The functions of top, middle, and lower managers in decision making, overall, are integrated, but with a definite hierarchy as applies to strategic, tactical, and operational information. We will consider each management type individually:
Top managers are essentially supervisors over middle and lower managers. They oversee that the managers under them in the chain-of-command are properly implementing the initiatives, strategies, and plans put forth by them and other even more high-ranking personnel in the organization (CEO, Directors, Senior Vice-Presidents, and such). Top managers take strategic direction from those above them, or formulate their own strategies that middle and lower managers will follow through on.
Top managers make decisions and expect that middle and lower level managers will support and advance these decisions. Overall, top managers deal with strategic information and work to put the business strategies in place for the overall success of the organization. They then guide middle managers in creating tactics that will advance strategic goals.
Middle managers are a conduit between lower level managers and top managers. They take direction from top managers and pass the specifics of those directions on to lower managers who will, in a sense, work on the front lines to carry out those directions. Therefore, regarding decision making, middle managers can offer input to top managers, with the final say on significant decisions resting with the top managers. However, middle managers do have responsibilities to make other vital decisions. They can take the advice of top managers and lower managers as they formulate decisions.
Middle managers are more focused on tactical information and the approaches and methods that will advance corporate strategies.
Lower level managers concern themselves more with daily operations. They perform the nuts and bolts work (the doing) of the strategies and tactics funneled down to them from top and middle managers. In a quality organization, lower level managers are given some decision making responsibilities. They must base their decisions on the goals of the managers above them, who have provide the lower level managers with strategy and tactical guidelines. Lower level managers are “operational” managers. They, and the employees under them, are the “doers” more often than not of the strategies and tactics decided upon in the organization.
An example of all of the above would be a Sports Department manager in a department store (lower level manager), who has a Store Manager over him or her (a middle manager). This Store Manager has a Regional Manager over him or her (a top manager).