An investigation of how middle managers address the balance between autonomous and induced strategic entrepreneurial behaviour in the UAE context
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Having integrated knowledge from previous landmark research and from recent studies about organisational factors, this study examines how middle managers address the balance between induced and autonomous strategic behaviours in UAE-based companies. It is widely assumed that when organisations are engaged in corporate entrepreneurship it leads to innovation, strategic renewal and corporate venturing. The relationship between the two strategic behaviours is described as problematic due to the lack of clarity regarding the facilitative context of organisational antecedents. The phenomenological paradigm is chosen for this study as it involves analysis of middle-level managers’ entrepreneurial behaviour, and looks into both subjective and objective interpretations of internal factors whose influence is intrinsically linked to a balance between induced and autonomous initiatives. The research uses an exploratory-based multiple sample design of five case studies in large multinational organisations along with the unit of analysis of 15 middle managers, each having different job functions. Employing a qualitative methodology, empirical data are gathered through an observation-based approach and individual semi-structured interviews. It was found that middle managers perceive a sense of strong management support and encouragement to extol the virtues of new innovative ideas. However, the study’s findings suggest that the height and span of control of an organisational structure and time availability as internal antecedents impede heavily on middle managers’ entrepreneurial initiatives. The study reveals a range of issues relating to the heterogeneous cultural context in UAE multinational companies in terms of a centralised management structure. These issues include lengthy and elaborate risk assessment procedures which directly impact corporate entrepreneurialism. The significance of the research and its contribution lies in expanding the body of literature by way of extending the existing theoretical framework and testing it in a new cultural context with specific reference to the UAE national culture. The current study introduces previously unrecognised internal factors that support or hinder induced and autonomous middle managers’ entrepreneurial behaviour. It identifies five initiatives middle managers endeavour to use to balance induced and autonomous strategic behaviours.