Date of Award


Degree Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Business and Law

First Advisor

Professor Pi-Shen Seet

Second Advisor

Dr Alan Coetzer


This study aims to gain an in-depth understanding of the first-line manager’s (FLM) role through Social Exchange Theory. It focuses on experiences of senior managers, FLMs and employees during radical organisational change (ROC). This phenomenological study used 40 semi-structured interviews analysed by thematic analysis. The study finds the FLM-employee relationship was underpinned by high reciprocity and group gain. FLMs also played an active role in facilitating ROC but they were challenged by inadequate resources and poor communication. FLMs overcame these obstacles by being pragmatic and by mobilising a social exchange-based strategy that gained employees’ buy-in and clients’ friendships.