The paper will examines and discusses the results from a structured observational study, wherein 50 first-line managers from the public sector in Denmark in five areas of employment where observed. These observational studies are a key contribution in the ‘greenhouse for management’ project: Management in the first level - new light on the first layer of managers in the food chain. The purpose of this paper is to clarify and answer two partially overlapping questions: 1. Investigate municipal first-line managers work activities and usage of time. 2. Examine the proportion of the managers' time is used on ordinary operational tasks versus managerial tasks. The first question will be examined on the empirical basis of 6-hour observations of 50 managers we examine three specific areas. First, we examined how many shifts in activity the managers have during the 6-hour period of observation. Second, the study explores which tasks the managers primarily perform, divided into eight categories of activities. Third, it is examined how the manager’s usage of time is divided among the individual tasks. The results of the above data can be used both to provide a comprehensive characterization of municipal first-line managers’ work and to illuminate differences between first-line managers from different occupational groups. The second question relates to current debate about the degree of professionalized management among the municipal first-line managers. In both the international and Danish management literature there has been established an ideal of having professional managers’ on all organizational levels, including first-line managers. This ideal is in contrast to a practice (especially in the municipal sector) where the first line managers often are included in the stipulated work norms and where, in some examples, explicit standards are set for what share of the manager’s working time should be used on management and what share should be used on participation in operational tasks. The main question is how the division between exercising leadership and participating in operational task is evident in first-line managers’ practice. Answering this question helps to illustrate and understand the degree of professionalism in terms of managers' usage of time.
Public management, first line management, structured observations