The management of extensive and fundamental change processes is increasingly forming part of the basic set of leadership tasks of managers. Equally, it is often considered to be the most important prerequisite to ensuring the long-term and sustainable survival of corporations. Managers are chartered with playing a decisive role in making change processes successful: While top management plays a prominent role in planning and initiating change, it remains in the hands of middle managers to design implementation in such a way that employees support the change process and are committed to it. Even though academics and practitioners agree that change projects make increased demands on the involved managers, there is still little knowledge about which competences are required especially for middle managers to design and implement change processes successfully. This dissertation aims at closing this gap and at contributing to a contextual description of middle managers' change competence. The core of this dissertation is the description of a comprehensive change project that resulted in radical structural and process-related changes and required significant changes regarding team work and behaviour, from senior executives to middle management to other employees. As a first step, this case study, together with additional empirical analyses, serves to elaborate the crucial role played by middle managers particularly in the implementation phase of change processes.
Subsequently the specific demands that are made on middle managers in their task of change will be deduced and translated into a competence profile. Furthermore, based on the results of the empirical and theoretical analysis, recommendations for developing change competence and designing change processes will be concluded, that can contribute to a successful implementation of change projects. And finally, the resulting implications for consulting in and supporting of change projects will be discussed.