As the manufacturing industry of the economy began to decline in the 1970s and 1980s, many service-type organizations began to virtually appear everywhere (Kinsley). The ranks of white-collar middle managers made strides up corporate ladders, and filled thousands of positions. The stock market crash of October 1987 brought industries to a spiraling halt. Businesses, such as, airlines, financial services, and manufacturing were all descending. Suddenly all aspects organizations had counted on in the past, such as, stable market conditions, domestic competition, and the confidence to control business were no longer viable. In the late 1980's news of corporate axing in the middle management ranks became all too familiar.
Organizations began to delay their hierarchies and downsize their business. Organizations, once praised for "lifetime" employment, found themselves defending their stature in the marketplace while eliminating thousands of jobs, particularly those in middle management. Middle managers had been the "watchful eyes" of the organization. Their focus was internal, while being concerned with making the operation seamless. They monitored costs, identified variances, and solved operational problems. They did not focus on the external environment that affected the organization. Those actions were left to senior management, who had the answers to the many challenges and questions faced by the organization. They resolved most issues and drew their own conclusion on what was plaguing the business. For those middle managers who were fortunate to keep their jobs, operating a lean operation meant broader responsibilities, larger spans of control, slower career growth, and few upward mobility opportunities, all of this being done for far less job security. .
Senior managers expected different things, which middle managers were not equipped to perform. Today, most observers would agree that the old division of work no longer applies.