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Why do managers do what they do

Few generic managerial activities flow more directly

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Few generic managerial activities flow more directly from the ways in which 'responsibihty' is defined than that of acting as 'figurehead'. Being ostensibly 'in charge' both obliges and enables managers to account for and represent, or be the point of contact for, 'their' area of work activity; even, in a sense, to personify it in deaUng with the outside world and for internal ceremonial events. Located within an organizational system where the technological/communication resources which configure 'management information' coexist with rules about what constitutes 'management information' and how this information may and should be communicated, all managers, perforce, monitor, process and disseminate information. By selecting, constituting and disseminating information through these rules and resources, managers weave the very webs of information in which they are entangled, an entanglement which means that 'managing information' becomes a significant substantive area of managerial work. Located within a complex management divis- ion of labour (Hales, 1993) where the distribution of different power resources coexists with rules about what different aspects of the management process entail and which duties and prerogatives attach to them, managers are obliged to network and negotiate, drawing on those resources and rules available to them in order to establish and promote the meaning, duties and prerogatives of their areas of responsibility vis-d-vis those of others. Thus, for managers, negotiation is endemic because managerial responsibilities are consti- tuted in different and inherently uncertain ways: how responsibility for an area of work translates into specific contributions and outcomes is not fixed but has to be established through negotiation. Managers negotiate both as part of what they do and to establish what they should do. Only through networking - establishing and maintaining relation- ships with others, often conducted face-to-face - can managers sustain their power resources and the meaning and legitimacy of what they are held responsible for. Networking is the concrete manifestation of management as a social process (Reed, 1989). Allocating resources and the prospective allo- cation involved in planning/scheduling flow from the responsibility of all managers for a unit of 'capital', however small, within economic institu- tions. In drawing upon these material resources and adhering to the rules which relate to their allocation, managers reproduce these resources as 'capital' and particular forms of deployment as 'efficient' and legitimate. In contrast, controlling the work of subordinates and the more specific set of activities relating to human resource man- agement (such as selection, training, appraisal and so on) stem from managers' responsibility for a bounded labour process, including, crucially, those whose labour is part of that and whose compliance must be secured. This responsibility, in turn, is shaped by the intersection between the manager's location within a management system and their subordinates' location within the social organization of the labour process.
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