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The role of technical skill perceptions of managerial performance

Hysong SJ. The role of technical skill perceptions of managerial performance. Journal of Management Development. 2008 Mar 1; 27(3):275-290.

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Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to determine whether technical skill provides incremental value over managerial skill in managerial performance for first-tier managers, and explore potential mediators of this relationship. Hypotheses: technical skill incrementally predicts managerial performance; referent and expert power mediate this relationship; and inspirational appeals and rational persuasion mediate the relationship between power and managerial performance. Design/methodology/approach - A total of 107 first-tier supervisors from local petrochemical and engineering companies completed an online survey about their professional background and managerial skills; subordinates rated supervisors' technical skill, power, and influence tactic habits. Managerial performance was measured as: production output, subordinate job satisfaction, and subordinate ratings. Findings - Technical skill incrementally predicted subordinate perceptions of managerial performance over managerial skill. Referent power mediated the relationship between technical skill and both subordinate ratings and job satisfaction; expert power only mediated for job satisfaction. Rational persuasion mediated the relationship between expert power and subordinate ratings of managerial performance. Research limitations/implications - Clear measurement of multidimensional constructs such as managerial performance and technical skill is essential. Limitations include self-selection bias and availability of objective technical skill measures. Future research should develop component-based measures of these constructs. Practical implications - Technical skill is valuable to managers as a source of credibility and a means to identify with subordinates. Technical skill should not, therefore, be the most important criterion in selecting technical managers. Originality/value - This study helps technical managers better leverage their technical skills in managerial contexts, and provides new research directions for component-based performance measurement.

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