Information Management: The Organizational Dimension

By Michael J. Earl | Go to book overview

22 The Hybrid Manager

DAVID J. SKYRME


Introduction

The challenges facing organizations in the 1990s require the skills of a special kind of manager--the hybrid manager. A hybrid manager is someone who blends the skills of information management and business management. Although the need for such people has been recognized for several years, the topic has only recently come into vogue. This is due to the growing evidence that hybrid managers can make a significant contribution to an organization's success.

This chapter starts with background on the concept of hybrid managers and why they are needed. Their contribution in different areas of information management activity is then described. This is followed by a discussion of the competences that they require and how they can be developed. Finally, a framework is offered which puts hybrids in their wider organizational context and helps identify factors for performance improvement.

The material for this chapter is drawn mainly from the results of a research project into hybrid managers carried out by the author. There were three main strands of research--a literature survey; in-depth interviews with directors, senior managers, and project team participants (in both the IS function and business units) in eight UK organizations; and a questionnaire survey.


Background

The term 'hybrid manager' was first coined by Keen in 1988 and more formally defined by Earl ( 1989) as: 'people with strong technical skills and adequate business knowledge, or vice versa... hybrids are people with technical skills able to work in user areas doing a line or functional job, but adept at developing and supplementing IT application ideas.'

Earl also defined two similar roles: leaders--'executives in user areas who can drive the exploitation of IT in their business'; and impresarios- 'the few executive managers in the IS function who can propel the organization into strategic consideration of IT'. The distinctions between these

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