Why do managers do what they do

Available to spend in order to prosecute other

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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 they do, what they achieve and for 'making some- thing of themselves'. However, this subjective sense of freedom and responsibility contrasts sharply with concrete experience and the chronic uncertainty of attempting to affirm a sense of self. Consequently, people generally assuage their resulting anxieties by embracing and colluding in the very institutional routines which require and permit affirmation of a sense of self. This echoes Foucault's (1982) notion of 'sub- jection' - how the power/knowledge discourses of modern institutions and practices at the same time bestow 'freedom' and 'responsibility for closing off indeterminacy', demand 'accountabil- ity of the self in terms of the need to establish and confirm one's identity as a sovereign agent and furnish the means to authenticate and demon- strate this 'freedom' and 'responsibility'. This broad theme has
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  • Management, managerial work, Colin Hales

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