Charlotte Ren and Chao Guo
This article examines the strategic role of middle managers in the corporate entrepreneurial process from an attention-based perspective. By integrating literatures from multiple disciplines, the authors delineate the attention-based effects on how middle managers provide the impetus for different types of entrepreneurial opportunities (i.e., exploratory vs. exploitative initiatives). Specifically, middle managers, constrained by the attention structures of the firm, likely prescreen entrepreneurial opportunities from lower organizational levels and attend primarily to those that align with the strategic orientation of the firm. This tendency may be moderated by the presence of other players, middle managers’ structural positions, and the availability of slack resources. Moreover, in their efforts to sell initiatives to top management, middle managers may leverage “policy windows”—patterned regularities and irregularities in and around the organization—to exploit existing attention structures to their advantage or perhaps to dismantle those structures.