Why do managers do what they do

Perhaps the most systematic recent attempt to come to

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Perhaps the most systematic recent attempt to come to grips conceptually with the extant evidence on the generic features of managerial work is offered by Mintzberg (1994). He argues that sense can be made of this evidence by depicting the managerial job in terms of a series
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Why do Managers Do What They Do? 341 of ever-wider concentric spheres. At the centre is the person, whose values, experience, knowledge and competencies determines their style of manag- ing - how they do their job. The person is located within the frame of the job - how it is conceived by the manager in terms of its 'purpose' (what the manager is seeking to do), 'perspective' (the overall approach to the job) and 'positions' (specific strategies about how the job is done). According to Mintzberg, frames will vary in terms of the extent to which they are 'imposed' or chosen and their degree of 'sharpness' or fuzzi- ness. The frame of the manager's job is then set within an agenda comprising 'issues' (what is of current concern to the manager) and a 'schedule' (how the manager allocates their time). Taken together, the person, frame and agenda contribute, in Mintzberg's analysis, the 'core' of the manager's job. This core is then set within a three-layered context: 'inside' (the unit being managed), 'within' (the rest of the organization, over whom the manager has no formal authority) and 'outside' (the environment of the organiza- tion, including other organizations). Within these inner and outside contexts, managers 'manage' (i.e. evoke action on the part of others) in three ways: by information, evoking action in others indirectly by 'communicating' (collecting and dis- seminating information) and 'controlling' (develop- ing systems, designing structures and imposing directives); through people, evoking actions in others directly by 'leading' (at the individual, group and unit level) and 'linking' (influencing outside the unit and handling influence exerted upon the unit) and by action or direct involve- ment in doing things both 'inside' (handling internal projects and problems) and 'outside' (doing deals and negotiating). All these different elements fit, logically and pictorially, into a model in which the managerial job is 'rounded out'. The model has both conceptual elegance and, as Mintzberg shows, a capacity to accommodate some of the extant evidence on managerial work. However, this amenability to the evidence is a weakness as well as a strength. First, there is a methodological problem in asserting generally, as Mintzberg does, that what managers do is now 'known', constructing a framework and then illus- trating that framework by recourse to some of the evidence, rather than taking the whole body of evidence as the point of departure and developing a framework capable of handling all of it. There remains the possibility that there is evidence which either does not fit or disconfirms the rnodel.
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