Affiliation: School of Information and Library Science
The academic library middle manager (ALMM) role is little understood and understudied. Using Organizational Role Theory, Middle Managers’ Four Strategic Roles, and the Taxonomy of Managerial Performance Requirements as frameworks, this study was designed to identify and describe the expectations of the middle manager role in academic libraries; to discover the extent to which members of the middle managerâs role set agree about the expectations of the role; to learn the activities and behaviors ALMMs actually perform; to discover how employees learn the role; to learn to what extent AALMs experience role conflict, role ambiguity, and turnover intentions; and the extent to which ALMMs participate in strategic activities. This multiple case study utilized multiple perspective interviews, observations, questionnaires, and document analysis to gather data from 41 library employees across three academic libraries in order to create a bricolage of ALMM role set members’ perceptions, expectations, activities, and behaviors. Based on the degree to which employees’ expressed expectations overlapped (expectations consensus), participants expect ALMMs to communicate effectively, maintain technical proficiency, maintain good working relationships, and coordinate subordinates. But ALMMs also received a wide variety of expectations from their role set members and organizational documents, making them vulnerable to role conflict and role ambiguity. ALMMs also performed many activities that were not expressed as role set member expectations. Library employees learned the ALMM role through social interplay and learning rather through organizational documents or formal training. ALMMs in new positions and those subject to significant organizational change experience greater role ambiguity, while ALMMs who participate in strategic activities experience less role ambiguity. Findings support a further critique of ALMM preparation and training, including LIS education.