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Becoming Manager

Taking a managerial position involves not only taking on managerial tasks and responsibilities but also developing an identity as manager. Such an identity is not fixed, nor is it every established once and for all; instead, managers are emergent, always in the process of becoming. This project examines the process of becoming manager, with a specific focus on first-time managers.

Background and research questions:

A first subproject focuses on first-time managers. First-time managers experience a time of significant transition but have nevertheless been paid limited attention in the academic literature. In this study, we explore managers’ identity work over time and in the flow of everyday working life, including interactions with others in the workplace.

A second subproject focuses on young managers. It is frequently claimed that the younger generation is less interested in taking on managerial roles. Focusing managers under the age of 35, this study explores individuals’ motivations for becoming managers, their conceptions of what being a manager involves, and their experiences of being managers. On the organizational level, the study focuses their work environment and factors therein that support their health or constitute health risks.

Research approach:

In the first subproject, a longitudinal study was conducted consisting of recurrent interviews with six managers during their first 1-16 months in formal managerial positions. Quantitative and qualitative data are currently being collected in the second subproject.

Key findings:

  • In this paper, we identify four narratives that first-time managers construct to make sense of who they are and how to relate to others in light of new experiences in their everyday lives as nascent managers. We show how managers’ experienced instances of both continuity and change, progress and stand-still, knowing and not-knowing, and excitement and despair.

Further information:

The subproject on young managers is funded by Afa Försäkring (“Visst vill jag vara chef! En studie av unga chefer ur ett individ- och organisationsperspektiv”).

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