Why do managers do what they do

Substantive areas in which these activities are

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substantive areas in which these activities are undertaken; and third, characteristic features of these activities. The central activities in which, to varying degrees, all or most managers seem to engage are: acting as figurehead, representative or point of contact for a work unit; monitoring and disseminating information which is relevant to the work of the manager and the unit; networking, by developing and maintaining a web of contacts inside and outside the organization; negotiating, with subordinates, superiors, other managers and outsiders; planning and scheduhng work; allo- cating resources in the form of people, money, materials and equipment to different work activ- ities; directing and monitoring the work of sub- ordinates over time; human resource management in the form of recruitment, selection, training and appraisal; problem-solving and handling disturb- ances to work flow; innovating processes and products; and technical work relating to the man- agers' professional or functional specialism and the work of the unit. Whilst these activities or processes may be applied across a wide range of substantive areas, managers generally appear to devote a consid- erable proportion of time and effort to four in particular: day-to-day management of people; man- agement of information; day-to-day monitoring and maintenance of work processes; and non- managerial activities, such as assisting with tech- nical work. In short, managers appear to have a shared preoccupation with routine, day-to-day 'maintenance' of the work system and, in par- ticular, those who carry it out. According to the evidence, this work is charact- erized by: short, interrupted and fragmented activities; a need to react to events, problems and requirements of others; a preoccupation with the exigent, ad hoc and unforeseen, rather than the planned; a tendency for activities to be embedded in others rather than undertaken separately; a high level of verbal interaction, often face-to-face; a degree of tension, pressure and conflict in seek- ing to juggle competing demands; and a degree of choice and negotiation over the nature and boundaries of the managerial job and how it is undertaken. Therefore, in spite of the reluctance of individual research studies either to seek to identify the common features of managerial work or to regard these as in any way problematic, - collectively these studies have, in effect, generated a fairly consistent body of evidence from which these features can be discerned. Why these are the common features of managerial work is how- ever a question which has rarely been addressed and not satisfactorily answered in the research studies themselves which have, variously, been
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Why do Managers Do What They Do? 339 confined to description, unexplicated correlations, reductionist explanations in terms of individual choice or immediate situational demands or, at best, detailed but localized accounts of managers in a particular setting. In short, what is missing is an answer to the question 'why do managers do what they do?' which both recognizes the common
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