Why do managers do what they do

And woof of the organizational pohtics of i the milo

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and woof of the organizational pohtics of I the 'Milo' corporation. Similarly, Jackall (1989), Hannaway (1989), Smith (1990) and Watson (1994) have drawn, in considerable ethnographic detail, the connections between managers' work and the ambiguities, uncertainties, contradictions and 'moral mazes' of their immediate organ- izational milieu and processes of change within it. Another outcome has been a series of studies demonstrating links between managerial work and particular organizational processes or charact- eristics, such as language gimes (Silverman and Jones, 1976), role responsibilities and networks (Kotter, 1982), others' role! expectations (Ha'les, 1987), strategy and structure (Dann, 1991) and centralized versus decentralized organizational structures (Hales and Mustapha, forthcoming; Hales and Tamangani, 1996). Although all these studies offer robust and detailed accounts of specific factors shaping what particular managers do, this particularity is their
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338 C Hales main limitation. Once again, the commonalities between characteristics of managerial work identified in these studies and those identified in other studies are neither traced nor accounted for; rather, it is the distinctive character of man- agerial work in these particular settings which is deemed to require explanation. Again, the gen- eric features of managerial work are ignored or treated as self-evident, and it is variations which are treated as interesting and problematic. This assumption is also evident in the most systematic and many-layered account of how managerial work is shaped by its context: Stewart et al.'s (1994) comparative study of middle man- agers in Britain and Germany. They show how differences in managers' role expectations and work activities are the result of interactive effects between national culture and organizational struc- ture. Thus, German organizations which are flatter and more integrated, with less specialization by function and greater emphasis on impersonal procedures and technical controls give rise to managerial jobs with less in the way of formahzed role expectations, budgetary responsibility, con- cern for enlisting cooperation, direct supervision, choice over job roles and networking, but more involvement in technical tasks and desk work. All the wealth of detail and convincing explanation in the study, however, centres on the differences between British and German middle managers; similarities are neither highlighted nor accounted for. Yet, despite the almost exclusive emphasis on identifying variations and particularities in managerial work, one emergent outcome of these research studies has been a strengthening body of evidence on what managers in general do, the broad contours and features of which, notwith- standing some conceptual confusions and incon- sistencies of categories (Hales, 1986; Martinko and Gardner, 1985; Stewart, 1989), are reasonably discernible. Thus, there are three broad aspects of managerial work which appear to be common to the work of most managers: first, certain generic managerial activities or processes; second, key
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  • Management, managerial work, Colin Hales

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