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Why do managers do what they do

Interpretive schemes in the form of cognitive rules

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enable future managerial practices. Interpretive schemes in the form of cognitive rules constrain and enable what managers do in that, being required to operate within and draw upon those rules, certain practices become meaningful as 'managing'. In attempting to act in meaningful 'managerial' ways, mana!gers reaffirm or alter these cognitive rules, or shared meanings, which then both constrain and enable future managerial practices. Finally, norms; in the form of moral rules constrain and enable what managers do in that, by operating within and drawing upon these rules, certain practices are deemed legitimate as 'managing'. In attempting to act in legitimate 'managerial' ways, managers reaffirm or redefine these moral rules, which then both constrain and enable future managerial practices. For example, managers have budgets which are both available to spend in order to prosecute other activities and, at the same time, have to be spent, which becomes an activity in itself. Further, expenditure within that budget is accounted for in terms of particular categories which constrain its scope (what it cannot be used for) and prompt its possible deployment (what it could be used for). Finally, such expenditure confornis to and is prompted by conventions about which objects and processes of expenditure are admissable, (These relationships are summarized in Figure 1,) Systems Modalities Managerial agency (Practices) Distribution of resources Cognitive rules 'Faciiities': resources available to those engaged in: Morai ruies 'interactive Schemes': meanings available to those engaged 'Norms': legitimations available to those engaged I in: Managing as responsibility for bounded area of work activity and those who do it Deploying 'managerial' resources Engaging in meaningful 'managerial' actions Engaging in legitimate I 'managerial' I actions Figure 1. Systems, modatities and manageriat agency
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344 C. Hales The relative importance of resources, cognitive rules an(d moral rules in constraining and enabling managerial practices is likely to vary depending on the context of managerial work. In business organizations, for example, resources are likely to assume a relative importance, whereas in not-for- profit organizations, cognitive and moral rules may have greater relative weight. However, these are empirical questions which cannot be resolved a priori. More pertinent to the argument here is that commonalities in managerial practices across contexts must reflect the way in which all man- agers may draw upon and reproduce resources and rules which relate specifically to managerial responsibility per se. That all managers will do so may be accounted for by the inherently precari- ous nature of managerial responsibility. As Willmott (1994, 1997) argues, in market societies, subjectivity is constituted, by the institu- tions in which people participate and practices in which they routinely engage, as that of auto- nomous, free agents, responsible for their actions and its outcomes. Thus, identity and sense of self are open-ended: people are responsible for what
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