it a great deal of responsibility. In the literature related to organizational change, leadership prominently features as an important catalyst to change. Most leadership theorists agree the role of leaders in advancing organizational change in any setting can be crucial to the ultimate success of that change (Fullan, 2001; Kotter and Kohen, 2002). The effectiveness of a planned change effort is dependent upon leadership’s role in extending awareness and knowledge of the planned change to the organization (Benne and Birbaum, 1969). Scott (2004), in his discussion of a framework for effective change, stated that “Change management is essentially about the art of managing paradox” (p. 11). He also acknowledged that “Change does not just happen, it must be led” (p. 9). Rowley and Sherman (2001) echoed Scott’s (2004) position: “Leadership is the key to effective change management”. Perry (2003) studied institutional change at The College of New Jersey from 1975-1996. She determined that the three most critical factors for change implementation were a supportive culture, a clear vision, and determined leadership.

Resnick (1993) identifies five conditions for change, and leadership is one factor which he considers necessary for successful change. Nadler (1993) describes three major areas that have been identified as being critical to effectively managing organizational changes. According to Nadler, managing the transitions is one major area for successful change. Out of the 12 action areas, he identifies leadership support of the change as a critical area for effective implementation of change. The same author further stresses that managers of the organizations must devote time, effort and attention needed for successful change. Dunphy and Stace (1993) indicate that there are two critical dimensions of organizational change. The first is the degree or scale of change and the second is the style of leadership required to implement that change.

Management literature indicates that many organizations do not adapt effectively to change in their environments while this strategic mal-adaptation can occur for a variety of reasons. Theorists tend to focus on organizational inertia as an underlying phenomenon. Much of the literature also focuses on overcoming employee resistance to change. (Kimberly and Quinn, 1984). Evidence also exists that leaders themselves are not uniformly open minded about change. (Hambrick et al 1993).

A variety of roles have been prescribed for the change managers. Essentially, change mangers function as link between the innovation source and the target audience. Havelock and Havelock (1973) cite four primary roles: catalyst, solution giver, process helper and resource linker. They argue that these roles are mutually exclusive and that change managers need strong interpersonal and communication skills as well as leadership ability in order to work effectively. Rogers (1995) provides an expanded list of responsibilities, including developing a need for change. ; establishing an information-exchange relationship; diagnosis problems; creating an intent to change in the client; translating intent into action; stabilizing adoption and preventing discontinuance; and achieving a terminal relationship(pp.336-337).

Myrtle (1983) and Rainey (1990) consider leadership commitment to the implementation of policy/program to be a critical issue in determining implementation outcome. Acknowledgement of the need for change and commitment to effecting change will promote the implementation process (Brege and Brandes, 1996). Top level management must not only convey the vision of change being incorporated into the overall picture but also must actively participate in the implementation activities (Roberts, 1996). Gross, Giacquinta, and Bernstein (1971) found that management often passed on the task of implementation to employees. They also found administrators’ action and commitment to the new program was critical to the success of the program.

Bryson (1995) acknowledged three important aspects of change leadership. The first was the role of leader as sponsor. Secondly, leadership must provide a champion who will focus on the process of implementation and, the third leadership role is that of facilitator. Goodstein et al. (1992) discussed multiple leadership responsibilities. He suggested that leaders must be responsible for developing a vision for the future, setting the goals to achieve that vision, removing obstacles for success, and developing the process for measuring success. Drucker (2000) believes that leaders who are successful change managers bring passion, conviction and confidence in others to the change process. Researchers like Kante (2000), Fullan (2001), and Kotter (1995) have identified extensive lists of strategies or techniques that leaders can use to help individuals within an organization to embrace change and move the process forward. These strategies are environmental awareness, empowerment of teams, recognition, rewards and celebration, identification of key supporters and inspirational communication.

Overall, there is a general consensus in the literature that leadership in some form is essential to successful change implementation. Successful change agents, whether they come from within the organization or not, must understand the organization and its culture, resources and politics (D.W. Farmer, 1990). They must be proactive in identifying salient issues, including problems and the procedures or mechanisms needed to resolve them (Herriot and Gross, 1979). Ultimately, as Lindquist (1978) argues, change leaders must be able to integrate rational, social, political and human problem solving strategies. This point is important here because, in many ways, midlevel public managers act as change agents during the process of implementing planned change and their advocacy and support are critical to successful outcomes.

In sum, the role of managerial leaders in implementing change might best be seen as one that involves calling into question an obsolete interpretive scheme, framing a new interpretive scheme in understandable terms and providing guidance for action and exerting influence for the desired change.

Public Sector Leadership

The literature on leadership with a public sector focus is a fraction of that in the private sector. In first half of the twentieth century, no distinctive perspective in the public sector leadership emerged. In the 1950s, a series of good leadership studies in the administrative realm were produced, most notably by Selzenick (1957) and Bernstein (1958). In the 1960s, Corson wrote his second book on administrative leaders and Graubard and Holton edited series of essays on political and administrative leadership (1962). The 1970s produced administrative role in iron triangle politics (Helco, 1977) and several good works of military and quasi-military leadership (Winter, 1979).

With the introduction of the power and influence literatures in1980s, the resurgence of vehement interest in leadership was evidenced in the administrative leadership literature. The administrative leader as entrepreneur was introduced by Eugene Lewis (1980) and expanded upon by Doig and Hagrove (1987). Kaufman provided a definitive executive study (1981); Cleveland (1985) and Gardner (1989) provided well rounded essays embedded in the Selzenick’s tradition. However, the primary focus of the more specialized studies continued to be on the military leadership (Van Fleet and Yukl, 1986). The works came to the fore in 1990s on public sector leadership concentrated on local and national policy makers and civic leaders (Chrislip and Larson 1994). Some emphasized specific elements of leadership such as planning, problem focus and public service values (Bryson and Crosby, 1992),

The mainstream leadership research and theory was dragged into more integrative models in the 1980s by the new economy which was triggered by the economic shocks of 1970s. Substantially, higher levels of productivity and customer focus necessitated an integrative model or set of models as a replacement of the transactional approaches. Some of the promising works in the public sector leadership including that of Doig and Hagrove (1990), Riccucci (1995) and Svara (1994) were in fact based on theoretical frameworks that resemble integrative framework of leadership. Doig and Hagrove (1990) determined that a leader’s skills and abilities had to match the task at hand and had to be complemented by favorable conditions. According to Riccucci (1995), political, managerial, and leadership skills and experience, technical expertise, managerial style, and personality all help to make leaders more effective. However leaders were most effective when they also receive strong political support and ample resources, and task assigned match their skills and abilities. Svara (1994) came up with a leadership framework, which linked a leader’s effectiveness to personal characteristics and skills, resources, congruence of goals, a homogenous community, and favorable political environment.

These three studies, being the first attempts by public management scholars to put together elements of different leadership theories and approaches in a single theoretical framework, gave a new facet to the understanding of public sector leadership. But, according to Fernandez (2005), several methodological and conceptual limitations may have weakened the validity of these studies. While the three frameworks appear to be well specified, they are not modeled explicitly, and the casual paths between some variables are not entirely clear. The studies also seem to suffer from the too many variables/too few cases dilemma making it difficult to assess the causal impact of independent variables on leadership effectiveness. Nearly all of the cases examined in these studies are examples of effective leaders. As a result, there is very little variation in the dependent variable in the three analyses (Fernandez, 2005).

Role of Middle Managers

Management literature has increasingly focused on the actions and importance of top management (Bass, 1990). Even studies of interpretation in the change process have focused on executive management interpreting change for the entire organization (Gioia and Chittipeddi, 1991). Traditional frameworks of organization describe middle managers as implementers of designed initiatives and enforcers of organizational rules and reward systems. In such roles, middle managers are often viewed as obstacles to change. In practice, organizations have sought to improve performance by reducing the number of employees particularly mid level managers (Hamel, 2000).

However, a growing body of research suggests that middle mangers may play key roles in corporate change processes (Kanter, 1982). Broadly, this research suggests that middle mangers are instrumental in the change process because of their actions in connecting corporate and local structures through communication and commitment process. Middle managers, because of their hands on understanding of local work processes, may be crucial in the innovation of local work processes (Streatfield, 2001). In their study of strategic change in a university, Gioia and Chittipeddi (1991) found that middle mangers were involved in providing a viable interpretation of what change would mean for the work unit so that employees would adopt it as their own. Case studies of organizational change suggest that middle mangers are key to the successful change because they translate broad collective goals into language that work groups will understand (Gioia and Chittipeddi, 1991).

Lorch (1967) found that mid level mangers in high performing organizations develop voluntary activities to supplement traditional hierarchical and administrative systems in high performing organizations. Kanter (1982), in her research on the role of managers in ten major corporations found that organizational leaders in successful organizations, particularly middle mangers, play the role of integrationists.

Managers in public organizations can also be distinguished into top managers and middle managers. Comparable to the private sector, top managers are seen as responsible for strategic decisions, organizing administrative structure and providing incentives to achieve these strategies. Middle managers have positions between those top managers who are responsible for strategic tasks and those who are at the front line of an organization. Their tasks include implementing deliberate strategies and mediating between hierarchies in bridging the gap between strategic plans and adaptation due to environmental change.

The role of middle managers in public sector reform processes is viewed controversially too. Inertia is one of the most commonly used terms to describe the behaviour of middle managers when reform elements are implemented into public organizations. This perception is portrayed in Osborne and Gaebler’s (1992 ) frequently-cited quotation: “The most serious resistance to teamwork and participatory management often comes from middle managers, not unions. If employees are making decisions and solving problems, middle managers become superfluous. Too often they stand in the way of action, because their instinct, to justify their existence, is to intervene” (p.65).

Nonetheless, middle managers are often stressed as inevitable parts of the public organizations. Morgan et al (1996) note that middle managers serve as essential communication links between the organization’s senior-level managers and the line personnel. An investigation by Currie (2000) on the role of middle management in times of strategic change revealed that middle managers are spreaders as well as recipients of change in adapting and facilitating deliberate strategy.

In sum, a growing body of empirical research argues that the role of middle managers is crucial for an adequate implementation of organizational change. In my research I suggest that middle level public mangers play crucial roles in mediating the implementation of change in their local work through their leadership orientations in the organizational change process.

Leadership Theories

Few topics in organization theory and organization behavior have generated more discussion than managerial leadership. Leadership theorists, since 1940s have literally been in meditation to understand managerial leadership, particularly, the paths by which successful leaders exercise their influence over individuals and organizations and the impact of managerial leadership on performance. A massive body of empirical and theoretical work has piled up over time, yet as one leading expert contends “leadership is the most observed and least understood phenomenon on earth” (Burns, 1978). Leadership experts lament over weak understanding of leadership and the fact that no dominant theory of leadership has emerged. Instead the literature remains divided into several competing clusters of theories and approaches, each emphasizing different aspects of leadership, and there are few attempts at integration.

Some of the leading ones include traits and skills theories, leadership behavior approaches, research on power and influence, situational and contingencies theories and cognitive theories. The following discussion illustrates the diversity of theories and approaches for explaining leadership effectiveness, as well as the limitations of each approach. The aim is to demonstrate the potential that Bolman and Deal’s four-frame model holds for explaining a midlevel public manager’s effect on implementation of organizational change.

Trait Theory

Research on leadership traits and skills represents one of the earliest attempts by scholars to understand effective leadership. Trait theories, as the name implies, attempt to identify a set of characteristics common among successful leaders. Some traits are considered to be innate and other traits can be developed. Studies by Stogdill (1948), Katz (1974) and others tried to identify the traits and skills of successful leaders.

Stodgill (1948) examined 124 trait studies and concluded that the impact of traits on leadership ability varies from situation to situation. Stodgill (1981), in another study, determined that traits like- vigor and persistence, drive for responsibility, initiative, self-confidence, willingness to embrace challenges and consequences, and the ability to influence others’ behavior are characteristic of a effective leader. Katz (1974) came up with typologies of the technical, human, and conceptual managerial skills as predictor of management effectiveness.

Although various different traits were found to be related to different aspects of leadership effectiveness, the link between individual traits and effectiveness often were weak (Bass, 1985, Yukl, 2002). More ever, this research approach, failed to identify a set of skills and traits that all successful leaders must possess.

Behavioral Theory

The leadership behavior approach also has a long tradition, including such seminal studies as the Ohio State Leadership Studies and Michigan Leadership Studies, as well as Blake and Mouton’s (1964) managerial grid, which evolved from the first two studies. Two broad categories of task oriented and relation ship oriented behavior were identified by ht e Ohio State and Michigain Studies. The Ohio State Leadership Studies of the 1940.s looked at two dimensions of leader behavior, initiating structure, and consideration. Initiating structure dealt with organizational skills while consideration was defined as behaviors that focus on the leader-subordinate relationship.

Researchers at Michigan State University examined “identification of relationships among leader behavior, group processes, and measures of group performance” as three factors that differentiated between effective and ineffective managers that led to the finding of task oriented behaviors, relationship-oriented behaviors, and participative leadership (Yukl, 1994). Both studies revealed that the situation affected the leader’s behavior even though the exact behavior for certain situations remained unidentified (Yukl, 1994).

The Managerial Grid proposed by Blake and Mouton deals with leader concerns along the dimensions of people and production (Blake and Mouton, 1964; Hoy & Miskel, 1997; Bensimon et al, 1989). Research using these models reveals that effective leaders scored high on both dimensions of tasks and relationships, while recognizing that the uniqueness of any given situation may determine if one or both dimensions was the overriding consideration.

(Bass and Avolio, 1994) found leaders who are consistent, utilize power wisely, share risks, and have high standards of conduct epitomize this theory. However, an overall assessment of leadership behavior research is that it has enjoyed only modest success linking individual behaviors to leadership effectiveness, and researchers have failed to identify a definitive set of essential leadership behaviors. The role of situational variables in explaining leadership effectiveness has also been generally overlooked in this behavior approach studies.

Contingency and Situational Leadership Theory

To explain leadership effectives under varying conditions, and to account for the moderating effects of situational variables, researchers have developed situational and contingency theories. The prominent works include- Fiedler’s (1967) LPC contingency model, the Path Goal Theory of leadership (Huse, 1971), the Multiple Linkage Model (Yukl, 1989), Leadership Substitute Theory (Kerr and Jemier, 1978) and Heresy and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Theory(Heresy, Blanchard, and Johnson, 2000).

Contingency and situational leadership focuses on the external situation as a determinate of the leadership style. Correlating and compiling the situation with an effective behavior can create operating procedures that could be used when needed (Northouse, 2001).This theory suggests traits required of a leader differ according to varying situations. Effective leaders, according to this approach, must have the skill to determine the needs of their followers and the ability to adjust their leadership style to address those needs and the situation (Northouse, 2001; Yukl, 1994).

Although various situational models provide useful contingencies and better insights into the processes required for leadership, the complexity of the models raises additional issues. Dill (1987) questioned why the situational model so consistently focuses on relationships with subordinates if relating to one’s subordinates is only a part of the activity of managerial leadership. Further, the theory does not offer a list of all other situational variables that can be measured in a single survey instrument Like behavior theories, the research results of contingency theories were found to be inconsistent(Bryman, 1996).

Power and Influence Theory

The power and influence approach includes numerous studies aimed at explaining leadership effectiveness in terms of the amount and type of power a leader possesses and the manner in which that power is exercised. French and Raven(1968) looked at the sources of power and identified five kinds of power: reward, coercive, legitimate, referent, and expert. Etzioni developed another typology – coercive, remunerative, and normative. Mintzberg developed another power typology that emphasizes the control over a resource, skill, or information.

These typologies prompted further research in the leader’s use of power, considerations, and consequences. Fisher (1984) studied power and found referent to be the most effective, followed by expert power, then legitimate power, reward power, and finally coercive power

The concept of power is an important theme in leadership research. Early research primarily emphasized the ways in which leaders used power to influence subordinates in a one-direction approach. However, social exchange theories consider the mutual and reciprocal relationships that exist in organizations and between persons in various positions of authority. Leadership is a much more dynamic process where leaders accumulate power, which is mediated by a variety of factors such as followers’ expectations and authority acceptance. The leader-follower relationship, which is central to social exchange theory, is also a key element in understanding another power and influence theory: transactional leadership. This Transactional leadership assists followers in meeting their needs.

Another power and influence theory that extended the ideas of transactional leadership is transformational leadership. Transformational leadership emerged in the 1980s as a way to describe the ways in which leaders may significantly influence culture and commitment. Burns (1978); Hoy and Miskel (1996) contend that transformation leadership can transform an organization by increasing performance, fostering dedication, and altering personal values and beliefs. Followers share the leader’s vision, and are both empowered and self motivated.

However, the power and influence theories haven’t considered the effects of context on leadership, and also have ignored the process by which influence is managed. Charismatic and transformational theories continue to be hindered by various problems, including concepts that are difficult to operationalize, causal paths that remain unclear, and the need to assess the impact of these leadership approaches under varying situations or conditions (Bryman, 1993; Yukl, 1999).

Cognitive Theory

Cognitive theories emphasize the implicit understanding of processes and events. Individual perceptions and the way in which information is processed and organized become critical. From the perspective this approach, the participants in terms of their understanding of meanings perceive leadership in organizational occurrences (Markus & Zajonc, 1985). Each person involved in the leadership process is considered to have his or her own implicit theory of leadership in that particular situation (Turley, 2002) expressed in frames, lenses, metaphors, cognitive maps and schema (Marcus & Zajonc, 1985).

From the leader’s perspective the schemas or frames determine how incoming information about a situation and the people involved will be organized and interpreted. Responses and decisions are always limited by the type and amount of information that becomes accessible to the leader through cognitive filters. Some researchers have argued that attending to the metaphors used within an organization, will provide leaders with a better understanding of employee behavior and response. Palmer and Lundberg (1995) assert that metaphors can be used as diagnosing tools in organizations.

Cognitive models propose that people with low cognitive complexity tend to see things in

black and white, whereas those with high cognitive complexity are able to discriminate many shades of gray, identify complex patterns of relationships, and predict future events from current trends (Turley, 2002; Yukl, 1994). A high degree of cognitive complexity tends to help leaders conform to prototypical models of what followers expect leaders to be, and understand critical factors and the relationship embedded in them.

Along with understanding how individuals use metaphors or frame situations, some argue that these constructs can be used to view organizational events from a variety of perspectives. Cognitive theories of leadership emphasize the leader’s need to view events and situations from multiple frames. Pondy and Huff (1988) suggest that change interventions typically flounder because they are improperly framed by the management. Bolmon and Deal (1984, 1991a, 1997, 2003, 2008), drawing on cognitive theories of leadership, argue that ability to use multiple frames of reference is essential to leadership effectiveness.

Bolman and Deal Model

Bolman and Deal view leadership from a cognitive perspective and argue that organizational activities and events can be viewed from multiple perspectives. Acknowledging that every leader brings a particular world view of his/her role, Bolman and Deal collapse the inevitable multiplicity of possible perspectives into four frames: structural, human resource, political and symbolic.

Bolman and Deal suggest these four ways of thinking might act as frames through which to view action. Each frame provides a different picture of the action. Trying to understand organizational action through only one frame limits our understanding, yet that is what generally happens ( Bolmann & Deal, 2003). Bolmann and Deal contend that we often single mindedly analyse a problem or situation in the work place from only one perspective when the problem or the situation is complex and should be analysed through more than one perspective:

Each of theses frames has its own vision or image of reality. Only when managers, consultants and policy makers can look through all four are they likely to appreciate the depth and complexity of organizational life. Galileo discovered this when he devised the first telescope. Each lens that he added contributed to a more accurate image of the heavens. Successful managers take advantage of the same truth. They frame and reframe until they understand the situation at hand (Bolman and Deal, 2003). Table 1 provides a basic overview of the Four Frame Model.

The implications of the differences in perspectives can be seen in the ways people form different perspectives view common organizational processes and events. For example, from a structural frame orientation, planning is primarily a goal and objective setting activity. From the human resource frame, planning is an activity bringing people together, fostering participation. From the political perspective, planning sets the stage for conflict and power realignment. From the symbolic frame, planning is a ritual signalling responsibility which yields symbols and rituals. (Bolman and Deal, 2008). Bolman and Deal assert that communication, meetings, decision making, evaluating and reorganizing are all activities or processes subject to different interpretations based on frame.

Structural Frame

Theorist using this frame view organizations as goal seeking entities. Similar to Morgan’s machine metaphor, rules, policies, management hierarchies, and division of labour are the building blocks of the structural frame. This frame focuses on formal roles and relationships within the organization. Organizations create their organizational chart to fit their environment and technology.

The structural orientation emphasizes productivity and assumes that organizations work best when the efforts of individual and groups are organized through authority, policies, and rules. Problems arose from confusion or misalignment in the formal system. They are clarified by shifting authority explanation of roles, restructuring, and policies (Bolman, Deal, & Rallis, 1995). When using the structural frame, organizational change may produce uncertainty in regard to role and structure. As a result, policies and procedures will redesign or restructuring as a projected solution to organizational problems.

Briefly, theories focus on hierarchy and bureaucracies, such as Webber’s seminal work on organizations (1938). Organizations operate as a result of the articulated goals and rational goal-seeking behaviour. Work is accomplished through differentiation of tasks (Lawrence and Lorsch, 1969), defined formal roles (Mintzberg, 1979) and through the coordination of activity (Thompson, 1967).

A manager or leader using the structural frame looks at the organization as a closed system. Structural managers think clearly and logically and approach problems with facts. They pursue clear goals, set direction, value data and analysis, and try to resolve organizational issues with new policies and rules or through restructuring (Bolman & Deal, 2003).

Human Resource Frame

Bolman and Deal assert that the structural view is not the only way to look at organizational activity. They argue that it s imperative to view organizational issues as they relate to individual needs.

Human resource theorists view individuals as organizational greatest assets. The building block of this frame is the hierarchy of needs (Maslow, 1954, Mcgregor, 1960) including the tendencies towards self-actualization (Argyris, 1964) and the person-organization fit. The human resource frame envisions an organization comparable to an extended family with individuals with needs, feelings, prejudices, skills and limitations. These individuals have the capacity to learn; however, they also tend to defend old attitudes and beliefs. From the human resource perspective, the challenge is to tailor the organization to the people.

When people use this frame as a method of analysing organizational issues, problems relating to unmet, work related needs come to the front. For example, when change is introduced in an organization, individuals using the human resource frame may see they are no longer trained to perform their job. The skills that had provided them with qualifications for the job are no longer pertinent. Employees may feel incompetent or powerless as a result of organizational change.

The human resource frame is centred around the concept that organizational effectiveness depends on the manager’s ability to understand the characteristics of its people, and her or his ability to tailor the organization to people. The human resource manger/leader defines problems in interpersonal terms and looks for ways to adjust the people to fit the organization or adjust the organization to fit the people. Such managers emphasize change through training, rotation, and promotion (Bolman & Deal, 2003). The human resource oriented managerial leaders find solutions to problems by taking individual needs into consideration and finding a way for employees to maximize potential and increase job satisfaction

Political Frame

The third frame, the political frame, is based on ideas from the political science arena. It assumes a continuing competition among different constituencies for scarce resources and emphasizes individual and group interests The building blocks of this frame are the ways to accrue and maintain power (French and Raven, 1959, pp 150-165)., the conflict generated from shifts in and struggles for power (Pfeffer and Salanick, 1974, Pfeffer and Salanick, 1977) the allocation of the scarce resources (Pfeffer and Moore, 1980), and the bargaining entailed in the allocation of power and resources.

People viewing organizations through this lens identify loss of organizational or managerial or change in coalition as problem. This frame assumes that groups compete for scarce resources and conflict is a normal by-product of this competition (Bolman & Deal, 1984; 1992). Organizational members may see themselves vying for power and /or for resources against those with whom they had formerly been allied in conflict resulting from change in the organization. Problems may arise as individuals or groups try to influence the allocation of resources as “power is unevenly distributed or so broadly dispersed that it is difficult to get anything done” (Bolman & Deal, 1984, p. 5).

Within such organizational complexity, solutions depend on the managerial leader’s political skill and acumen. The political frame displaces organizational goals with individual and group interests (Bolman & Deal, 1992). Political orientation managers are effective at building alliances and support. They are especially skilled as negotiators in the face of conflict and opposition (Strickland, 1992). They value realism and pragmatism and spend much time networking, creating coalitions, negotiating compromises, and building a power base (Bolman & Deal, 1984, 1991a, 1991b).

Symbolic Frame

The fourth frame, the symbolic frame, is derived primarily from the field of Anthropology. The world is viewed as chaotic in which meaning and predictability are social creations and facts are interpretive as opposed to objective. The theme for this frame is based on the notion that despite individual and group differences, an organization’s culture and shared values hold the organization together. Symbols, rituals (Schein, 1985), and myths (Clark, 1970) are the building blocks of this frame. When using this frame, organizational action is examined for what it means rather than for what has happened.

The symbolic orientation centres attention on symbols, beliefs, and faith .organizations create symbols to cultivate commitment, hope, and loyalty. Symbols govern behaviour through informal rules, agreements, and understandings. Stories, metaphors, heroes, ritual, and ceremony add zest and existential buoyancy. The organization becomes a way of life rather than merely a place to work (Bolman, Deal & Rallis, 1995)

The symbols can create the feeling of stability in an uncertain environment. Problems arise when the central mission of the organizations suddenly change– when there is loss of meaning in the stories about the organization, its founder or leader. Solutions include providing the opportunity for transition so that employees can move from former to current symbols, values or missions.

Managerial leaders using the symbolic frame look at organizations as complex and always changing .they envision a world in which organizations develop symbols and cultures that shape human behaviour. The symbolic leaders are highly imaginative. They inspire others to loyalty and enthusiasm and communicate a strong sense of vision. Symbolic leaders use charisma and drama along with myth, ritual, ceremony, and stories to promote the mission and identity of the organization (Bolman & Deal, 1992a, 1991b).

Multiframe Perspective Research

Numerous researchers of management and organizations have discussed multiframe views of organization and the importance of multiframe perspectives is evident in their works (Allison, 1971; Elmore, 1978; Morgon, 1986; Quinn, 1988; Scott, 1981; Kanter, 1983; Perrow, 1986).

There is an evolving body of work that supports multiframe leadership. Many leadership scholars (Bimbaum, 1988; Bensimon, 1991; and Bensimon, Neumann, and Bimbaum, 1989) have also advanced the frame perspective of leadership, however, Bolmon and Deal have presented the most complete explication of frames concept. Bolman and Deal have provided constructs for each frame, instruments to measure the constructs and research that validates these constructs. Virtually, all research completed by others using the frames view, build on the Bolman and Deal theory articulation.

There is also a growing body of research that relies exclusively on the Bolman and Deal’s model. For example, Doucher (1996) examined the leadership orientations of school administrators identified as being effective leaders. The human resource frame was the predominant frame used by the effective leaders. Kelly (1997) used Bolmon and Deal four frame leadership orientation in his study in which he compared frame utilization of senior executives from fortune 50 companies and senior level administrators from public four year colleges and universities in Missouri. In a study of a hospital transition to patient-centered care, Anderson (1994) found that components of the frames emerged in defining certain elements of the change effort. The frame reference was significant for adding meaning to the hospital staff as the transition was occurring. Becker (1999) studied leadership perspectives of chief information officers in implementation of technology in higher education and found multiframe leadership and successful implementation to be positively associated. Matalon (1997) studied effect of leadership orientations on policy/ program implementation and concluded that multi-frame leadership has a positive link with effective adoption of change by the target users. The composite results of these studies provide a substantial empirical support for mutiframe leadership

In sum, leadership has been studied extensively and the volume of published work is huge and massive. Research on leadership has evolved from a primary focus on traits and skills of a leader to a complex view that recognizes the importance of situation, the follower and their interaction and the way in which individuals perceive and interpret information. This linkage provides a powerful insight into the complexity of the leadership process and underpins the Bolman and Deal model of leadership.

Multiframe Leadership and Effectiveness

This model emphasize that examining issues from a number of different perspectives is the key to effectiveness. Effective management views issues from the human, structural, political, and symbolic ramifications of policies and decisions. Bolman and Deal believe each orientation influences a person’s perception of his workplace, thus functioning as a lens through which a person sees things. Managers and administrators like all individuals, see the world through a unique lens. Through their lenses, these managerial leaders filter information and find patterns in the complex situations they confront. Bolman and Deal’s research (1984, 1992a, & 1992b, 1997, 2003) did not outline specific characteristics of effective individuals, but found that examining issues from a number of different perspectives was the key to effectiveness. If managers view issues from human, structural, political, and symbolic perspectives, then decisions are formed in a more equalized manner.

Bolman and Deal argue that each orientation can be coherent, focused, and powerful; the full array is more comprehensive than any single orientation. Reframing is a conscious effort to size up a situation from multiple angles or view the situation from a different orientation. In times of crisis or overload one tends to feel confused or overwhelmed if one can not reorientate. Sometimes mangers are trapped in the wrong orientation; they are immobilized or plunge recklessly into a misguided action. To avoid these common traps, managers often need to shift their orientations of reference. (Bolman & Deal, 1995, p. 3)

Researchers who have used the Bolman and Deal model have suggested that managerial leaders use these four frames to solve problems, interpret events, and act upon them (Bensimon, 1989). Studies have also revealed that in today’s complex organizations, administrators and managers approach organizational problems with one frame. However, effective leaders use more than one frame to analyze and make clear judgments (Bensimon, 1989; Bolman & Deal, 1991b; Mosser, 2000). Bolman and Deal (1984) and Bensimon (1989) suggested that organizations have multiple realities and managers need multiple lenses or perspectives to deal with problems. Managers should be able to examine problems from different perspectives (Lombard, 1971). Leaders who use several frames are likely to be more flexible in dealing with different administrative tasks because they have different images of the organization and can interpret events in a variety of ways (Bensimon, 1989).

Bolman and Deal (1991) found that the managerial leaders who were studied “preferred one or two of the leadership orientations, often rejecting the others.” Many times leaders disagreed about which images were right and which were wrong. Such disagreement was often the source of unproductive conflict that resulted in less than effective decisions on their part. In working with leaders all over the world these researchers have found that people who become more aware of their own perspectives become more effective. It helps to have a manageable set of orientations, each offering a window to different facets of the challenges of organizational life. It is also easier to know where your colleagues are coming from if you understand their frames of reference. Bolman and Deal (1991b) have asserted that in an increasingly complex world, the ability to use more than one frame should increase a person’s ability to act effectively and make clear judgements. Individuals need to rely on all four frames to be effective as leaders, but the results have shown they often use only one or two frames. It is difficult to understand complex organizations from a single frame (Bolman and Deal, 1984; Heimovics, Herman, and Coughlin, 1993).

Multiframe Approach and Implementation of Change

Implementation of a policy or program changes the status quo of the organization on the organizational and individual level and will have different meanings for all participants (Bolman and Deal, 1991). Change creates uncertainty in organizational processes and the way in which individuals act. Using the four frame approach, it is possible to conceive of individuals viewing and responding to change differently according to their orientations. For example, if in an organizational change, one group member has a structural approach, he/she will see change as producing chaos and uncertainty in the organization. Another group member using the symbolic frame may see the same change as producing a loss of organizational meaning. Whereas those who view organizations through the political frame see it as process creating conflict and disturbing power and resource distribution; and people with a human resource orientation will feel powerless and incompetent. Individuals will assess the costs and benefits of change depending on their frame of reference for organization and respond according to individual interpretation of the process.

Pressman and Wildavsky (1984) argue that different ways to look at organizations have implications related to all organizational processes leading to differing views concerning organizational goals. Differing views on organizational goals will lead to different responses to organizational change (Smelter and Zener, 1995).

Bolman and Deal (2003) discuss the use of multiple frames as the optimal way to understand organizations. The authors argue that analysing organizational processes through one lens ignores the complexity of the action and results in lack of understanding of the action. The inability to consider multiple perspectives continually undermines efforts to mange or change organizations.

According to Bolman and Deal (2003), practioners may not use the appropriate frame to analyse action. They suggest that rather than depending on one frame, one should integrate all frames into the analysis to provide a reasonable explanation of the action. It is increasingly apparent that single frame approach severely limits one’s ability to understand and manage organizational actions.

Many people adhere to one frame and make judgements on organizational activity based on that frame. Cadwell (1994) found that a sample of hospital employees used structural frame to understand changes in their organization almost exclusively. Wilkie (1993) also found that mangers relied on only one frame in explaining change to employees and used that frame to realize the change.

From the above discussion it is evident that individuals with different views of organization will view both the process of implementation and its implications differently, and every individual responds to it with a different perspective. This makes sense that implementation of change is not a linear process as conceived by the rational view of organization. Rather, it is a complex and dynamic organizational process which necessitates a multiple frame approach of leadership for optimal results.

Research Hypotheses

An analysis of the above literature leads to the following hypotheses:

  1. Midlevel public managers and their subordinates may differ in their perception about the use of leadership frames by midlevel public managers.
  2. The perception of midlevel public managers and their subordinates may be different with regard to midlevel mangers’ leadership effectiveness and its association with the dominant leadership frames.
  3. The perception of senior managers about skills and behaviours of midlevel public managers for successful implementation of change may be consistent with the Bolman and Deal Model.
  4. Use of multiple leadership orientations by midlevel public mangers and effective implementation of change may have positive association.

In the above testable hypotheses, four leadership frames, i.e., structural, human resource, political and symbolic are independent variables and leadership/managerial effectiveness and implementation effectiveness are dependent variables, which I will explain through this research study.


The implementation of a new policy or program into an organization is an organizational process that creates a changing environment. New standard operating procedures are required, the goals of the organization may be shifted, requirement for employee expertise may change, and /or locus of control may shift. Change creates uncertainty in organizational processes and affects the way in which individuals act.

Organizational members do not share the same perspective of organization. Each has slightly different view based on different frame of reference. As a result, the way an individual responds to organizational change may be predicated by organizational frame orientation. The complexity and dynamics of implementation can be understood using the four frames separately, but understanding becomes richer when bringing the four frames together in various combinations. If we look at situation of change through the structural and human resource frame, we took into consideration the uncertainty and chaos dimensions of the situation as well as issues related to incompetence. But we leave out any issues related to conflict or loss of meaning.

The present study is based on the assumption that implementation of change is a complex organizational process and effective managerial leadership is crucial for successful implementation. Implementation of change is influenced by a multiplicity of factors, including the change or innovation itself, the perceptions and needs of the individuals, the prevailing political and cultural environment of the organization and organizational structure. Eevery organizational member responds to the change with a different perspective. The confluence of these factors underlines the challenges being faced by the middle mangers while implementing change and creates a compelling need for multi-frame leadership. For effective implementation of a change program, the midlevel public managers need to have a cognitively complex leadership. This study analyses individual manager’s frame utilization and investigates the relationship between frame and implementation of planned organizational change.

The Bolman and Deal model is appropriate for examining the leadership frames of midlevel public managers in relation to implementation of change in the Pakistani public sector. The model is useful for studying the leadership of midlevel public managers because it acknowledges the diversity of issues and challenges associated with the implementation process and requires the ability to view leadership from multiple perspectives.

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The mid level public managers. (2017, Jun 26). Retrieved December 8, 2022 , from

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