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Why do managers do what they do

Indeed it is not difficult tb identify pieces of evid

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Indeed, it is not difficult tb identify pieces of evid- ence which are not easily accounted for by the model. One recurrent finding from research, in- cluding Mintzberg's own (1973), for example, is that managerial work is characterized by frag- mentation, reactivity, interruption, brevity and the tendency for day-to-day exigent problems to drive out work on longer term projects and plans. Yet the model - with the person at the centre with his/her individual chosen style of managing, firmly located within the frame of a job, which is charact- erized by a chosen 'purpose', a distinct 'perspect- ive' and 'positions' in the form of strategies about how the job is done - suggests the manag;er as autonomous, proactive agent, choosing and con- trolling their pattern of work. Second, even if Mintzberg's scheme were able to accommodate all, or most, of the evidence, its theoretical power would remain limited. This is because it is pri- marily an integrative model - a way of configuring or ordering disparate pieces of evidence - rkther than an explanatory one. In short, it re-desqribes what managers do, rather' than explains why they do what they do. ; Yet, paradoxically, Mintzberg's framework does carry an, albeit implicit, explanatory account of managerial work, one where the strucjtural context in which managers operate plays a prob- lematic role. In this aptly-named 'rounded out' model, the manager's activities are driven[ pri- marily by the manager and his/her style, purposes, perspectives, strategies and agendas. The cohtext is merely the arena in which these core elements of the manager's work are acted out. The possi- bility that context may shape these core elernents is only intermittently recognized. Certainly the 'person' in the model is conceived as a largely free agent, whose acquired values, skills and experi- ences drive their managerial 'style', rather than one whose subjectivity has been shaped byj the wider social, and more immediate organizational, context. Mintzberg's discussion of the manager's 'frames' does recognize that these may be imposed, as well as chosen, but offers no indication of who or what imposes them and, indeed, suggests a rather stark dichotomy between either structural constraint or individual choice. Furtherniore, the logic of this is not followed through to recognize how 'franies' which are contextually shaped will ramify into
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342 C Hales 'agendas', where 'current issues' and 'work schedules' are also so shaped. Thus, in Mintz- berg's model, 'context' is simply something for the manager to confront and deal with, an arena in which agendas must be pursued. Any notion of the manager as a child of the organization is abandoned in favour of the notion that the organ- ization is the manager's adventure playground. The same problem attends the discussion of the different 'forms of managing' in which managers are said to engage. The implication is that manag- ing 'by information' is simply a matter of choice, rather than a question of the manager being obliged to negotiate a way through information systems and work structures designed by others;
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