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Why do managers do what they do

339 confined to description unexplicated correlations

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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 core of managerial work, as well as its manifold variations, and offers an appropriately general- ized account of these commonalities. What the next section will argue, however, is that general theories of management also do not satisfactorily answer this question. Management and managing: theories in search of evidence A key problem with most conceptual treatments of management and managing is their failure to connect with research evidence. Indeed, most of these theories, and, in particular, the earlier ones, are not so much theories about managing - in the sense of hypotheses about what managers do - as theories of management - what the management of work organizations and work processes gen- erally entails. However, although many of the proponents of these theories make no overt claims to be second guessing managers' behaviour - a point overlooked by some researchers of man- agerial work in their claims to have 'disproved' management theory (e.g. Mintzberg, 1973; Stewart, 1983) - they do lay claim to specifying managerial functions and tasks, with the implication that managers' work activities might be straightfor- wardly inferred as the inescapable consequences of having to discharge these functions and tasks. As a number of writers have pointed out (e,g. Knights and Willmott, 1986; Thomas, 1993), a key distinction has been between those who conceive management as the pursuit of unitary ends and those who conceive management as the pursuit of sectional ends, from which distinction flows the opposed conceptions of nianagers as neutral, rational professionals or managers as exploitative agents of capital. In both cases, however, the inference is that managers are impelled to act in ways dictated by the wider imperatives of rational technical efficiency or of capital accumulation. It is not too much of a caricature to label the theorists in the first of these groups as 'Fayolian', since all, in various ways, have taken their cue from Fayol's (1916) classic formulation of the five elements of management: forecasting/plaqning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and con- trolling. These elements not only resurfaced in other, early formulations, such as Barnard's (1938) 'executive tasks' and Gulick's (1937) POSD- CORB list of managerial functions, but also, later, in Drucker's (1974) 'dimensions' of managerial work, Shakman and Roberts' (1977) 'areas' of managerial work, Morse and Wagner's (1978) nine 'managerial roles' and Carroll and Gillen (1987), Hill (1979), Sweeney (1981) and Zaleznik's (1964) 'managerial functions'. Even Mintzberg (1973), who regarded his ten managerial roles as flowing unproblematically from the necessary
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339 confined to description unexplicated correlations...

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