Millions of individuals within Corporate America work in roles designated within the middle management category (Zippia, 2023). The complexity of this type of role is that these individuals are tasked with carrying and implementing change, expected to fluidly switch between high and low power styles depending on who they are engaging with, and are often stuck between stakeholders with conflicting expectations (Anicich & Hirsh, 2017a). Because of the financial, cultural, and productivity costs of losing middle managers, it is important to better understand what, if any, relationship competency development has in increasing intent to stay amongst middle managers.

Findings of this mixed methods study demonstrated that competency development does positively impact intent to stay at the middle management level. The two categories most impacting intent to stay are competencies falling under methodological and social competencies and study participants perceived these two competency areas to be interdependent. Specifically, the survey results indicated the most positive impact on intent to stay when middle managers receive competency development in the ability to originate action to improve existing conditions or processes, lead with vision and values, and build strategic working relationships. Additionally, middle manager study participants perceived competency development in these areas to increase autonomy and empowerment to make decisions and felt competency development wholistically increased agency and ownership. Autonomy, empowerment to make decisions, agency, and ownership are all self-designated middle manager needs which, when met, increase intent to stay.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Middle managers; Competency-based education

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graziadio Business School



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Terri Egan