What Knowledge is Useful? > Companies and Functions
Hugo Uyterhoeven on middle managers
The history of the article is I said one of my contributions to Business Policy was in the pedagogy on how to make what looks like an uninteresting case a very interesting one. But it was very often the case that you had had the greatest pleasure reading would lead to a lousy class discussion, and vice versa.
The other contribution I made to Business Policy, when I was just teaching it, was I said, “We’ve got too damn many cases about the chief executives, and we do not have enough cases about the managers in the middle, the general managers in the middle.” So a lot of the ideas that are in the article were already written down in terms of teaching notes, and notes within business policy. And then really only after I got tenured did I decide to kind of spend the time in putting it down in paper, and then it appeared in ’72. So by that time I was in AMP.
And it was a big hit. It was a runner-up for the McKinsey Prize. I lost out to Ted Levitt, who was talking about global stuff at that time, and that was more exciting than middle managers. I got lots of invitations for speeches, and so forth. And then my last teaching around here, in the General Manager Program, I used to use it, and it was just as relevant then as it was in ’72.