myth of managment

Дата: 21.05.2016


Making decision is, om the one hand, one of the most fastinating
mamifestations of biological activity and, on the other hand, a matter
of terrifying for the whole of the human race. Althought this activity
is both fascinating and awesome, it is difficult to find a satisfactory
name for it in any of the common languages. In English we use terms as
manager, administrator, executive or simple decision maker. Yet each of
these terms fails someone to capture the true significance of the human
being. Because we need a label to conduct our discussion, I shall risk
choosing the term manager and being to say some things that will
generalize on this term beyond its ordinary usage in English.
The manager is the man who decides among alternative choises. He must
decide which choise he believes will lead to a certain desired
objectives. But his decision is not an abstract one, because it creates
a type of reality. The maneger is the man with the magic that enables
him to create in the world a state of affairs that would not have
occured except for him. We say that the manger is one who has the
authority to make such choices. He is also a person who has the
responsibility for the choises he has made in the sense that rest of
his fellow men may judge wheter he should be rewarded or punished for
his choises; he is the person who justifiably is the object of praise
or blame.
So broad a description of the manager makes managers of us all. It is
a common failing of the labels that language applies to things that
they may be generalized to encompass everything, as philosophers have
long recognized in the case of such labels as matter and mind. It takes
no great sophomoric talent to see that the world is basically matter
and that everything could be reduced thereto. Nor does it take any
great astuteness to see that everything a human being recognizes any
great astuteness to see that everything a human being recognizes as
natural reality os the product of some mind or collection of minds. So,
too, the label manager may become appropriately applied to practically
everything or at least to every human, once we describe the manager as
someone having the authority and responsibility for making choises. I
am interested in the broad aspect of desicion making, but for present
purposes I want to add one more stipulation that makes the label
manager less general. This is the stipulation that managerial activity
take place witthin a “system”: The manager must concern himself with
interrelated parts of a complex arganization of activities, and he is
responsible for the effectiveness of the whole system…
But even this further stipulation concerning the use of the label
manager permits us to discribe many activities as management. It is
true that in history of England and United States, the term management
has often been narrowed to mean tha managing of mean the managing of
industrial activities especially for the purpose of generating profit
for an enterprise. In the connection management is contrasted with
labor. In government actievities our use of term manager is often
labelled administrator, and the term executive is often used to
describe people who are given the legal authority to put into practice
the law of the land. All these activities, wheter they be at the level
of goverment or industry or education or health, or whatever, have a
common groind which we wish to explore. The common ground is the burden
of making choises about system improvement and the responsibility of
responding to the choises made in a human envirovement in which there
is bound to be opposition to what the manager has decided. Thus the
head of a labor union, the state legislator. The head of a goverment
agency, the foreman of a shop are all managers in our sense. So is a
man in his own family a manager; so is the captain of a football team.
Probably all of us some time or other in our lifes become managers
when, because of oppointment to a committee or because of our
political activities, we take on the authority and responsibility of
making decisions in complex system. Managing is an activity of which we
are all aware, and its consequences concern each one of us.
I said that managers must bear the burden of the burden of the
decisison they make. I could have added, in more optimistic tone, that
they enjoy the pleasure accompanying to make decisions. And certanly
many managers in today`s society do find a great deal of phychic
satisfaction in the role they play which society so clearly recognizes
as important and which it credits with a great deal of prestige.
Noe managing is a type of behavior, and since it`s a very important
type of behavior, you might expect that we know a great deal about it.
But we don`t at all. We could also explore the many ways in which
managers often think they manage, but observes of their behavior often
from them quite radically. The manager is frequently astonished to hear
sociologist`s description of his activities, which he believes he
himself knows so well, and he resent the inclination on the part of the
“detached” scientist to try to describe the activity that he performs.
Imagine an observes carefully trained to study such activities as bees
in a hive, or fish in a school, or birds in a flock, and suppose such a
student of nature becomes curious about the behavior of judges during a
trial. How might such a scientist describe what the jugde actually
does? He might learn a little bit from some of the reflective judges,
and perhaps a little bit more from the sociologist and other scientists
who have attempted to describe legal behavior, but he would find that
most of the activity remains a huge to the whole of humanity-a mystery
that no one has ever felt inclined to investigate in detail.
The whole activity of managing, importrant as it is for the human
race, is still largely an unknow aspect of the natural world. When man
detaches himself and tries to observe what kind of living animal he is,
finds that he knows very little about the things most important to him
and precious little about his role as a decision maker Few managers are
capable of describing how they reach their decision in a way that
someone else can understand; few can tell us how they feel about the
decisions once they have been made. Of course, despite our ignorance
about managerial phenomena, a great deal is written on the subject in
popular magazines and managerial journals. It appears that the less we
know about subject, the more we are inclined to write extensively about
it with great cinviction. Some writings describe the variuos rituals
folowed in organizations proir and posterior to the actual managerial
decision. But most of these description pay little attention to the
very puzzling question of when a decision actually occured and who made
it. A great deal is said about committee deliberations and other aspect
of organizational rationality that go into the making of a decision,
and the many checks and control that are exerted to determine whether
the decisions have been made properly. Much attention is paid to these
aspect of organizational decision making, because they show up on the
surface, so to speak. But the facts that a committee deliberated for
three hours and then a decision emerged do not tell us who made the
decision, how it was or when it was made. It might be added that the
verbal assertion of the committee often do not tell us what decision is
So there is a great mystery of the natural world: the who, when, how,
and what of man`s decision making.
But even if we were to succeed in discovering a great deal more than
we have about management, the result would be at best descriptive. It
would be merely the background of the basic problem before us, namely,
the question of how the manager should decide.
Am I right in claiming that we know so little about management? After
all, most of us are quite willing, even eager, to prise and complain.
We don`t hesitate to say that some men are better managers than others.
We are constantly criticizing our political leaders. Biographers are
accustomed to choose the most “outstanding” leaders of the age as the
subject of their texts. These leaders may be great political leaders,
leaders of industry, leaders of social movement, of religion, and so
on. What is the quality these men of success have that less successful
colleagues lack? Since we believe we can identify “successful” leaders,
surely we also believe we know a great deal about what a manager should
decide. For example, in the case of the President of the United States,
we are told in our school-boy text that we can readily recognize that
some of these Presidents were “great” and some of them far from great.
What is the quality of greatness that we are led to ascribe to some of
these presidents?
A ready answer is at hand-the succesful and great Presidents were
those who made decisions that today we clearly recognize to be correct,
and those who made these decions in the face of severe opposition. We
are led to believe that the activity of great presidents is a marvelous
example of succesful decisin making in large complex systems.
But the skeptics among us will find this answer quite unsatisfactory
as an explanation of what constites greatness in a Pesident. In the
first place, history has no record of what would have happened had the
opposition`s point of view succeeded or if serious modifications had
been made in the choises of the so-called great Presidents. What if the
Union had not been saved, or or our independence declared? History
seems only to have recorded the episodes that followed upon the
particular decision that was made and does vot provide us with an
analysis of event that might have occured if an alternative had been
More curios still is the implict that assumption that a successful
President made his great decision on the basis of his own particular
abilities. Since evidence is so often lacking that great Presidents of
the past had these abilities, there is a natural inclination on the
part of many of us to ascribe either determinism or randomness to the
activities of so-called successful managers. In the case of
determinism, we might argue that the events of the world occur by the
accidental conglomeration of many forces unknown to man these forces
produce “decision” that man in his innocence believes that he himself
makes. The decision of independence in 1776 was, according to this
view, simply the outgrowth of many complex human and physical
interrelationships. Those who adopt the idea of randomness simply add
to the physical determinism of events a random fluctuation of the sort
occuring in a roulette wheel or in the shuffling of cards. The would
then be willing to admit that other decision might have been made in
1776 or later, but that these decision would be very much like the
outcome of another spin of the roulette wheel. In either event, wheter
we choose to describe the world of decision making as determinism or as
randomness, we conclude that ascribing greatness to the decision makers
in Independence Hall would be a mistake unless one meant by greatness
some recognizable features of the determined or randomevents occuring
in the world. By analogy one might say that the man who spins the
roulette wheel is its “manager” who decides nothing about the outcome
of spins; a multitude of hidden physical forces determine where the
wheel will stop. Calling a President great is like calling the spinner
of a roulette wheel that happens to have a satisfactory result a great
This is certainly a crass and impolite way to describe the great
managerial minds of the past. Surely we can do more for their memories
than describe them as irrelevant aspects of the history of society. We
might try ro look into the story og their lives to find evidence that
they really had superior methods of deliberation. We might try to show
that they had the sort of brilliance and courage that creates an
ability to handle confusing pieces of information and to reach
approprite decisions. Perphaps the great manager is an extremely adept
information processor who can act so rapidly that he himself is not
even aware of the comparisons and computations he has made.
Indeed, this last is more or less the the popular image of the great
manager. For example, many scientists who advice politicians, corporate
msnsgers, and other decision makers often state that they cannot
possibly attempt to tell such men what decision should be made. At best
they can merely tell the decision maker about certain outcomes if the
decision are adopted. Thus the more among the advisers believe that
they have mo intent of ‘replacing’ the managers they advise. And yet
if these scientific advisers are capable of discering at least some
aspects of the managerial decision, what is it they luck? What are they
incapable of doing that the politician and corporate manager are so
succesful in accomplishning? What is this secret ingredient of the
great president of vorporations, universities, and countries that no
scientiat or ordinary man could ever hope to acquire?
The answer usually given is that the president has information about
many different aspects of the world and has ability to put these aspect
together in a way that no analysis could possibly do. In other words,
he has a vision of the whole system and can relate the effectiveness of
the parts to the parts effectiveness of the whole. The hidden secret of
the great manger, so goes the myth, is the ability to solve the
puzzling problems of whole systems that we have been discussing so far.
This answer is myth, because it is totally unsatisfactory to reasoning
of intellectually curious person. Are ‘great’ managers fantastically
high speed-data processors? Do great managerial minds outstrip any
machinery now on the market or contemplated for decades to come? From
what we know of the brain and its capabilities, the answer seems to be
no. Indeed, it is doubtful whweter the great manager in reaching
decisions uses very much of the information he has received from
various sources. It is also doubtful wheter the manager scans many of
the alternatives open to him…. We describe how the scientist, when he
comes to grips with the problems of decision making, discovers that
they can only be reperesented by fairly complicated mathematical
models. Even in fairly simple decision-making situations we have come
to learn how complicated is the problem of developing a sensible way of
using available information. It seems incredible that the so-called
succesful managers really have inbuilt models that are rich and
complicated enough to include the subtleties of large-scale systems.
Suppose for the moment we descend from the lofty heights of the
decision makers in Independence Hall and the White House and begin to
describe a very mundane and easily recognized managerial problem
cencerning the nember of tellers that should be available to customers
in a bank. All of us have experienced the annoyance of going into a
bank in a hurry and spending a leisurely but frustrating half hour
behind the wrong line. How should the manager decide on the allocation
of tellers at various times of the day?
This is fairly simple managerial problem amd its like is encountered
by thousands of middle managers every day. Furthermore, this problem
has been studied quite extensively in operation research and its
“solution” is often found in the elementary texts. The texts say that
the scientist should try to answer the managerial question by
considering both the inconvenience of the customers who wait in the
lines and the possible idle time of the tellers who wait at their
stations when no customers. Thus the “succesful” manager can be
identified in an objective way, and we need not take a poll of
greatness or lack thereof to ascertain wheter the manager has performed
well. The succesful manager will be someone who has properly balanced
the two costs of the operation of servicing customers in a bank: the
cost of waiting customers and the cost of idle tellers. He will insist
that the cost of a nimute`s waiting of a customer in a line must be
compared to a minute`s idle time of the teller. On the basis of this
comparison, together with suitable evidence conserning the arrival rate
of customers and the time service each customer, the succesful manager
will determine the policy concerning allocation of tellers to varios
stations during the day. Perhaps no one will feel inclined to write the
biography of so ordinary a man as the manager of a branch of a local
bank, but in any case if this manager decides according to the rational
methods just outlined, his biographer may at least be honest about his
Nevertheless, the analysis just outlined leaves much unanswered. For
example, an idle teller need not be idle while waiting at a station
where are no customers. Instead he may be occupied with other routine
matters requiring attention in the administration of the bank.
Consequently, if the manager can design the entire operation of his
bank’s many function properly, he may be able to decrease the cost of
idle time of professional who are servicing customers. If we look on
the othwer side of the picture, that is, the inconvenience to a
customer, we may find that in fact waiting in line is not an
inconvience at all if the customer happens to meet an acquaintance
there. Perhaps the manager should serve coffe and doughnuts to waiting
customers. Furthermore, if the manager could somehow or other hope to
control the behavior of his customers, he might be able to recognize
their arrivals in such a way that inconvenience costs are vastly
reduced. Add to these considerations other innovations that might be
introduced: For example, in many cases banks set up Express Windows to
handle customers who would normally have very low servoce times. Hence,
an overall average waiting time may not make senese if there are
different types of service tailored to the various needs of the
But then another, broader consideration occurs to us: Handling the
public’s financial matters by branch banking methods may be completely
wrong. Modern technology may of developing financial servicing methods
far cheaper for both bank and customer. After all, handling cash and
checks is an extremly awkward way for a person to acquire goods at a
price. With adequately designed information centers, the retail markets
need only input information about a customer purchase, and the
customer’s employers need only inputinformation about his income. Thus
every purchase would become simply a matter of centralized information
processing as woulod a man’s weekly or monthly paycheck. There would
therefore be no real need for any of us to carry money about and no
need to go to a bank and stand patintly in line. But this idea of
automated purchasing and income recording is followed by another
thought. We realize that any such automated finacial sysytem would
probably end in eliminating a number of clearical and managerial jobs.
Consequently we must examine the social problems of displaced personnel
and the need for retraining, otherwise total social costs of automated
banking might be far greater than the convenience gained by introducing
new technology.
Before we can decide whweter the manager of the branch bank is
performing “satisfactorily”, we must decide a much broader issue-wheter
the particular system that the manger operates is an appropriate one.
This question leads to deeper consideration concerning the potential of
modern technology and their inplications with respect to automation,
job training, and the future economics of many lives.


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