Technical expert assumes managerial responsibilities : an interpretivist perspective on transition in Australia

Bukarica, M 2009, Technical expert assumes managerial responsibilities : an interpretivist perspective on transition in Australia, Professional Doctorate, Graduate School of Business, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Technical expert assumes managerial responsibilities : an interpretivist perspective on transition in Australia
Author(s) Bukarica, M
Year 2009
Abstract In this study, Interpretivist epistemology and abductive research strategy were used to examine transcripts of sixteen two-hour focused interviews. The research sample was a group of technical experts who assumed managerial responsibilities within their organisations (transitional managers). The subjectively perceived experiences of the transition were examined as well as the respondents' intersubjective interpretations of the transition from the organisational perspective. The aim was to explore the perceived characteristics of the transitional experience.

The main findings of this study could be summarised as follows: firstly, it was found that there were three main types of transitional managers: the unwilling, the pragmatic and the eager managers. Secondly, the key motivations to take the manager role for all three categories were higher remuneration, technical peer respect and the respondent's new role as an organisational decision-maker.

The third finding of this study was that there were two types of transitions, the complete transition which the majority of the eager managers went through and the technical transition which was experienced by the unwilling and the pragmatic managers. Related to that finding was the link between the type of organisation, its culture and the leadership skills required in that organisation.

The fourth finding was that, irrespective of the amount of time in the manager role (six months to eleven years) or the type of transition (complete or technical), all respondents in this study continued to identify themselves as technical experts with the respondents who underwent a complete transition also seeing themselves as managers. Related to this finding was the respondents' continued identification as technical experts being largely due to their need to identify with their peers (other technical experts).

The fifth major finding of this study related to a lack of career planning by the respondents and little or no succession and management development planning by the respondents' organisations.

In a contribution to the theory of leadership studies, this study examined leadership as a social process, building on the existing leadership concepts and theories and putting them in a social context of subjective efforts by the researcher to interpret the respondents' transitional experiences through typification of the leadership characteristics into seven themes. The need to apply an individual contextualisation was seen as essential to understanding the transitional managers' response to their own transition. In doing so, the study has contributed towards narrowing the existing empirical literature gap on the transition processes.

The contributions of this study need to be seen in the context that explorative research such as the one carried out here is not considered generalisable, as its aim was to explore and describe particular phenomena. Nevertheless, insights from this study were eight "tentative hypotheses" which could be used as the basis for future research.
Degree Professional Doctorate
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Graduate School of Business
Keyword(s) Executives -- Training of
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