Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

The Impact of Ostrich Managers on Strategic Management

Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

The Impact of Ostrich Managers on Strategic Management

Article excerpt


One of the most important roles a manager can play is that of strategist. However, many people in authority function as ostrich managers rather than strategists, thereby limiting their own effectiveness as well as the effectiveness of their organizations. By choosing to positively impact the strategic management of an organization, its leaders can help determine the organization's future as well as its influence on the history and future of the world (Pryor, White, and Toombs, 2007, 1998). Yet ostrich managers choose not to have such positive impact.


The authors developed a survey entitled Ostrich Manager Quick Test (Chart 1) for managers who wish to assess themselves and determine the extent to which they are ostrich managers or strategists.

Chart 1: Ostrich Manager Quick Test

Ostrich Manager Quick Test

The following simple test is provided for managers who wish to
assess themselves to see if their actions would encourage people to
call them ostrich managers or strategists.

Please answer the following questions as: (1) Always, (2) Usually,
(3) Sometimes, (4) Rarely, and (5) Never to determine the extent to
which you are an ostrich manager.

______1. Do you avoid difficult confrontations with others, even
though you intuitively feel that the confrontation is necessary?

______2. Are you unaware of the common work problems faced by
members of your staff (all the way down to the lowest level in your

______3. Are you unaware of the common personal problems faced by
members of your staff (all the way down to the lowest level in your

______4. Do you ignore ideas or comments that don't fit within your
paradigms or your view of the world?

______5. Do you make decisions that significantly affect other
people without getting their inputs or without fully knowing the
consequences of your decisions?

______6. Are you hesitant to believe information that is
discomforting or "bad news"?

______7. Do you ever "skirt the truth" to protect people's

______8. Do you discourage people in your organization to point out

______9. Do you discourage other people outside your organization
(i.e., suppliers and customers) to point out problems within your
organization and suggest improvements?

______10. Do you avoid making personnel decisions that would be
difficult for people to handle personally, even though you think
they would be good business decisions for your group or the

______11. Do you consider only the short-term consequences of
actions and decisions?


11-22 Unfortunately, you're an ostrich manager. Accept this fact
and try to change because this behavior is detrimental to your
effectiveness as a manager and to your organization as a whole.

23-43 The good news is you're not completely an ostrich manager.
You may be middle-of-the-road for all questions or you may have
found that you act like an ostrich manger on some occasions and act
like a strategist on other occasions. Keep up the good work on the
issues for which you're a strategist, buy try to correct the
situations in which you tend to bury your head.

44-55. As a strategist, you have developed the ability to create
your own future as well as the future of your organization. Keep up
the excellent work.

In an attempt to test construct validity and convergent validity, this survey was administered online to graduate Business students who are currently working or have worked in management, supervisory and/or team leader positions. Sixty-eight out of 113 (60%) responded to the survey. The students were able to respond anonymously. The results of the survey are presented in Table 1.


The term "ostrich manager" comes from the common belief that an ostrich will bury its head in the sand to protect itself when faced with a threat. In reality, when confronted with a perceived threat, an ostrich will flatten its head to the ground until the threat is gone. …

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