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The Processes of Organization and Management

A unifying framework for thinking about processes — or sequences of tasks and activities — that provides an integrated, dynamic picture of organizations and managerial behavior.

  • Organizational Structure

essay about organization and management

Managers today are enamored of processes. It’s easy to see why. Many modern organizations are functional and hierarchical; they suffer from isolated departments, poor coordination, and limited lateral communication. All too often, work is fragmented and compartmentalized, and managers find it difficult to get things done. Scholars have faced similar problems in their research, struggling to describe organizational functioning in other than static, highly aggregated terms. For real progress to be made, the “proverbial ‘black box,’ the firm, has to be opened and studied from within.” 1

Processes provide a likely solution. In the broadest sense, they can be defined as collections of tasks and activities that together — and only together — transform inputs into outputs. Within organizations, these inputs and outputs can be as varied as materials, information, and people. Common examples of processes include new product development, order fulfillment, and customer service; less obvious but equally legitimate candidates are resource allocation and decision making.

Over the years, there have been a number of process theories in the academic literature, but seldom has anyone reviewed them systematically or in an integrated way. Process theories have appeared in organization theory, strategic management, operations management, group dynamics, and studies of managerial behavior. The few scholarly efforts to tackle processes as a collective phenomenon either have been tightly focused theoretical or methodological statements or have focused primarily on a single type of process theory. 2

Yet when the theories are taken together, they provide a powerful lens for understanding organizations and management:

First, processes provide a convenient, intermediate level of analysis. Because they consist of diverse, interlinked tasks, they open up the black box of the firm without exposing analysts to the “part-whole” problems that have plagued earlier research. 3 Past studies have tended to focus on either the trees (individual tasks or activities) or the forest (the organization as a whole); they have not combined the two. A process perspective gives the needed integration, ensuring that the realities of work practice are linked explicitly to the firm’s overall functioning. 4

Second, a process lens provides new insights into managerial behavior. Most studies have been straightforward descriptions of time allocation, roles, and activity streams, with few attempts to integrate activities into a coherent whole. 5 In fact, most past research has highlighted the fragmented quality of managers’ jobs rather than their coherence. A process approach, by contrast, emphasizes the links among activities, showing that seemingly unrelated tasks — a telephone call, a brief hallway conversation, or an unscheduled meeting — are often part of a single, unfolding sequence. From this vantage point, managerial work becomes far more rational and orderly.

My aim here is to give a framework for thinking about processes, their impacts, and the implications for managers. I begin at the organizational level, reviewing a wide range of process theories and grouping them into categories. The discussion leads naturally to a typology of processes and a simple model of organizations as interconnected sets of processes. In the next section, I examine managerial processes; I consider them separately because they focus on individual managers and their relationships, rather than on organizations. I examine several types of managerial processes and contrast them with, and link them to, organizational processes, and identify their common elements. I conclude with a unifying framework that ties together the diverse processes and consider the implications for managers.

Organizational Processes

Scholars have developed three major approaches to organizational processes. They are best considered separate but related schools of thought because each focuses on a particular process and explores its distinctive characteristics and challenges. The three categories are (1) work processes, (2) behavioral processes, and (3) change processes (see “Three Approaches to Organizational Processes”).

Work Processes

The work process approach, which has roots in industrial engineering and work measurement, focuses on accomplishing tasks. It starts with a simple but powerful idea: organizations accomplish their work through linked chains of activities cutting across departments and functional groups. These chains are called processes and can be conveniently grouped into two categories: (1) processes that create, produce, and deliver products and services that customers want, and (2) processes that do not produce outputs that customers want, but that are still necessary for running the business. I call the first group “operational processes” and the second group “administrative processes.” New product development, manufacturing, and logistics and distribution are examples of operational processes, while strategic planning, budgeting, and performance measurement are examples of administrative processes.

Operational and administrative processes share several characteristics. Both involve sequences of linked, interdependent activities that together transform inputs into outputs. Both have beginnings and ends, with boundaries that can be defined with reasonable precision and minimal overlap. And both have customers, who may be internal or external to the organization. The primary differences between the two lie in the nature of their outputs. Typically, operational processes produce goods and services that external customers consume, while administrative processes generate information and plans that internal groups use. For this reason, the two are frequently considered independent, unrelated activities, even though they must usually be aligned and mutually supportive if the organization is to function effectively. Skilled supply chain management, for example, demands a seamless link between a company’s forecasting and logistics processes, just as successful new product development rests on well-designed strategy formation and planning processes.

The work processes approach is probably most familiar to managers. It draws heavily on the principles of the quality movement and reengineering. 6 Both focus on the need to redesign processes to improve quality, cut costs, reduce cycle times, or otherwise enhance operating performance. Despite these shared goals, the two movements are strikingly similar on some points, but diverge on others.

The similarities begin with the belief that most existing work processes have grown unchecked, with little rationale or planning, and are therefore terribly inefficient. Hammer, for example, has observed: “Why did we design inefficient processes? In a way, we didn’t. Many of our procedures were not designed at all; they just happened. … The hodgepodge of special cases and quick fixes was passed from one generation of workers to the next.” 7 The result, according to one empirical study of white-collar processes, is that value-added time (the time in which a product or service has value added to it, as opposed to waiting in a queue or being reworked to fix problems caused earlier) is typically less than 5 percent of total processing time. 8

To eliminate inefficiencies, both movements suggest that work processes be redesigned. In fact, both implicitly equate process improvement with process management. They also suggest the use of similar tools, such as process mapping and data modeling, as well as common rules of thumb for identifying improvement opportunities. 9 First, flow charts are developed to show all the steps in a process; the process is then made more efficient by eliminating multiple approvals and checkpoints, finding opportunities to reduce waiting time, smoothing the hand-offs between departments, and grouping related tasks and responsibilities. 10 At some point, “process owners” with primary responsibility for leading the improvement effort are also deemed necessary. Their role is to ensure integration and overcome traditional functional loyalties; for this reason, relatively senior managers are usually assigned the task. 11

The differences between the two movements lie in their views about the underlying nature and sources of process change. The quality movement, for the most part, argues for incremental improvement. 12 Existing work processes are assumed to have many desirable properties; the goal is to eliminate unnecessary steps and errors while preserving the basic structure of the process. Improvements are continuous and relatively small scale. Reengineering, by contrast, calls for radical change. 13 Existing work processes are regarded as hopelessly outdated; they rely on work practices and a division of labor that take no account of modern information technology.

For example, the case management approach, in which “individuals or small teams … perform a series of tasks, such as the fulfillment of a customer order from beginning to end, often with the help of information systems that reach throughout the organization,” was not economically viable until the arrival of powerful, inexpensive computers and innovative software. 14 For this reason, reengineering focuses less on understanding the details of current work processes and more on “inventing a future” based on fundamentally new processes. 15

Perhaps the most dramatic difference between the two approaches lies in the importance they attach to control and measurement. Quality experts, drawing on their experience with statistical process control in manufacturing, argue that well-managed work processes must be fully documented, with clearly defined control points. 16 Managers can improve a process, they believe, only if they first measure it with accuracy and assure its stability. 17 After improvement, continuous monitoring is required to maintain the gains and ensure that the process performs as planned. Reengineering experts, on the other hand, are virtually silent about measurement and control. They draw on a different tradition, information technology, that emphasizes redesign rather than control.

Insights for Managers. The work processes perspective has led to a number of important insights for managers. It provides an especially useful framework for addressing a common organizational problem: fragmentation, or the lack of cross-functional integration. Many aspects of modern organizations make integration difficult, including complexity, highly differentiated subunits and roles, poor informal relationships, size, and physical distance. 18 Integration is often improved by the mere acknowledgment of work processes as viable units of analysis and targets of managerial action. 19 Charting horizontal work flows, for example, or following an order through the fulfillment system are convenient ways to remind employees that the activities of disparate departments and geographical units are interdependent, even if organization charts, with their vertical lines of authority, suggest otherwise.

In addition, the work processes perspective provides new targets for improvement. Rather than focusing on structures and roles, managers address the underlying processes. An obvious advantage is that they closely examine the real work of the organization. The results, however, have been mixed, and experts estimate that a high proportion of these programs have failed to deliver the expected gains.

My analysis suggests several reasons for failure. Most improvement programs have focused exclusively on process redesign; the ongoing operation and management of the reconfigured processes have usually been neglected. Yet even the best processes will not perform effectively without suitable oversight, coordination, and control, as well as occasional intervention. In addition, operational processes have usually been targeted for improvement, while their supporting administrative processes have been overlooked. Incompatibilities and inconsistencies have arisen when the information and plans needed for effective operation were not forthcoming. A few companies have used the work processes approach to redefine their strategy and organization. The most progressive have blended a horizontal process orientation with conventional vertical structures. 20

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Behavioral Processes

The behavioral process approach, which has roots in organization theory and group dynamics, focuses on ingrained behavior patterns. These patterns reflect an organization’s characteristic ways of acting and interacting; decision-making and communication processes are examples. The underlying behavior patterns are normally so deeply embedded and recurrent that they are displayed by most organizational members. They also have enormous staying power. As Weick observed, behavioral processes are able to “withstand the turnover of personnel as well as some variation in the actual behaviors people contribute.” 21

All behavioral processes share several characteristics. They are generalizations, distilled from observations of everyday work and have no independent existence apart from the work processes in which they appear. This makes them difficult to identify but explains their importance. Behavioral processes profoundly affect the form, substance, and character of work processes by shaping how they are carried out. They are different, however, from organizational culture because they reflect more than values and beliefs. Behavioral processes are the sequences of steps used for accomplishing the cognitive and interpersonal aspects of work. New product development processes, for example, may have roughly similar work flows yet still involve radically different patterns of decision making and communication. Often, it is these underlying patterns that determine the operational process’s ultimate success or failure. 22

Next I discuss three categories of behavioral processes, selected for their representativeness and rich supporting literature: decision-making, communication, and organizational learning processes. All involve the collection, movement, and interpretation of information, as well as forms of interpersonal interaction. In most cases, the associated behaviors are learned informally, through socialization and on-the-job experience, rather than through formal education and training programs.

Decision-Making Processes. Of all behavioral processes, decision making has been the most carefully studied. The roots go back to the research and writings of Chester Barnard and Herbert Simon, who argued that organizational decision making was a distributed activity, extending over time, involving a number of people. 23 Because it was a process rather than a discrete event, a critical management task was shaping the environment of decision making to produce desired ends. This, in itself, is still a surprising insight for many managers. All too often, they see decision making as their personal responsibility, rather than as a shared, dispersed activity that they must orchestrate and lead. 24

These early writings spawned a vast outpouring of research on decision making; eventually they coalesced into the field of strategic process research. 25 One group focused on the structure of decision-making processes: their primary stages, and whether stages followed one another logically and in sequence or varied over time with the type of decision. 26 The goal was a model of the decision process, replete with flow charts and time lines, that mapped the sequence of steps in decision making and identified ideal types. For the most part, the results of these studies have been equivocal. Efforts to produce a simple linear flow model of decision making — in the same way that work processes can be diagrammed using process flow charts — have had limited success. Witte, for example, studied the purchase process for new computers and found that very few decisions — 4 of 233 — corresponded to a standard, five-phase, sequential process. He concluded that simultaneous rather than sequenced processes were the norm: “We believe that human beings cannot gather information without in some way developing alternatives. They cannot avoid evaluating these alternatives immediately, and in doing this, they are forced to a decision. This is a package of operations.” 27 Mintzberg et al. and Nutt, in their studies of strategic decision making, found it equally difficult to specify a simple sequence of steps. 28 After developing general models of the process, they identified a number of distinct paths through them, each representing a different type or style of decision making.

A second group of scholars adopted a more focused approach. Each studied a particular kind of decision, usually involving large dollar investments, to identify the constituent activities, subprocesses, and associated management roles and responsibilities, as well as the contextual factors shaping the process. Much of this research has examined the resource allocation process, with studies of capital budgeting, foreign investments, strategic planning, internal corporate venturing, and business exit. 29 This research has led to two important insights:

First, it has forced scholars to acknowledge the simultaneous, multilevel quality of decision processes. While sequential stages can be specified, they are incomplete as process theories and must be supplemented by detailed descriptions of the interaction of activities, via subprocesses, across organizational levels and through time. Bower, for example, identified three major components of the resource allocation process — definition (the development of financial goals, strategies, and product-market plans), impetus (the crafting, selling, and choice of projects), and determination of context (the creation of structures, systems, and incentives guiding the process) — and then went on to describe the linkage among these activities and the interdependent roles of corporate, divisional, and middle managers. 30 A simple stages model was unable to capture the richness of the process: the range of interlinked activities, with reciprocal impacts, that were unfolding at multiple organizational levels. This finding has obvious implications for managers because it suggests that effective resource allocation — as well as most other types of decision making — requires attention to the perspectives and actions that are unfolding simultaneously above and below one’s level in the organization.

Second, this body of research focused attention on the way that managers shape and influence decision processes. By describing the structural and strategic context — the rules by which the game is played, including the organization’s goals, values, and reward systems — and showing how it is formed through actions and policies, scholars have demonstrated how senior managers are able to have a pronounced impact on decisions made elsewhere in the organization. While behavioral processes like decision making have great autonomy and persistence, they can, according to this line of research, be shaped and directed by managerial action.

Another stream of research has explored the quality of decision making. Scholars have studied flawed decisions to better understand their causes, examined the factors supporting speedy decision making, and contrasted the effectiveness of comprehensive and narrow decision processes. 31 These studies have noted certain distinctive problems that arise because organizational decision making is a collective effort. Janis, for example, citing foreign policy debacles such as the Bay of Pigs, noted that when members of a decision-making group want to preserve social cohesion and strive for unanimity, they may engage in self-censorship, overoptimism, and stereotyped views of the enemy, causing them to override more realistic assessments of alternatives. 32 However, certain techniques that introduce conflict and dissent, such as devil’s advocacy and dialectical inquiry, have been found to overcome these problems in both controlled experiments and real-world situations. 33

After the Bay of Pigs fiasco, President Kennedy explicitly reformed the national security decision-making process to include devil’s advocacy and dialectical inquiry, and used both techniques to great effect during the Cuban Missile Crisis. 34 Similarly, Bourgeois and Eisenhardt found that successful, speedy decision making relied on rational approaches, the development of simultaneous multiple alternatives, and the use of up-to-date operating information to form judgments. 35 For managers, the implications of this line of research should be obvious: the need to introduce healthy conflict and competing perspectives to ensure more effective, timely decision making.

Together, these studies have shown that decision-making processes are lengthy, complex, and slow to change. They involve multiple, often overlapping stages, engage large numbers of people at diverse levels, suffer from predictable biases and perceptual filters, and are shaped by the administrative, structural, and strategic context. Their effectiveness can be judged, using criteria such as speed, flexibility, range of alternatives considered, logical consistency, and results, and they are subject to managerial influence and control. Perhaps most important, these studies have shown that decision making, like other behavioral processes, can be characterized along a few simple dimensions that managers can review and alter if needed. A company’s decision-making processes may be slow or fast, generate few or many alternatives, rely primarily on operating or financial data, engage few or many organizational levels, involve consensual or hierarchical resolution of conflicts, and be tolerant of or closed to divergent opinions.

Communication Processes. Social psychologists and sociologists have long studied communication processes, dating back to the original human relations experiments at the Hawthorne Works of Western Electric, the pioneering studies of Kurt Lewin, and the efforts of the National Training Laboratories to establish the field of organizational development. 36 The field currently covers a broad array of processes and interactions, including face-to-face, within-group, and intergroup relationships.

The efficacy of these relationships invariably rests on the quality and richness of interpersonal communication and information processing activities: how individuals and groups share data, agree on agendas and goals, and iron out conflicts as they go about their work. 37 These processes frequently become patterned and predictable. But because they are embedded in everyday work flows, they are not always immediately apparent. Like decision-making processes, they reflect unconscious assumptions and routines and can often be identified only after repeated observations of individuals and groups. Moreover, the underlying processes are quite subtle, as Schein has observed:

“Many formulations of communication depict it as a simple problem of transfer of information from one person to another. But … the process is anything but simple, and the information transferred is often highly variable and complex. We communicate facts, feelings, perceptions, innuendoes, and various other things all in the same ‘simple’ message. We communicate not only through the spoken and written word but through facial expressions, gestures, physical posture, tone of voice, timing of when we speak, what we do not say, and so on.” 38

Because of these complexities, communication processes are best characterized along multiple dimensions. Schein has provided a relatively complete set of categories, including frequency and duration, direction, triggers and flow, style, and level and depth. 39 Some patterns can be captured through the tools of communication engineering, which model communication networks and present a picture of a group’s information linkages and flows in the same way that work processes are often mapped. 40

A few studies have pursued an intermediate level of analysis, combining activities into subprocesses. These subprocesses fall into two distinct categories: those needed for task management and work accomplishment and those for building the group and maintaining its relationships. 41 Examples of the first include information giving and seeking and opinion giving and seeking, and examples of the second include harmonizing and compromising. Several scholars have used these categories to develop simple self-assessment forms for evaluating group processes and have then linked the results to group effectiveness. 42

Together, these studies provide a relatively complete set of categories for diagnosing and evaluating communication processes. Like decision-making processes, they can be characterized along a few simple dimensions. Here, too, managers can use the dimensions to profile their organizations and identify areas needing improvement. The nature, direction, and quality of discussion flows are important, as are the interrelationships among group members, their stances toward one another, and the tenor and tone of group work.

Organizational Learning Processes. A wide range of scholars, including organizational theorists, social psychologists, manufacturing experts, and systems thinkers have studied organizational learning processes. 43 There is broad agreement that organizational learning is essential to organizational health and survival, involves the creation and acquisition of new knowledge, and rests ultimately on the development of shared perspectives (often called “mental models”). Most scholars have described these activities abstractly, without trying to group or categorize them. But there are persistent underlying patterns. The way an organization approaches learning is as deeply embedded as its approaches to decision making and communication. 44

Four broad processes are involved: knowledge acquisition, interpretation, dissemination, and retention. In each area, companies appear to rely on relatively few approaches that fit their cultures and have been adapted to their needs. Over time, these approaches become institutionalized as the organization’s dominant mode or style of learning. According to Nevis et al.: “Basic assumptions about the culture lead to learning values and investments that produce a different learning style from a culture with a different pattern of values and investments.” 45

Knowledge, for example, may be acquired in many ways. Each approach involves distinctive tools, systems, and behaviors and is associated with a particular learning style. The underlying processes differ accordingly. Companies like DuPont have focused their efforts on brainstorming and creativity techniques; others, like Boeing and Microsoft, have become adept at learning from their own internal manufacturing and development experiences. AT&T and Xerox have gained considerable skill at benchmarking competitors and world leaders; others, like Royal Dutch/Shell, have used hypothetical planning exercises to stimulate learning. Similar distinctions exist for the processes of knowledge interpretation, dissemination, and retention. Retention, for example, may be through written records or tacitly understood routines, and the organization’s memory may be accessed by a range of indexing and retrieval processes. 46

Organizational learning processes thus share many of the same characteristics as decision-making and communication processes. Activity is distributed throughout the organization, unfolds over time, involves people in diverse departments and positions, and rests on a few critical subprocesses or routines. It too is “an organizational process rather than an individual process” and can be classified into distinctive modes or styles. 47 In fact, when combined together, the three behavioral processes are often complementary and synergistic.

They interact in predictable ways, producing clusters of characteristics that are mutually reinforcing.

In the microcomputer industry, for example, the most effective firms were able to make quick decisions. 48 Their ability to do so rested on several mutually reinforcing activities. Decision making was rational and analytical, based on multiple alternatives and real-time operating information. Communication was open and wide ranging, with discussions that relied on shared ideas, pooled information, and the judgment of a few trusted counselors, but vested final authority with the CEO. Organizational learning was guided primarily by external scanning and search. There is an important message here for managers. Just as administrative and operational processes must be complementary and supportive, so too must behavioral processes.

Unfortunately, managers frequently assume that restructuring or reengineering work processes will be accompanied by simultaneous, virtually automatic changes in behavior. Such changes are usually considered essential for successful transformations. 49 But because they reflect deeper forces, these behaviors normally remain in place unless the underlying processes are tackled explicitly. Managers must recognize that successful improvement programs require explicit attention to the organization’s characteristic patterns of decision making, communication, and learning. Tools for stimulating change include simulations, exercises, observations, and coaching; each may be applied at the individual and organizational levels.

Change Processes

The change process approach, which has roots in strategic management, organization theory, social psychology, and business history, focuses on sequences of events over time. These sequences, called processes, describe how individuals, groups, and organizations adapt, develop, and grow. Change processes are explicitly dynamic and intertemporal. Unlike the relatively static portraits of work and behavioral processes, they attempt “to catch reality in flight.” 50 Examples of change processes include the organizational life cycle and Darwinian evolution.

All change processes share several characteristics. They are longitudinal and dynamic, designed to capture action as it unfolds, with three components always present: “a set of starting conditions, a functional end-point, and an emergent process of change.” 51 Change processes therefore answer the question, “How did x get from here to there?” Often, a story or narrative is required to provide coherence and explain the underlying logic of the process. 52 Most descriptions of change also divide time into broad stages or phases. Each stage consists of groups of activities aimed at roughly similar goals, and the transition between stages may be smooth or turbulent. 53

Studies of change have focused on four broad areas: creation, growth, transformation, and decline. 54 Each period represents a critical stage in the individual or organizational life cycle, and, over time, the life cycle has become the organizing framework for the field. Scholars remain divided, however, about the pattern and flow of events over time. The primary question is whether change processes proceed through incremental steps — what Gersick has called “a slow stream of small mutations” — or through alternating periods of stability and revolutionary change. 55 Ultimately, the choice is between traditional Darwinian theories and those based on a newer, punctuated equilibrium framework. While the subject is still under debate, evidence supporting the latter view is accumulating rapidly. 56

Whatever their focus, change processes fall into two broad categories: autonomous and induced. Autonomous processes have a life of their own; they proceed because of an internal dynamic. The entity or organism evolves naturally and of its own course. In some cases, the direction of change is preordained and inevitable. In others, transitional periods create flux, and the entity may evolve in multiple, unexpected ways. Processes in the former category include an organization’s evolution from informal, entrepreneurial start-up to a more structured, professionally managed firm. Processes in the second category include organizational and industry shifts that result from revolutionary changes in technology. 57 In both cases, Selznick has observed, managers must be attentive to the path and timing of development: “Certain types of problems seem to characterize phases of an organization’s life-history. As these problems emerge, the organization is confronted with critical policy decisions.” 58 Appropriate action depends, in large part, on fitting behavior to the conditions and requirements of the current stage. 59 An obvious example is knowing when to introduce policies, procedures, and systems into a loosely knit, entrepreneurial firm. Too early, and growth may be stifled; too late, and the organization may already have spun out of control.

Unlike autonomous processes, induced processes do not occur naturally but must be created. All planned change efforts therefore fall into this category. While they are triggered in different ways, such efforts, once underway, unfold in a predictable sequence. Each step is accompanied by distinctive challenges and tasks, with striking parallels in different theorists’ descriptions. Induced change processes are commonly divided into three basic stages. 60 The first is a period of questioning, when the current state is assessed and energy applied to dislodge accepted patterns. The second stage is one of flux, when old ways are partially suspended and new approaches are tested and developed. The third is a period of consolidation, when new attitudes and behaviors become institutionalized and widely adopted. Again, it is critical that managers develop actions appropriate to the current stage and know when it is time to shift to a new stage. Examples of three-part theories include Beckhard and Harris’s present state, transition state, and future state; Lewin’s and Schein’s unfreezing, changing, and refreezing; and Tichy and Devanna’s awakening, mobilizing, and reinforcing. 61

We can thus classify change processes on a few simple dimensions: they may be autonomous or induced, and involve slow incremental evolution or alternating periods of stability and revolutionary change. Complete process descriptions also include the precise sequence, duration, and timing of stages, as well as the nature and number of activities and participants at each stage. 62

A Recap of Organizational Processes

The three major approaches to organizational processes have much in common (see “An Organizational Processes Framework”). Each views processes as collections of activities, involving many people, that unfold over time. Each involves repeated, predictable sequences or patterns. And each takes a holistic approach, grouping individual activities and decisions in coherent, logical ways. The latter quality is especially important because it suggests that processes provide managers with a powerful integrating device, a way of meshing specialized, segmented tasks with larger organizational needs.

Despite these similarities, the three types of processes capture different organizational phenomena and are best viewed as complementary pieces of a larger puzzle. They can, in fact, be combined into a single framework that includes both cross-sectional and dynamic elements. (For a unified portrait of organizations as collections and reflections of processes, see “A Diagram of Organizational Processes.”)

A process view of organizations offers several advantages. First, it provides a disaggregated model of the firm, but does so in ways that make the analysis of implementation more tractable and explicit. Put another way, if organizations are “systems for getting work done,” 63 processes provide a fine-grained description of the means. Second, the diagram suggests the intimate connections among different types of processes and the futility of analyzing them in isolation. It is extraordinarily difficult — and, at times, impossible — to understand or alter a single process without first taking account of others on which it depends. 64

Perhaps most important for managers, a process view of organizations changes the focus of both analysis and action. All too often, managers’ first response to problems is to pin responsibility on an individual or department. Yet because processes shape the vast majority of organizational activities, they are frequently the true sources of difficulty. Accountability must therefore shift to a higher level: to those with wide enough spans of control to oversee entire processes. This principle has long been a staple of the quality movement, where it has been applied to operational processes. The preceding arguments suggest that managers need to be equally attentive to administrative, behavioral, and change processes. As a general rule, responsibility for these processes must shift to senior members of the firm.

Approaches to organization design must change as well. Most texts on the subject focus on tasks and structures, with detailed discussions of roles, positions, levels, and reporting relationships. 65 They say relatively little about processes or about how the work actually gets done. The implicit argument seems to be that organization design is largely a matter of architecture: drawing the right boxes and connecting them appropriately. A process perspective suggests that far more attention should be paid to organizational functioning, and that design efforts should begin by attending to processes and only later should shift to the structures needed to accommodate them.

Finally, this approach suggests that managers are continually enmeshed in organizational processes. The result is a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, managers are constrained by the processes they face, forced to work within their boundaries and preestab-lished steps to get things done. On the other hand, they try to influence and alter these processes to gain advantage. This continual shifting from “statesman” to “gamesman” is what makes management such a challenging task. 66 It also suggests another, quite different use of the word processes.

Managerial Processes

Management is often described as the art of getting things done. But because organizations are complex social institutions with widely distributed responsibility and resources, unilateral action is seldom sufficient. 67 Managers therefore spend the bulk of their time working with, and through, other people. 68 They face a range of challenges: how to get the organization moving in the desired direction, how to gain the allegiance and support of critical individuals, and how to harmonize diverse group interests and goals. In the broadest sense, these are questions of process: they involve how things are done, rather than the content or substance of ideas or policies.

The mechanics of implementation thus lie at the heart of this definition of processes. The focus is on the way that managers orchestrate activities and events and engage others in tasks so that desired ends are realized (see “Descriptions of Managerial Processes”). Action is the key, and process is implicitly equated with skilled professional practice. Not surprisingly, this use of the term appears in a wide range of professions where there is need for artistry, subjectivity, and careful discriminations. Architects, for example, engage in the design process; scientists employ the scientific process; and psychologists engage in the counseling process. Like management, each activity involves complex, contingent choices about how best to transform intentions into results.

Managerial processes, however, involve additional complications. Many scholars agree that “organizations … are fundamentally political entities,” 69 composed of diverse groups with their own interests that come into conflict over agendas and resources. 70 In such settings, successful managers must align and harmonize competing interests, while cultivating commitment and motivation. Skillful managers therefore spend relatively little time issuing ultimatums or making big decisions. Rather, they engage in an extraordinary number of fragmented activities, tackling pressing issues or small pieces of larger problems. 71 Often, the process requires building and using interpersonal networks, as well as “skillful maneuvering” to overcome political obstacles. 72

The challenge for managers, then, is to shape, prod, and direct their organizations, through words and deeds, so that larger goals are realized. The approaches they use — which were once the subject of courses on administrative practice — are managerial processes. They have an underlying logic that is easily missed when scholars focus on taxonomies of discrete tasks and activities, rather than unifying threads. 73 Moreover, because these processes require flexibility and a sensitivity to context, they seldom unfold in the same set sequence or maintain the same character on every occasion. 74

Empirical studies of managerial processes fall into two broad categories. One group has taken an anthropological approach focusing on a single manager in action, with vivid descriptions of his or her behavior. Case studies in business policy fall into this category, as do studies by insiders or journalists who have gained unusual access to a company. 75 The associated processes have usually been idiosyncratic and highly individualistic, reflecting the distinctive character of the managers studied. Such nuanced, textured descriptions provide invaluable insight into the processes of management but permit few generalizations.

A second group of empirical studies, usually by scholars, has sought broader conclusions. Typically, they have reviewed the time commitments and activities of a few managers, grouped them into categories according to purposes and goals, and then applied a process perspective. Three broad processes have dominated this literature: direction setting, negotiating and selling, and monitoring and control.

Direction-Setting Processes

Direction setting, the most widely recognized managerial activity, has appeared, in some form, in most empirical studies of managerial work. 76 It involves charting an organization’s course and then mobilizing support and ensuring alignment with stated goals. Kotter’s description of how general managers met this challenge is representative. 77 All the managers he studied began by developing an agenda, collecting information from a wide range of sources, and then assimilating it and forming a few broad thrusts or general goals. They then worked hard to frame messages, using diverse communication media and opportunities, to ensure that members of the organization developed a shared understanding of the new objectives. Often, these activities occurred within the broad parameters of the organization’s planning or goal-setting process, although much work was informal and unstructured, tailored to the unique skill of the manager and the distinctive demands of the situation. Gabarro and Simons reached similar conclusions in their studies of the “taking charge” process of new executives, where individualized managerial action was coupled with established organizational processes. 78

Together, these empirical studies have shown that direction-setting processes have several components: learning about the organization and its problems through a broad range of interactions, assessments, and continued probing; framing an agenda to be pursued during the manager’s tenure through conscious reflection and intuitive experience; and aligning individuals through communication, motivation, rewards, and punishments, often using new or established organizational processes. Critical process choices that the manager makes include which information sources to tap, which communication media and supporting systems to emphasize, and which approaches to use in framing, testing, and revising initiatives.

Negotiating and Selling Processes

Once the manager sets a direction, negotiating and selling processes are necessary for getting the job done. They work in two directions, horizontally and vertically. Because horizontal flows link the activities of most departments, employees frequently rely on individuals outside their work groups for essential services and information. 79 Formal authority is normally lacking in these relationships, and managers must use other means to gain cooperation. This usually requires building a network of contacts and then working with the appropriate individuals to negotiate the “terms of trade” for current and future interactions. 80 Various approaches are used to gain support, including currying favor, creating dependence, providing quid pro quo’s, and appealing to compelling organizational needs.

Successful negotiating requires an understanding of “the strengths and weaknesses of others, the relationships that are important to them, what their agendas and priorities are.” 81 Issues must be shaped and presented in ways that are palatable to individuals and groups with differing interests and needs. Sayles, who has conducted the most extensive research on these processes, noted that they usually began with “missionary work,” in which potential buyers and sellers were identified for possible future use. 82 A surprising range of contacts was necessary because horizontal relationships fell into so many different categories. All, however, required skilled salesmanship: the ability to interest outsiders in a project, gain exceptions from staff groups, and convince support specialists to invest time and resources. For this reason, the most critical process choices involved framing and presentation: deciding how to solicit help and present proposals in ways that appealed to others yet met one’s basic objectives.

Selling is also required in a vertical direction. Middle managers must normally convince their superiors of the value of their proposals if they hope to see them enacted; to do so, they frame projects to highlight urgency and need, bundle them in ways that increase the likelihood of acceptance, and assemble coalitions to provide credibility and support. 83 This activity is not confined to middle managers. Chief executives engage extensively in selling, for it is often the only way they can gain acceptance of their strategies and plans. 84

Monitoring and Control Processes

Once operations are underway, managers engage in a third set of processes, designed to ensure that their organizations are performing as planned. Such oversight activities are necessary because business environments are inherently unstable; they generate any number of unexpected shocks and disturbances. Monitoring and control processes detect perturbations, initiate corrective action, and restore the organization to its previous equilibrium. 85 Typically, managers begin with efforts to sense problems and formulate them clearly, followed by probes to clarify the problems’ precise nature and underlying causes. 86 They collect information through their own contacts, others’ contacts, observation, and reviews of records. 87 At times, they use formal organizational processes, like variance reporting; more often, effective monitoring is nonroutine and conducted as part of other, ongoing interactions. 88 Here, critical process choices include the information sources to tap, the data to request, the questions to pose, and the amount of time to allow before drawing conclusions and initiating corrective action.

Recapping Managerial Skills

These three processes have different purposes, tasks, and critical skills (see “A Managerial Processes Framework”). Although most managers treat them as distinct challenges, at a deeper level, they have much in common. All depend on rich communication, pattern recognition, a sensitivity to relationships, and an understanding of the organization’s power structure. Perhaps most important, all managerial processes involve common choices about how to involve others and relate to them as the organization moves forward. They are the essence of the manager’s craft and can be applied equally effectively to direction setting, negotiating and selling, and monitoring and control.

The variables are few, but the combinations are virtually limitless. Whatever the issue, all managerial processes involve six major choices that a manager must make:

1. Participants (Whose opinions should I seek? Whom should I invite to meetings? Who should participate in task forces? Which groups should be represented?)

2. Timing and sequencing (Whom should I approach first? Whom should I invite next? Which agreements should I solicit before others? How should I phase events over time?)

3. Duration (How much time should I devote to information collection? How much time should I give to individuals and groups for their assignments? How should I pace events to build momentum?)

4. Framing and presentation (How should I describe and interpret events? How should I heat up issues or cool them down? How should I frame proposals for superiors, subordinates, and peers? What questions should I ask to gain information?)

5. Formats (Should I make requests in person or over the phone? Should I communicate information through speeches, group meetings, or face-to-face encounters?)

6. Style (How should I induce others to cooperate? How should I utilize and distribute rewards and punishments? What tone should I take when dealing with superiors, subordinates, and peers?)

There are many possible answers. This variety helps explain why management, like many other professions, continues to be more an art than a science. 89 In the face of massive uncertainty, managers must make complex choices with few precedents or guidelines; the resulting processes seldom repeat themselves exactly. Moreover, seemingly minor variations in processes can have major impacts. Changes in sequencing, with one critical individual or department contacted before another, or shifts in format, with written memoranda replacing face-to-face meetings, often produce dramatically different coalitions and results. 90 The subtlety of these distinctions, plus the enormous range of possibilities, is what makes managerial processes so difficult to master. But, by thinking in process terms, managers are much more likely to link together their activities to produce the desired ends.

Implications for Action

The process perspective fills an important gap. Most research on organizations either employs highly aggregated concepts like strategy or focuses on low-level tactics and tasks. Researchers often ignore the middle ground. Processes, by contrast, are intermediate-level concepts that combine activities into cohesive wholes, yet offer a fine-grained, differentiated perspective. They are also inherently dynamic. Because processes unfold over time, they capture linkages among activities that are often lost in static models and cross-sectional analyses. A process approach encourages thinking in story lines rather than events; the appropriate metaphor is a movie rather than a snapshot. 91

For this reason, the approach is unusually helpful in addressing implementation problems. Managers can articulate the required steps in a process, as well as improvements. By contrast, traditional lists of roles and responsibilities leave the associated activities unspecified or undefined. Job descriptions framed in process terms should therefore make it easier for untrained individuals to step into new jobs and acquire necessary skills. 92 Managers should be able to focus their questioning of peers and subordinates on issues more directly related to the organization’s operation. 93 And a sensitivity to processes should give managers clearer guidelines about how and when to intervene effectively in others’ work. 94

We can combine the major organizational and managerial processes into a simple, integrating framework (see “A Framework for Action”). The framework consists of diagnostic questions that allow managers to assess the effectiveness of their, and their organization’s, approaches to action. For example, the question “Is there a clear rationale, direction, and path of change?” asks managers to determine whether direction has been set effectively for a particular change process. Similarly, the question “Have we obtained the necessary agreements and resources from upstream and downstream departments?” assesses whether negotiation and selling have been conducted effectively for a given work process. Together, the questions provide a reasonably complete framework for evaluation.

The framework has two primary uses:

First, it can help managers decide where, when, and how to intervene in their organization’s activities. To do so, they should work down the columns of the matrix, asking each question in turn to isolate the likely source of difficulties and identify appropriate remedial actions. Consider, for example, a company experiencing customer service problems. Because customer service is an operational (work) process, the questions in the first column provide guidance. If the answers suggest that problems can be traced to unclear goals, managers need to invest time in setting and clarifying objectives. If the problems reflect a lack of support from upstream designers and manufacturing personnel, managers need to devote time to cross-departmental negotiations and salesmanship. If the problems signify slow, limited customer feedback, managers need to upgrade the processes for monitoring and collecting information.

Managers can use the same approach for less tangible processes like decision making. Suppose that decision making is currently parochial and unimaginative, and managers have decided to improve the process by encouraging dissent and constructive conflict. Progress, however, has been slow. Because decision making is a behavioral process, managers should use the questions in the second column to diagnose the problem. If the answers suggest that difficulties can be traced to unclear concepts (e.g., “We don’t know how to distinguish constructive from unproductive conflict”), managers should focus on improved direction setting. If the difficulties reflect underlying disagreements about the appropriateness of the desired behaviors (e.g., “We are a polite company and see no reason to argue with one another”), managers should focus on selling the new approaches. If the difficulties are caused by poor awareness of current practices (e.g., “We don’t need to do anything differently because we already entertain diverse viewpoints and debate issues in depth”), managers need sharper real-time feedback and monitoring. Here, too, the matrix provides managers with a powerful lens for identifying the underlying sources of problems and for framing responses in process terms.

Second, the matrix helps managers identify their personal strengths and weaknesses. Because direction setting, negotiation and selling, and monitoring and control are very different processes, few managers are equally adept at all three. One way to identify areas needing work is for managers to proceed across the rows of the matrix, asking the relevant diagnostic questions about diverse organizational activities.

For example, to assess direction-setting skills, a manager might look at a number of operational processes under his or her control to see if clear goals have been established, might review a variety of decision-making and communication processes to see if preferred approaches were clearly described and understood, and might assess several current change initiatives to see if the rationale, direction, and paths of change were clear. A series of “no’s” in a row means that the manager needs to improve direction setting. As with the previous assessments of organizational processes, managers can conduct these evaluations working alone in their offices, teams of executives responsible for related projects or programs can work in groups, or entire departments or units can work collectively. In general, the size of the evaluating group should correspond to the scope of the process under review, and the larger the group, the more likely that formal approaches to data collection such as surveys, questionnaires, and diagnostic scales will be needed.

Clearly, a process perspective has much to offer. It sheds light on many pressing questions of organization and management while providing a number of practical guidelines. Here I present a starting point, a taxonomy and frameworks for defining, distinguishing, and classifying the major types of processes. Used wisely, they will improve managers’ ability to get things done.

About the Author

David A. Garvin is the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School.

1. B.S. Chakravarthy and Y. Doz, “Strategy Process Research: Focusing on Corporate Self-Renewal,” Strategic Management Journal, volume 13, special issue, Summer 1992, pp. 5–14, quote from p. 6.

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3. A.H. Van de Ven, “Central Problems in the Management of Innovation,” Management Science, volume 32, number 5, 1986, pp. 590–606.

4. L.R. Sayles, Leadership: Managing in Real Organizations, second edition (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1989).

5. C.P. Hales, “What Do Managers Do?,” Journal of Management Studies, volume 23, number 1, 1986, pp. 88–115; and H. Mintzberg, The Nature of Managerial Work (New York: Harper & Row, 1973).

6. For discussions of processes in the quality literature, see: H.J. Harrington, Business Process Improvement (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1991); E.J. Kane, “IBM’s Quality Focus on the Business Process,” Quality Progress, volume 19, April 1986, pp. 24–33; E.H. Melan, “Process Management: A Unifying Framework,” National Productivity Review, volume 8, 1989, number 4, pp. 395–406; R.D. Moen and T.W. Nolan, “Process Improvement,” Quality Progress, volume 20, September 1987, pp. 62–68; and G.D. Robson, Continuous Process Improvemen (New York: Free Press, 1991). For discussions of processes in the reengineering literature, see: T.H. Davenport, Process Innovation (Boston: Harvar Business School Press, 1993); M. Hammer and J. Champy, Reengineering the Corporation (New York: Harper Business, 1993); and T.A. Stewart,”Reengineeering: The Hot New Managing Tool,” Fortune, 23 August 1993, pp. 40–48.

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10. Davenport (1993), chapter 7; Hammer and Champy (1993), chapter 3; Harrington (1991), chapter 6; and Kane (1986).

11. Hammer and Champy (1993), pp. 108–109; Kane (1986); and Melan (1989), p. 398.

12. Moen and Nolan (1987); and Robson (1991).

13. Davenport (1993), pp. 10–15; and Hammer and Champy (1993), pp. 32–34.

14. T.H. Davenport and N. Nohria, “Case Management and the Integration of Labor,” Sloan Management Review, volume 35, Winter 1994, pp. 11–23, quote from p. 11.

15. I. Price, “Aligning People and Processes during Business-Focused Change in BP Exploration,” Prism, fourth quarter, 1993, pp. 19–31.

16. Kane (1986); and Melan (1985) and (1989).

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20. For example, see: A. March and D.A. Garvin, “Arthur D. Little, Inc.” (Boston: Harvard Business School, case no. 9-396-060, 1995).

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24. L.A. Hill, Becoming a Manager ( Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1992), pp. 20–21.

25. For reviews, see: J.L. Bower and Y. Doz, “Strategy Formulation: A Social and Political Process,” in D.H. Schendel and C.H. Hofer, eds., Strategic Management (Boston: Little, Brown, 1979), pp. 152–166; and A.S. Huff and R.K. Reger, “A Review of Strategic Process Research,” Journal of Management, volume 13, number 2, 1987, pp. 211–236.

26. H. Mintzberg, D. Raisinghani, and A. Théorêt, “The Structure of Unstructured Decision Processes,” Administrative Science Quarterly, volume 21, June 1976, pp. 246–275; P.C. Nutt, “Types of Organizational Decision Processes,” Administrative Science Quarterly, volume 29, September 1984, pp. 414–450; and E. Witte, “Field Research on Complex Decision-Making Processes — The Phase Theorem,” International Studies of Management and Organization, volume 2, Summer 1972, pp. 156–182.

27. Witte (1972), p. 179.

28. Mintzberg et al. (1976); and Nutt (1984).

29. For studies on capital budgeting, see: R.W. Ackerman, “Influence of Integration and Diversity on the Investment Process,” Administrative Science Quarterly, volume 15, September 1970, pp. 341–351; and J.L. Bower, Managing the Resource Allocation Process (Boston: Harvard Business School, Division of Research, 1970). For studies on foreign investments, see: Y. Aharoni, The Foreign Investment Decision Process (Boston: Harvard Business School, Division of Research, 1966). For studies on strategic planning, see: P. Haspeslagh, “Portfolio Planning: Uses and Limits,” Harvard Business Review, volume 60, January–February 1982, pp. 58–74; and R. Simons, “Planning, Control, and Uncertainty: A Process View,” in W.J. Bruns, Jr. and R.S. Kaplan, eds., Accounting and Management: Field Study Perspectives (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1987), pp. 339–367. For studies on internal corporate venturing, see: R.A. Burgelman, “A Process Model of Internal Corporate Venturing in the Diversified Major Firm,” Administrative Science Quarterly, volume 28, June 1983, pp. 223–244; and R.A. Burgelman, “Strategy Making as a Social Learning Process: The Case of Internal Corporate Venturing,” Interfaces, volume 18, number 3, 1988, pp. 74–85. For studies on business exit, see: R.A. Burgelman, “Fading Memories: A Process Theory of Strategic Business Exit in Dynamic Environments,” Administrative Science Quarterly, volume 39, March 1994, pp. 24–56.

30. Bower (1970).

31. G.T. Allison, Essence of Decision (Boston: Little, Brown, 1971); I.L. Janis, Victims of Groupthink (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1972); L.J. Bourgeois, III and K.M. Eisenhardt, “Strategic Decision Processes in High-Velocity Environments: Four Cases in the Microcomputer Industry,” Management Science, volume 34, number 7, 1988, pp. 816–835; K.M. Eisenhardt, “Speed and Strategic Choice: How Managers Accelerate Decision Making,” California Management Review, volume 32, Spring 1990, pp. 39–54; J.W. Fredrickson and T.R. Mitchell, “Strategic Decision Processes: Comprehensiveness and Performance in an Industry with an Unstable Environment,” Academy of Management Journal, volume 27, number 2, 1984, pp. 399–423; J.W. Fredrickson, “The Comprehensiveness of Strategic Decision Processes: Extension, Observations, Future Directions,” Academy of Management Journal, volume 27, number 4, 1984, pp. 445–466; and I. Nonaka and J.K. Johansson, “Organizational Learning in Japanese Companies,” in R. Lamb and P. Shrivastava, eds., Advances in Strategic Management, volume 3 (Greenwich, Connecticut: JAI Press, 1985), pp. 277–296.

32. Janis (1972).

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34. Janis (1972), pp. 146–149.

35. Bourgeois and Eisenhardt (1988).

36. E.H. Schein, Process Consultation: Its Role in Organization Development, second edition (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1988), pp. 17–19.

37. D.G. Ancona and D.A. Nadler, “Top Hats and Executive Tales: Designing the Senior Team,” Sloan Management Review, volume 31, Fall 1989, pp. 19–28; and D.C. Hambrick, “Top Management Groups: A Conceptual Integration and Reconsideration of the ‘Team’ Label,” in B.M. Staw and L.L. Cummings, eds., Research in Organizational Behavior, volume 16 (Greenwich, Connecticut: JAI Press, 1994), pp. 171–214.

38. Schein (1988), p. 21.

39. Ibid., pp. 22–39.

40. O. Hauptman, “Making Communication Work,” Prism, second quarter, 1992, pp. 71–81; and D. Krackhardt and J.R. Hanson, “Informal Networks: The Company behind the Chart,” Harvard Business Review, volume 71, July–August 1993, pp. 104–111.

41. Ancona and Nadler (1989), p. 24; Schein (1988), p. 50.

42. D. McGregor, The Professional Manager (New York: McGraw-Hill. 1967), pp. 173–174; and Schein (1988), pp. 57–58, 81–82.

43. R.L. Daft and G.P. Huber, “How Organizations Learn: A Communication Framework,” in S.B. Bacharach and N. DiTomaso, eds., Research in the Sociology of Organizations, volume 5 (Greenwich, Connecticut: JAI Press, 1987), pp. 1–36; C.M. Fiol and M.A. Lyles, “Organizational Learning,” Academy of Management Review, volume 10, number 4, 1985, pp. 803–813; G.P. Huber, “Organizational Learning: The Contributing Processes and the Literatures,” Organization Science, volume 2, number 1,1991, pp. 88–115; B. Levitt and J.G. March, “Organizational Learning,” Annual Review of Sociology, volume 14, 1988, pp. 319–340; and P. Shrivastava, “A Typology of Organizational Learning Systems,” Journal of Management Studies, volume 20, number 1, 1983, pp. 7–28.

44. P.M. Brenner, “Assessing the Learning Capabilities of an Organization” (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Sloan School of Management, unpublished master’s thesis, 1994); Daft and Huber (1987), pp. 24–28; D.A. Garvin, “Building a Learning Organization,” Harvard Business Review, volume 71, July–August 1993, pp. 78–91; Levitt and March (1988), p. 320; and E.C. Nevis, A.J. DiBella, and J.M. Gould, “Understanding Organizations as Learning Systems,” Sloan Management Review, volume 37, Winter 1995, pp. 73–85.

45. Nevis et al. (1995), p. 76.

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47. Shrivastava (1983), p. 16.

48. Bourgeois and Eisenhardt (1988); and Eisenhardt (1990).

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51. Van de Ven (1992), p. 80.

52. Van de Ven and Huber (1990).

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55. Gersick (1991), p. 10.

56. M. Crozier, The Bureaucratic Phenomenon (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964), p. 196; Gersick (1991); H. Mintzberg, “Patterns in Strategy Formation,” Management Science, volume 24, number 9, 1978, pp. 934–948; Starbuck (1971), p. 68; and Van de Ven (1992).

57. L.E. Greiner, “Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow,” Harvard Business Review, volume 50, July–August 1972, pp. 37–46; and M.L. Tushman and P. Anderson, “Technological Discontinuities and Organizational Environments,” Administrative Science Quarterly, volume 31, September 1986, pp. 439–465.

58. P. Selznick, Leadership in Administration (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1957), pp. 103–104.

59. Tushman, W.H. Newman, and E. Romanelli, “Convergence and Upheaval: Managing the Unsteady Pace of Organizational Evolution,” California Management Review, volume 29, Fall 1986, pp. 29–44.

60. R.M. Kanter, B.A. Stein, and T.D. Jick, The Challenge of Organizational Change (New York: Free Press, 1992), pp. 375–377.

61. R. Beckhard and R.T. Harris, Organizational Transitions, second edition (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1987); K. Lewin, Field Theory in Social Science (New York: Harper, 1951); E.H. Schein, Professional Education (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1972), pp. 76–84; and N. Tichy and M. Devanna, The Transformational Leader (New York: Wiley, 1986).

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63. C. Perrow, “A Framework for the Comparative Analysis of Organizations,” American Sociological Review, volume 32, number 2, 1967, pp. 194–208, quote from p. 195.

64. D.A. Garvin, “Leveraging Processes for Strategic Advantage, Harvard Business Review, volume 73, September–October 1995, pp. 76–90.

65. See, for example: Galbraith (1977); and Schlesinger, Sathe, Schlesinger, and Kotter (1992).

66. W.G. Astley and A.H. Van de Ven, “Central Perspectives and Debates in Organization Theory,” Administrative Science Quarterly, volume 28, June 1983, pp. 245–273, quote from p. 263.

67. C.A. Bartlett and S. Ghoshal, “Beyond the M-Form: Toward a Managerial Theory of the Firm,” Strategic Management Journal, volume 14, special issue, Winter 1993, pp. 23–46.

68. Hales (1986); Mintzberg (1973); Sayles (1989); and L.R. Sayles, Managerial Behavior (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964).

69. J. Pfeffer, “Understanding Power in Organizations,” California Management Review, volume 34, Winter 1992, pp. 29–50, quote from p. 29.

70. Crozier (1964); J.G. March, “The Business Firm as a Political Coalition,” Journal of Politics, volume 24, number 4, 1962, pp. 662–678; Sayles (1989); and M.L. Tushman, “A Political Approach to Organizations: A Review and Rationale,” Academy of Management Review, volume 2, April 1977, pp. 206–216.

71. Hales (1986); J.P. Kotter, The General Managers (New York: Free Press, 1982); Mintzberg (1973); and H.E. Wrapp, “Good Managers Don’t Make Policy Decisions,” Harvard Business Review, volume 45, September–October 1967, pp. 91–99.

72. E.M. Leifer and H.C. White, “Wheeling and Annealing: Federal and Multidivisional Control,” in J.F. Short, Jr., ed., The Social Fabric (Beverly Hills, California: Sage, 1986), pp. 223–242.

73. Hill (1992); and Kotter (1982).

74. W. Skinner and W.E. Sasser, “Managers with Impact: Versatile and Inconsistent,” Harvard Business Review, volume 55, November–December 1977, pp. 140–148.

75. Examples include The Soul of a New Machine, featuring Tom West, the leader of a project to build a new minicomputer at Data General Corporation, and My Years with General Motors, written by Alfred Sloan, who resurrected General Motors in the more than twenty years that he served as the company’s chief executive and chairman. See: J.T. Kidder, The Soul of a New Machine (Boston: Little, Brown, 1981); and A.P. Sloan, Jr., My Years with General Motors (New York: Doubleday, 1963).

76. Mintzberg (1973), p. 92; Sayles (1964), chapter 9; and Hales (1986).

77. Kotter (1982).

78. J.J. Gabarro, The Dynamics of Taking Charge (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1987); and R. Simons, “How New Top Managers Use Control Systems as Levers of Strategic Renewal,” Strategic Management Journal, volume 15, number 3, 1994, pp. 169–189.

79. Sayles (1964).

80. Hill (1992); Kotter (1982); F. Luthans, R.M. Hodgetts, and S.A. Rosenkrantz, Real Managers (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Ballinger, 1988); and Mintzberg (1973).

81. D.J. Isenberg, “How Senior Managers Think,” Harvard Business Review, volume 62, November–December 1984, pp. 80–90, quote from p. 84.

82. Sayles (1964).

83. J.E. Dutton and S.J. Ashford, “Selling Issues to Top Management,” Academy of Management Review, volume 18, number 3, 1993, pp. 397–428; and I.C. MacMillan and W.D. Guth, “Strategy Implementation and Middle Management Coalitions,” in R. Lamb and P. Shrivastava, eds., Advances in Strategic Management, volume 3 (Greenwich, Connecticut: JAI Press, 1985), pp. 233–254.

84. D.C. Hambrick and A.A. Cannella, “Strategy Implementation as Substance and Selling,” Academy of Management Executive, volume 3, number 4, 1989, pp. 278–285.

85. Mintzberg (1973), pp. 67–71; and Sayles (1964).

86. Isenberg (1984); and M.A. Lyles and I.I. Mitroff, “Organizational Problem Formulation: An Empirical Study,” Administrative Science Quarterly, volume 25, March 1980, pp. 102–119.

87. Sayles (1964), pp. 170.

88. Mintzberg (1973), pp. 67–71.

89. D.A. Schön, The Reflective Practitioner (New York: Basic Books, 1983), chapters 1, 2, and 8.

90. MacMillan and Guth (1985); and Bower and Doz (1979), pp.152–153.

91. Mohr (1982), p. 43.

92. E.D. Chapple and L.R. Sayles, The Measure of Management (New York: Macmillan, 1961), pp. 49–50.

93. Garvin (1995).

94. E.H. Schein, Process Consultation: Lessons for Managers and Consultants (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1987); and Schein (1988).


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Essay on Management: Top 9 Essays

essay about organization and management

Here is a compilation of essays on ‘Management’ for class 9, 10, 11 and 12. Find paragraph, long and short essays on ‘Management’ especially written for school and college students.

Essay on Management

Essay Contents:

  • Essay on the Importance of Management

1. Essay on the Introduction to Management :

Management is a vital aspect of the economic life of man, which is an organised group activity. It is considered as the indispensable institution in the modern social organisation marked by scientific thought and technological innovations. One or the other form of management is essential wherever human efforts are to be undertaken collectively to satisfy wants through some productive activity, occupation or profession.


It is management that regulates man’s productive activities through co-ordinated use of material resources. Without the leadership provided by management, “the resources of production remain resources and never become production”.

In the words of Drucker manager is the life-giving dynamic element in every business. Productive resources-men, money, materials-are entrusted to the organising skill, administrative ability and enterprising initiative of the management.

Modern business is the complex scene of forces of change constantly at work. The size, strategy, structure, motivation of modern enterprises underline the need of creative touch in successfully piloting their affairs. New products, new methods and techniques appear day-after-day to cater to the ever-changing trends of consumers’ tastes and needs. The ceaseless competitive drive to capture markets necessitates intellectual handling of refined requirements of consumers.

Management today is not just an exercise of blind authority or bossism but it implies scientific thinking, accurate planning and meticulous control to ensure quick and better results. Management has become a profession in view of the modern business becoming more sophisticated.

As ownership gets divorced from management, specialisation in business operations becomes more marked. Proprietors, shareholders and even their directors remain comparatively in the background and experts specialising in delicate and intricate matters of industrial techniques play increasingly positive and prominent role in running the business. Professional experts like engineer, scientist, market surveyor, trained executive, researcher, technician, occupy important place in running the affairs of an enterprise today.

Management now a days, therefore, consists of cadre of experts who performs a profitable job to build-up the competitive strength of the firm and they strive to “develop and expand the assets and profits” of the proprietors. According to Drucker, “Management, which is the organ of society specially charged with making resources productive, that is, with the responsibility for organised economic advance, therefore, reflects the basic spirit of the modern age.”

2. Essay on the Meaning and Definition of Management:

It is not an easy job to give the exact meaning of management.

Different writers have used the term “Management” in different senses, which will be clear from the following discussion:

Management as a Process :

In the words of George R. Terry, “Management is a distinct process consisting of planning, organising actuating and controlling performed to determine and accomplish objectives by the use of human beings and other resources.” The elements of management are: planning, organising, actuating (directing) and controlling.

These are also called the functions of management. It is through the performance of these functions that management is able to effectively utilise manpower and physical resources such as capital, machines, material, etc. to produce goods and services required by the society.

This has been shown in Fig. 1:

Ulitisation of Humar and Physical Resources by Management

Henri Fayol has defined management as a process consisting of five functions: “To manage is to forecast and plan, to organise, to command, to coordinate and to control.”

However, modern authors do not view coordination as a separate function of management. They consider it as the essence of managing. Koontz and O’Donnell have classified the functions of management as follows: planning, organising, staffing, directing and controlling. These functions are inter-dependent and interrelated. There is no fixed sequence of their performance. They are performed more or less simultaneously.

Management is regarded a process because it involves a series of functions as shown in:

Management as a Process

It starts with planning and ends with controlling. But it does not mean that managerial functions are followed in a specific sequence. A manager performs all the managerial functions simultaneously. Moreover, Management is a never-ending process.

There are three features of management as a process:

(i) Management is a social process as it deals with human beings.

(ii) Management is an integrating process as it organises human resources for the efficient use of other resources like capital, materials, technology, machines, etc.

(iii) Management is a continuous process. It is always involved in identifying the organisation problems and solving them.

“Management is the technique of getting things done.”

“Management is the art of getting things done.”

Marry Parker Follet defined management as “an art of getting things done through others”. This is a traditional definition of management. It emphasises that management directs the workers for getting results from them and supervises their performance. The workers are treated merely as a factor of production like materials, machines and capital.

This definition is insufficient in the modern world because of the following reasons:

(i) The above definition is incomplete because workers are treated as a mere means to organisational goals.

(ii) The management tries to manipulate the behaviour of the workers.

(iii) The needs and aspirations of the workers are not considered.

People are not mere cogs in the wheel and so they should not be treated as commodity or mere means to certain ends. Needs and aspirations of the people working in an organisation should not be overlooked. They must be satisfied so as to obtain sustained and consistent effort towards organisational objectives.

Management may be defined as a technique of getting things done through others by satisfying their needs and providing them opportunity for growth and development. According to Harold Koontz, “Management is the art of getting things done through and with people in formally organised groups. It is the art of creating environment in which people can perform as individuals and yet cooperate towards attainment of group goals.”

In order to accomplish results, management must create opportunities, and encourage growth and development of employees and provide guidance and assistance, wherever necessary. All this demands skillful application of the basic principles of the science of management. Managers must have conceptual, technical and social skills in translating the abstract organisational philosophy into concrete action.

Management is the dynamic life-giving element in every organisation. It is the activating element that gets things done through people. It provides the force necessary to transform the resources of a business organisation into desired goods and services. The primary job of management is to convert the disorganised resources of men, machines and materials into a productive organisation.

Management as a Group :

In the words of sociologists, management is a group or a class who together carry out various managerial activities.” Thus, management refers to the group of people in an enterprise who are carrying out management functions.

In other words, all individuals occupying managerial positions are collectively known as management. A manager is a person who performs the managerial functions of planning, organising, staffing, directing and controlling.

Since a manager performs the managerial functions, he is a member of the management of the organisation. Used in this sense, management includes all those who manage the affairs of an organisation. But in practice, the term ‘management’ is used to indicate the top management consisting of chairman, managing director or chief executive and Board of Directors.

Management as a Discipline :

As a discipline, management refers to the body of knowledge and a separate field of study. Management is an organised body of knowledge which can be learnt through instructions and teaching. It entails the principles, practices, techniques and skills of management which help in achieving organisational objectives. This discipline is taught widely in schools and colleges in most of the countries of the world.

Management has acquired the status of a discipline because of the following two reasons:

(i) A lot of research is being carried out by the scholars in the field of management. The results of research will be useful for future managers.

(ii) It is a specialised body of knowledge, which is studied and practised in management institutions.

Management as an Activity :

Management is an activity concerned with getting things done through people and directing the efforts of individuals towards a common objective. In the words of Harold Koontz, “Management is the art of getting things done through and with people in formally organised groups.”

Management gets results from the people by satisfying their needs, and expectations, and providing them opportunity for their personal growth. Management is a distinct activity in any organisation which is necessary for the achievement of its objectives.

According to another functional classification management activities are classified as:

Classification of Management Activities

Classification of Management Activities

1. Informational Activities:

Management has to act as a communicative link between subordinates and superiors. On one hand management receives, requests explanations, statements and suggestions from their subordinates and on the other hand it also receives orders and instructions from superiors. In their informational role as managers the requisite information is passed on to both subordinates and superiors.

2. Decisional Activities:

Management being both administrative and executory has to take routine and strategic decisions regarding various operational activities so that the organisation work is executed smoothly. In their decisional role as managers, management can also be termed as innovators, resource allocators, negotiators and crisis managers.

3. Inter personal Activities:

Management being a team work and group activity requires cooperation, coordination and harmonious relationship between individuals and departments. In order to integrate and charrelise best efforts of individuals to attain predetermined objectives of the enterprise, managers in their interpersonal role act as a figure head of the enterprise, as a leader and as a liason.

Other Definitions of Management:

Various writers have given various definitions of the management.

The following are some of the important definition:

According to E.F.L. Brech, “Management is the process of planning and regulating the activities of an enterprise.”

According to Lawrence A. Appley, “Management is the development of people and not the direction of things management is personnel administration.”

According to Koontz and O’Donnell, “It is the task of manager to establish and maintain an internal environment in which people working together in groups can perform effectively and efficiently towards the attainment of group goals.”

According to Kimball and Kimball, “Management embraces all duties and functions that pertain to the initiation of an enterprise, its financing, the establishment of all major policies, the provision of all necessary equipment, the outlining of the general form of organisation under which the enterprise is to operate and the selection of the principal officers. The group of officials in primary control of an enterprise is referred to as “the management.”

According to William Spriegel, “Management is that function of an enterprise, which concerns itself with the direction and control of the various activities to attain the business objectives.”

According to Keith and Gubellini, “Management is the force that integrates men and physical plant into an effective operating unit.”

According to S. George, “Management consists of getting things done through others. Manager is one who accomplishes the objectives by directing the efforts of others.”

According to Newman, Summer, Warren, “The job of management is to make cooperative endeavour to function properly. A manager is one who gets things done by working with people and other resources in order to reach an objective.”

3. Essay on the Characteristics of Management:

The main characteristics of management are as follows:

(i) It is Goal-Oriented:

The important goal of all management activities to achieve the objectives of a business concern. The objectives of the business may be economic, social and humane.

(ii) It is a Process:

When it is used in the sense of a process, it refers to what management does. In other words, it refers to the process of managing, planning, organising, staffing, guiding, directing supervising and controlling.

(iii) It is a Group Activity:

For the success of a business, it is necessary that all human and physical resources are co-ordinated to achieve the maximum levels of productivity. We all know that the combined productivity of various resources will always be higher than the total productivity of each resources.

(iv) Management is Universal:

It is required in all types of organisations, e.g., family, club, university, government, army, business. The basic principles of management are applicable in business as well as in other organisations. However, these principles are flexible and they can be modified to suit different situations.

(v) It is an Art and Science:

It consists of both the elements of science and art. The science of management gives a body of principles or laws for guidance in the solution of specific management problems and objective evaluation of results. The management as an art consists of this use of skill and effort for producing desirable results or situations in specific cases.

(vi) It is a Factor of Production:

Not only the land, labour and capital are of effective use for the production of goods and services but the managerial skills are also used effectively for this purpose.

(vii) Management is Dynamic:

Management denotes is an ever-changing environment, It involves adoption of an organisation to changes in its environment, and modifying the environment for the benefit of the organisation. Therefore, management is a constantly growing process.

(viii) Management is a Profession:

Management is considered to be a profession as it possesses all the attributes of profession as:

(i) A systematic corpus of knowledge,

(ii) A period of apprenticeship, and

(iii) A code of conduct.

(ix) Management is an Important Organ of Society:

Management has become an important organ of society. Management of large scale undertakings influence the economic, social, moral, religious, political and institutional behaviour of the members of the society.

(x) It is a System of Authority:

In every organised group supreme authority must rest somewhere. There should be a clear line of authority from the supreme authority to every individual in the group.

4. Essay on the Nature of Management:

A study of literature of management often gives rise to a question as to whether management is a science or an art. The brief discussion which follows leads us to the conclusion that it is both a science and an art.

Management as a Science :

Science is by definition a body of knowledge gathered by experimentation and observation, artificially tested and expressed in the form of general principles.

Following are the essential features of science:-

1. Systematised Body of Knowledge:

Science being ‘systematic’ is based on cause and effect relationship. It consists of theories and principles which have the capacity to give reasons for past happenings and at the same time, can be used to predict the result of specification in future.

2. Scientific Methods being used:

Personal opinions and individual likes and dislikes don’t influence scientific principles. They are obtained through scientific investigation and reasoning. They are critically tested and can be scientifically proved at any time.

3. Principles based on Experiments:

Observation and testing the validity and truth through experimentation makes a statement, a principle.

4. Universally applicable:

Scientific princAples may be applied in all situations and at all times, exceptions though may be logically explained. These principles, under required given conditions never fail at any place or point of time.

The debate about whether or not managing is a science continues. The answer to this question depends largely on the degree to which the scientific method is used to determine managing principles and solve managing problems.

Management satisfies many of the scientific principles, for e.g.:

1. Management is a systematised body of knowledge. Its principles explaining cause and effect relationship between various variables, e.g., Principle of Unity of Command if not followed leads to inefficiency, confusion and duplication of work.

2. Management principles are evolved on the basis of observation and repeated experimentation. For instance, it is being observed through experiments that if stability in tenure of an employee is not there, his working efficiency decreases.

But, at the same time, there exists many scientific features which do not coincide with those of management.

Briefly, the method of science consists of the following steps:

1. Facts or data are collected in an objective manner.

2. These facts are classified in some way, usually on the basis of similarities or dissimilarities, in an attempt to make the data more meaningful.

3. From the classifications, hypotheses are formulated establishing cause and effect relationships between various given factors.

4. The hypotheses are then tested to determine their reliability and validity.

5. After the hypotheses are verified and if they stand the test of time, they then have interpretive or predictive value when applied to similar phenomena.

In referring to the hope of dream that a true science of management may someday be achieved. Professor Mee states, “This hope probably will be realized in another chapter in another book in another century.” Perhaps the best that can be said is that a science of management is just beginning to emerge.

It has often been stated that even when management attempts to use the method of science (from which managing principles are also derived), management is neither as precise nor as comprehensive as the natural and social sciences.

There are several reasons why this is true:

1. The rational approach and the application of the method of science are relatively new in business and industry. As a result, managing has not developed the comprehensiveness found in other disciplines that have used the scientific approach for a much longer time.

In fact, one of the more significant developments in the last seventy-five years in the field of management has been the tendency toward using the rational approach in solving management problems.

2. Relatively few managers are trained or experienced in using the method of science. Those who are trained may find it too time-consuming and, because of this as well as other limiting factors, seek other ways to reach decisions and to solve problems.

3. Precision measuring instruments and tools are not always available in management. A manager is forced to use relative measurement where absolute measurement is not possible or feasible. To evaluate the performance of a group of supervisors, for example, he may have to use a relative measuring device such as a carefully prepared rating scale. For his purposes, however, the relative measuring technique is just as useful and effective.

4. In the physical sciences, the researcher works with a single variable, holding all other factors constant. Managers can seldom do this. They almost always deal with people, the human element with all its weaknesses. The human element can never be treated as a constant; hence precision is less than in the physical sciences, though equal to that of the social sciences. Businessmen are always dealing with the unpredictable: people, governments and nature.

5. Most importantly, managerial decision-making, unlike problem solving in the sciences, stresses action rather than truth. A manager’s decisions must have practical application. Managers strive for reasonable results under uncertain conditions rather than for perfection. A method, technique, or device only has to be “good enough” to get the job done.

Management as an Art :

Art refers to the skill to put into action a systematized body of knowledge for the achievement of a given task. To get mastery in any skill it is necessary to have the thorough knowledge of the principles of doing the particular task. At the same time it is necessary to possess the tact, the care to be taken, the discretion and proper judgement in applying the principles involved.

Presence of mind, promptness to react to the given situation and correct response demanded by the prevailing condition are all essential to perform skillfully the task undertaken.

Experiences and judgement add to this skill. Management is also an art as it is necessary to apply the principles of management in planning, organising, staffing, directing and controlling the whole series of activities all through the managerial process.

Throughout the stages of the process of decision-making and execution of these decisions all the individuals occupying various positions at different levels of management need all the skills involved.

Briefly, these skills are called the planning skills, the organising skills, the staffing skills, the directing skills (how to motivate, to communicate, and to lead) and the controlling skills. Sometimes it is said that a good manager is born and not made. But it has been now established and accepted that it is through learning and training process that skilled managers are developed.

As Koontz and O’Donnell have rightly pointed out the work of managing a business or any group activity is an art. But for this the organised body of knowledge is required. It is certainly a science. Thus art and science are not exclusive terms but complementary ones.

Management as an art has the following features:

(a) Personal Skill:

Human beings apart, there are other factors which vary in their effect and role in the achievement of the managerial tasks. Managers have to apply their skill to deal with them.

(b) Practical Knowledge:

Business enterprises involve risks. Only those who have experience can deal effectively with such risks.

Distinction between Art and Science

(c) Result Oriented Approach:

Management as an process aims at achieving concrete goals. It aims at utilising available resources optimally by creating a congenial atmosphere.

(d) Personal Judgement:

No doubt there are useful principles of management, but it needs individual judgement to apply them properly and at appropriate time. It means art is necessary.

(e) Continuous Practice:

The art of management is much older than the science of management which as an organised body of knowledge is hardly about ninety to hundred years old.

Management: Both Science and Art :

Management is a combination of an organised body of knowledge and skillful application of this knowledge. According to Brech, “A systematic body of knowledge underlies the competent practice of management”.

Much of this knowledge are to be found in various academic disciplines. Competent performance of various management functions necessarily needs an adequate basis of knowledge and a mature scientific approach.

Thus management is both a science and an art. It is a science because it uses certain principles. It is an art because it requires continuous practice to ensure the best possible result. Thus science and art in management are not mutually exclusive. Both of them exist together in every function of management.

Management as a Profession:

Profession is defined as a composite of intellectual and executive qualities applied to carry out successfully the specified activities for the benefit of others. It is an intellectual field. One enters into it to work without any expectation of a direct share in the profits earned out of the activities to carry out which one might be contributing his specialist knowledge or intellect.

According to George, “Profession is that which has a well-defined body of knowledge, which is learned, intellectual and organised, to which entry is restricted by examination, or education and which is primarily concerned with service to others above self-award.”

Features of Profession:

The above statement makes the following features of profession clear:

1. Existence of a body of knowledge, techniques, skills and specialised knowledge.

2. Formalised methods of acquired training and experience.

3. The establishment of a representative organisation with professionlisation as its goal.

4. The formation of an ethical code for the guidance of its conduct.

5. The charging of fees based on the nature of service extended.

In the light of what has been said above management can be said to be a profession.

The arguments in favour of this statement are given below:

1. Body of knowledge:

All over the world there is marked growth of an organised systematic body of knowledge about management as a process.

2. Formal methods of teaching:

The establishment of professional schools of management in which management as a body of knowledge can be taught is seen everywhere. India is no exception to it as is clear from the establishment of Indian Institutes of Management at Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Bangalore, Lucknow and Post­graduate Departments of Management as well as Institutes/Colleges of Management being established in different parts of the country.

3. Fee as remuneration:

The number of management consultants is increasing Even a large number of well reputed firms are establishing their consultancy agencies.

4. Existence of ethical code:

There is growing emphasis on the ethical basis of management behaviour.

5. Establishment of representative organizations:

Both at the national and international levels management associations have been formed with their membership rules, codes of conduct, etc. All India Management Association, New Delhi.

National Institute of Personnel Management, Calcutta, Institute of Marketing and Management, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, New Delhi, Institute of Costs and Works Accountants of India, Calcutta are the well established associations in India. And many more organisations in the specialised fields/ branches of management are being organised.

Management as Profession: A Controversy :

However, there is no agreement on this point. Questions are asked: Is management a profession? Is it becoming a profession? As it is well known, a large number of business units are operating as sole traders and single entrepreneurship enterprises. By definition and in practice they are managed by proprietor-managers. So is the case with partnership firms and joint Hindu family firms.

But company form of business enterprises in India and corporate organisations in USA and other countries are even by definition the enterprises in which ownership is divorced from management. Even then question remains if all of them are managed by professional managers. As things stand, under law it is the shareholders who elect the Board of Directors from amongst themselves.

Thus the topmost group at the top level management of a company or corporate body are not professional managers. But all the big companies operating on large scale do appoint executives and managers on salary-cum-perks basis. Thus they are the professional managers.

In large companies even the Vice Presidents of marketing, finance, etc. who are on the Board of Directors are the professional managers. So are all those working at the middle level and lower level of management. In case of public undertakings management is in effect with the professional managers. Exceptions to it are Departmental Undertakings such as Railways. Posts & Telegraphs etc. which are controlled by the various departments of the Government.

But there also other than the Minister-in-charge all those looking after the management are professionals. A new trend is becoming more and more marked. Proprietary managers are becoming more interested in acquiring the latest knowledge and technique of management. They are sending their own sons, daughters and other close relatives abroad to acquire degrees and diplomas in management.

Others are joining short- term courses in management run by organisations like Administrative Staff College, Hyderabad. All India Management Association etc. Such persons are now occupying positions at the topmost layers of the managerial hierarchy.

Are these persons to be regarded as proprietary managers or professional managers ? No doubt all the features of profession are not applicable to them. But they do possess other features.

In conclusion, it may be said that all the requirements of profession are not satisfied by managers at the top. But management is, by and large, becoming professionalised, it is more so in the developed nations. But even in India large number of managerial cadres are getting professionalised.

This is applicable to both the public and private sectors. Even the case of smaller enterprises, which are run by proprietary managers, assistance of professionals such as chartered accountants, cost accountants and lawyers are being utilised to a great extent.

5. Essay on the Objectives of Management:

Objectives can be divided into three categories: Individual, Social and Organisational. Recognising the three categories and reacting appropriately to each is a challenge for all modern managers.

(I) Individual Objectives :

Individual objectives are the personal goals each organisation member would like to reach through activity within the organisation. These objectives might include high salary, personal growth and development, peer recognition, and societal recognition.

(II) Social Objectives :

Social objectives deal with the goals of an organisation toward society. Included are obligations to abide by requirements established by the community, such as those pertaining to health, safety, labour practices and price regulation.

Further, they include goals intended to further social and physical improvement of the community and to contribute to desirable civic activities.

It should be noted that most business houses in achieving their primary goals also contribute to their respective communities by creating needed economic wealth, employment and financial support to the community.

(III) Organisational Objectives:

Drucker indicates that the very survival of management may be endangered if managers emphasize only a profit objective. This single-objective emphasis encourages managers to take action that will make money today with little regard for how a profit will be made tomorrow.

In practice, managers should strive to develop and attain variety of objectives in all management areas where activity is critical to the operation and success of the system. Following are the eight key areas in which Drucker advises managers to set management objectives.

1. Market Standing:

Management should set objectives indicating where it would like to b£ in relation to its competitors.

2. Innovation:

Management should set objectives outlining its commitment to the development of new methods of operation.

3. Productivity:

Management should set objectives outlining the target levels of production.

4. Physical and Financial Resources:

Management should set objectives with regard to the use, acquisition and maintenance of capital and monetary resources.

5. Profitability:

Management should set objectives that specify the profit the company would like to generate.

6. Management Performance and Development:

Management should set objectives that specify rates and levels of managerial productivity and growth.

7. Worker Performance and Attitude:

Management should set objectives that specify rates of worker productivity as well as the attitudes workers possess.

8. Public Responsibility:

Management should set objectives that indicate the company’s responsibilities to its customers and society and the extent to which the company intends to live up to those responsibilities.

6. Essay on the Levels of Management:

More of the authors have conceived of three levels of management in any fairly-sized business undertaking.

These are as follows:

1. Top Level Management

2. Middle Level Management

3. Lower level Management

Management is considered as a Three-tier activity. The top tier centres round the determination .of objectives and policies, the middle tier concerned with implementation of policies through the assistance of lower tier of the organisation.

The various tasks in a business enterprise “become structured somewhat like a pyramid, with the highest level of management centred at its apex”.

The managerial set-up of any undertaking, therefore consists of three levels – Top Management, Middle Management and Operating Management or Lower Level Management.

The following chart illustrates Levels of Management in a company form of enterprise of fairly large size:

Levels of Managment

This gradation of level of management is not a watertight arrangement but represents a hierarchy of authority and responsibility designed to secure a systematic sequence of operations. Each level is blended into another through its functions and all the layers of authority constitute an integrated arrangement.

The demarcation of the levels is only to analyse the range of responsibility and span of control and it underlines the principle of specialisation in administrative executive processes.

A. Top Level Management:

Top level management is made up of Board of Directors, its Chairman, Managing Director or General Manager and other key officers responsible for smooth and systematic conduct of the affairs of the enterprise.

The top level management is a concept of functions concerning the manner in which the enterprise should be shaped.

In view of large size of modern companies, the key functions cannot be performed by a single person, and hence a compact group of elected office-bearers, experts and executives form the top management level of enterprises these days. Board of Directors is assisted by Managing Director, General Manger etc. in directing the company’s operations.

Top level management’s work is a creative process and it also involves commitments of high order of responsibility. As Allen observes “top-management work is a work which must be performed at the apex of the organisational pyramid because it cannot be carried out effectively at lower levels.”

Top management is also described “as the policy-making group responsible for the overall direction and success of all company activities.” It is a chief custodian of the property of the enterprise. It is the main mobiliser of resources in men and materials essential for the inception, maintenance, operations and expansion of the undertaking.

It is more basically a panel of planning the company’s operations and in due course shall develop into an evaluating and controlling medium for securing the maximum possible performance. It is concerned with the problems and policies of the entire enterprise.

The functions of top management include:

“Identifying key factors for the survival and growth of the company and devising basic objectives, policies and programmes for dealing with these factors: being sensitive to the inter-dependence of the numerous actions and maintaining a strategic balance in these actions; and keeping an eye on how current activities of the company will cutting with predicted changes-social, political, technological and competitive-and adopting company plans to the anticipated environment.”

Functions of the Managers at the Top Level Management :

The fundamental functions of mangers of the top management may be classified into the following categories:

(1) Determining the objectives.

(2) Framing the policies and making plans to carry out the objectives and policies.

(3) Setting up an organisational framework to conduct the operations as per plans.

(4) Assembling the resources needed to put the plans into operation.

(5) Controlling the operations through organisation.

1. Determining the Objectives :

Objectives are goals which every enterprise seeks to achieve. Most of the companies describe in detail the nature of their activities in the objects clause of their Memoranda of Association. But by and large the general objectives which top management should aim at are survival, profit, business growth, prestige or status and social acceptance.

Production of particular product of specific quality, satisfaction of customer’s needs, earning of profit by production and sales, looking out for expansion and diversification of business, building up an image or reputation of the company in the eyes or estimation of the society are the broad objectives set up by top management.

Objectives also may be specific. They relate to types of activities. Specialty in workmanship, competitive pricing, marketing method, widening the area of sales abroad, relations with the workers, customers, public, government, etc.

2. Framing of Policies :

The objectives are realised through policies framed by the management. Policies signify the decisions taken by the management on different strategic aspects of company’s operations or activities.

Production policy indicates the schedules of production to meet the market demand.

Product policy lays down the standards, specifications, size, design, colour shapes etc. of the product.

Marketing policy describes the channels of selling the product (direct sale or dealership, agency etc.), advertising and sales promotions techniques to be adopted, the sales targets to be attained etc.

Pricing policy emphasises the quality aspect of the product as well as the comparative competitive nature of the rates quoted, discounts allowed etc.

Personnel policy deals with recruitment, placement, training, remuneration, promotion, rewarding and regulating the productivity of the personnel.

Financial policy is concerned with procuring funds required for investment in fixed assets or required to be held over for working capital needs, sources of finance, e.g., borrowing, self-financing, issuing additional capital etc.

Top management has also to devise plans and schemes for precise execution of policies within a given time. Plans set out the course along which operations in different departments are to be conducted as per the criteria laid down in the respective policies.

production schedule, sales campaign, financial arrangements, personnel motivation have to be drawn as to focus and guide the activities of the company in the direction of the realisation of the basic objectives.

3. Organising:

Organisation means division of functions, allocation of duties to the personnel, fixation of range of their responsibility and the scope of their authority and co­ordination of the activities of the departments of the undertaking. Standardisation of administrative procedures is the main task of organising the enterprise.

Systems and procedures are the methods intended to govern the departmental activities of a company. Organisation ensures smooth flow of work from one stage to another, or from one department to another, so that the whole undertaking is enabled to achieve the targets to the benefit of the company and satisfaction of customers.

4. Assembling the Resources:

Prior to the launching of the plans, the resources of money, men and materials have to be assembled. Executives and operatives are appointed after careful selection on the basis of their merits and the nature of jobs to be handled.

Money capital has to be raised through issue of shares, debentures, etc. and arrangement for working capital has to be made through reserves, bank advance etc.

Then the physical resources-machinery, tools, furniture, buildings, water supply, power, other ancillary equipment-have to be collected as per estimated needs. The management has to find out the sources of finance for implementing the plans and programmes.

5. Controlling :

Top level management does not directly execute work. But the Chief Executive in the top management has the responsibility of exercising supervision over all the departments to make sure that the middle and lower managements are functioning as per the plans.

By controlling we mean instituting checks or comparisons of actual results with the planned targets. It implies evaluation or measurement of the work turned out in each section or department with reference to the goals envisaged in the basic plans and policies of the company.

The top level management lays down the standards of performance for the purpose of comparison of the actual results with the planned performance. Standard cost per unit, sales quotas, net profit per unit of sales are some of the reliable criteria for comparison.

Top level management finds out to what extent the performance has been upto the mark and identifies in the course the sources of strength and weakness in the different phases of organisation and operations.

Top level management has to act as coordinator and regulator of the activities of the undertaking in its different dimensions. It will call for reports, statistical data, special studies, accounting records to know the position of performance and to apply regulatory checks wherever and whenever necessary.

B. Middle Level Management:

Middle level management is concerned with the task of implementing the policies and plans chalked out by the top management. Middle management comprises departmental heads and other executive officers attached to different departments.

These departmental managers and officers are expected to take concrete steps for actual realisation of the objectives and operational results visualised in the plans finalised by the top officers of the organisation. “This group is responsible for the execution and interpretation of policies throughout the organisation and for the successful operation of assigned division or departments.”

Managers at the middle level management level exercise the usual functions of management in respect of their own departments. They have to plan the operations, issue instructions to their assistants, collect the resources required and control the work of the men under them and evaluate the results achieved by their department with reference to the plans formulated by the top management.

If the top management is endowed with the authority of policy-making, middle management is entrusted with the programming of efforts essential for implementing the basic pre-determined policies.

Functions of Managers at the Middle Level Management :

The functions of the managers at the middle level management can be broadly summarised as follows:

(i) Interpretation of policies framed by top level management.

(ii) Preparing the organisational set-up in their departments for fulfilling the objective implied in various business policies.

(iii) Finding out the suitable personnel and assigning duties and responsibilities to them for the execution of the plans of the concerned departments.

(iv) Compiling detailed instructions regarding operations and issuing them to the assistants and operatives to focus and guide their efforts accordingly.

(v) Motivating the personnel for higher productivity and rewarding them for their merit, capacity or calibre.

(vi) Cooperating with other departments so as to evolve a smoothly functioning organisation.

(vii) Collecting reports, statistical information and other records about the work turned out in respective departments and forwarding the same with their observations to the top level management.

(viii) Recommending to the top management, new or revised policies for their departments to secure better performance.

Middle level management managers are responsible for all the leading functions within each department. They provide “the guidance and the structure for a purposeful enterprise”.

The top management’s plans and ambitious expectations cannot be fruitfully realised without the key officers at the middle level management.

Managerial Structure at the Middle Level Management :

Generally the following functions at the middle level management are performed through the various departments under the departmental managers or heads.

1. Production department headed by works manager is concerned with the following functions:

(i) To collect the work orders and issue them to concerned sections.

(ii) To guide the foremen, and prescribe methods and process to be followed in execution of the work allotted.

(iii) To devise a system of inspection of factory functioning, the components, semi-finished and finished products.

(iv) Assembling the tools, equipment, plant, qualified personnel etc. to execute the production’s plan.

(v) Controlling the factory expenses.

2. Engineering Department headed by chief engineer has to perform the following functions:

(i) Production-planning, routing, scheduling.

(ii) Plant layout suited to the execution of production plans.

(iii) Designing the products, their specifications, standards, quality, workmanship etc.

(iv) Research in methodology of production for improving technical efficiency.

(v) Plant and tools maintenance and development of the full capacity of production.

(vi) Economy in production costs and resource consumption.

3. Personnel Department:

It is headed by the chief personnel officer, labour officer. He has to devise selection procedure and training schemes: he has to maintain service records of the staff and formulate methods of remuneration in conformity with the productivity and cost of living. He has to assure wholesome working conditions to the personnel and look after their social and economic security and welfare.

4. Stores Department headed by stores manager is concerned with systematic organisation of purchasing raw materials, stores articles, tools, equipment, spare parts, etc. and proper custody of the materials with the responsibility of issuing them to the requisitioning departments.

He has to sort and arrange neatly the stockpile of materials etc. and keep an up to date record of materials, stores, tools, etc. received, issued, consumed, balance held in stock, etc.

5. Office Manager is in-charge of secretarial work of correspondence, filing, indexing, use of office appliances, maintenance of records and reports pertaining to the different departments.

6. Accounts Department:

The chief Accountant is responsible for maintaining up-to-date accounts of financial transactions and recording sales, purchases, receipts and payments.

He is also required to compile periodically the Trading Account, Profit and Loss Account and Balance sheet of the firm.

He should ensure that monthly financial statements indicating the position of the firm are placed before the Board and other top management officials.

7. Costing Department:

In bigger enterprises a separate department for costing is constituted and cost accountant is appointed to administer the functions of the section.

Costing department is entrusted with the main functions of ascertaining the prime and supplementary costs and submission of cost-sheets to the top level management for appraisal.

Costing department keeps detailed records of costs of completed jobs in progress, costs of materials, labour, factory overhead costs and sales on cost. It helps the management to find out the disparity between estimated costs and actual costs and the reason thereof so that remedial measures can be adopted.

8. Sales Department:

This section is the life-blood of the enterprise because the sales are the barometer of business profits and reputations of the firm. The work of the department is to create demand for the goods for promoting maximum possible sales at quick pace in wider markets.

The vital functions of the department are as follows:

(i) Market research to find out the needs, tastes and buying habits of the consumers.

(ii) Looking out for new markets for the goods.

(iii) Organising advertisement campaigns and other sales promotion activities for creating, maintaining and expanding the demand.

(iv) Collecting orders from the customers through agents, dealers or salesmen.

(v) Executing the orders by timely despatch of goods.

(vi) Supervision of salesmen’s efforts, training and stimulation of salesmen.

(vii) Organising after-sale service and similar sales promotion efforts.

(viii) Looking after proper warehousing, packing and despatch of goods.

(ix) Attending to customers’ complaints and suggestions.

C. Lower Level Management (Operating Management) :

It is described as the lowest level in the administrative framework and actual operations are the responsibility of the rank and file constituting this level of management.

Foremen, supervisors and sub-departmental executives assisted by a number of workers, clerks etc. carry out the actual operations as per schedule. Their authority and responsibility is limited and they have to follow the lines drawn by the higher levels of management.

The plans and policies of the top level management will fail if the foremen and operatives do not fully realise the spirit of sustained work. The quality of the workmanship and quantity of output will depend on the hard labour, discipline and loyalty of the operating personnel. The foremen or supervisors are responsible for executing the work orders allotted to their respective sections.

They pass on the instructions of middle level management to the working force, procure the materials, tools etc. required for the jobs, assign specific duties to individual workmen and guide them in acting upon the instructions and handling the job on hand with ability and accuracy.

They seek to maintain precise standards of quality, prevent wastage of materials by negligent workmen, look to the safety of machines and equipment and ensure steady flow of output as per plans and programmes prescribed by the top level and middle level managements.

They are also responsible for maintaining discipline among the respective batches of workers, preserving and boosting their morale and fostering the team spirit in them.

7. Essay on Theo Haimann’s Three Notions about Management:

According to Theo Haimann management is used in three different senses:

(i) It is used as a noun. It refers to the group of managerial personnel of an enterprise.

(ii) It refers to the processes of managing, planning, organising, staffing, guiding, directing, supervising and controlling.

(iii) It is used apart from the above two—personnel and activity- but it describes the subject, the body of knowledge and the whole practice, the discipline.

I. Management is an art of getting things done through other people :

It is a process of activity consisting of some basic techniques for getting the objective of an enterprise fulfilled through the efforts of people. It is the activating element in any concern for getting things done through people. But today it is thought to be against humanity. At present: “It is the art of getting things done through and with the people informally organized groups.”

The job of management is to give active leadership that unites the productive but passive resources into a fruitful organization.

As per E. Peterson and E.G. Plowman:

“It is a technique by means of which the purposes and objectives of a particular human group are determined, clarified and effectuated.”

As per E.F.L. Breach it has been said as:

“A social process entailing responsibility for the effective of efficient planning and regulation of the operations of an enterprise, such responsibility involving a judgement and decision in determining plan and using data to control performances and progress against plans. The guidance, integration, inspiration and supervision of the personnel comprising enterprise and carrying out its operations.”

Breach signifies that it is not possible to take management in relation to things or mechanical operations of machines but only in relation to the people who are employed to operate or use such things.

As per Prof. Harold Koontz it is:

“The art of getting things done through and with people informally organized groups. It is the art of creating an environment in which people can perform as individuals and yet co-operate towards attainment of groups’ goals. It is art of removing blocks to such performance, a way of optimizing efficiency in reaching goals.”

II. Management is what management does:

The three functions of management are:

(i) Planning,

(ii) Implementing, and

(iii) Controlling.

Planning includes formation of policy and its translation into plans. Implementing includes the execution. Controlling means exercising administrative control over the plans.

In the words of Dr. James Lundy:

“Management is principally a task of planning, co-ordinating, motivating and controlling the efforts of others towards a specific objective. It involves the combining of the traditional factors of production (land, labour and capital) in an optimum manner, paying dues attention, of course, to the particular goals of the organization.”

This definition includes three major management activities of:

(1) Planning is the ascertainment of the course or objectives of a business, division or department to attain maximum profit effectiveness, the establishment of policies and continuous seeking and finding out new and better ways to do things.

(2) Implementing seeks to the doing phases, after preparation of plans, personnel attend their jobs with training of motivation not do rightly. Activities must run to the planning, supervision and direction of the subordinates and at the same time groups efforts are coordinated.

(3) Lastly, controlling seeks to evaluate acts of those who are responsible for executing the plans agreed upon. It consists of: (a) Controlling adherence to plans (b) appraising performance.

III. Management is the development of the people:

Business is not the management of things. As Appley Lowrence puts it: “The development of people and not the direction of things.” It is the selection, training supervision and development of people. These days most of the large as well as medium-sized enterprises are managed by the professional managers i.e., the managers who have got either little or no share in the ownership of the enterprise. They take management as a career.

Mcforland has noted following characteristics of a profession:

1. A body of principles, techniques, skills and specialised knowledge.

2. Formal methods of acquiring training.

3. Laying down of certain ethical codes of guidance of conduct.

4. Charging of fees according to the nature of services rendered.

And management is truly a profession in the sense that it fulfills all these conditions. Management these days is very much a systematised body of knowledge (science) and is an identifiable discipline. It has also developed a number of its tools and techniques.

In India, now there are a number of management institutes and university departments imparting formal management training. But management still, at last so in our country, does not fulfill the last time requirements of being a profession. There is, for example, still no unified ethical code of conduct for the managers as is there for the doctors and lawyers.

8. Essay on the Functions of Management:

Various authors have given various functions of management according to the time and development of the management science.

All these can be classified into the following categories:

(i) Planning

(ii) Organisation

(iii) Direction

(iv) Co-ordination

(v) Control.

These functions of management have been discussed in detail in the following paragraphs:

(i) Planning:

It is deciding in advance what is to be done, how it is to be done and when it is to be done. Planning involves projecting the future course of action for the business as a whole and also for the different sections within it. It helps in bridging the gap between the present and the future.

Planning is possible whenever there is a question of choosing and planning process is possible only when alternatives are there. In fact planning is an intellectual process. It signifies use of rational approach to the solution of problems. The important aspects of planning process are defining and establishing objectives, policies, procedures methods, rules, budgets, programmes and strategies.

(ii) Organisation:

Organisation is the structural relationship in an enterprise between the various factors i.e., men, material and management which combine to achieve the objectives set by the enterprise. In a dynamic society like ours, the organisation is not fixed. If it does not promote the objectives of the enterprise, it must be modified.

(iii) Direction:

Direction consists of command, execution, control, supervision and motivation i.e., achieving the good results. It is concerned with to use Lawrence H. Appley’s maxim “that management is essentially getting things done through the efforts of other people.”

It needs the personal touch. A good manager has to see that his orders are properly carried out and have achieved the desired results. It will need proper supervision by him and control of all the levels below him.

Moreover, his order must always create motivation among subordinates. It is only possible when his orders are of the right type and at the right moment. For it, more of initiative, sincere and tact is required than aggressiveness. A good executive must always be a good leader.

(iv) Co-Ordination:

Co-operation permeates all operating organisations and makes their entire structure more effective by harmonizing and property timing the various activities. It means synchronising the activities of all persons and functions in the enterprise and rooting out personal prestige and vested interests.

Proper co-ordination presupposes a number of conditions which can be summed up as:

(i) Fixed responsibility

(ii) Adequate authority at each executive level

(iii) Organisational structure facilitating

(iv) Co-ordination.

(v) Control:

This includes the setting of the targets or standards and comparing the actuals with standards in order to know the deviations, analysis and probing the reasons for such deviations, fixing of responsibility in terms of persons responsible for negative deviation, and correction of employees performance so that group goals, and plans devised to achieve them are accomplished.

9. Essay on the Importance of Management:

Management is absolutely essential if human efforts are to be effective to meet all round development of the society through productive activity, occupation or profession. It is essential in all organisations and at all levels of organisation in an enterprise. Without the enlightened guidance and leadership made available by management “the productive resources will remain resources and shall never become production”.

Management is a dynamic element which gives life to a business enterprise. The productive resources such as materials, men, and money are entrusted to the administrative ability, enterprising initiative and organising skill of management.

In short, management is important for the following reasons:

(i) Provides Effectiveness to Human Efforts:

It helps achieve better equipment, plants, offices, products, services, human relations. It keeps abreast of changing conditions, and it supplies foresight and imagination. Improvement and progress are its constant watch-words.

(ii) Critical Ingredient in Nation’s Growth:

An underdeveloped nation usually lacks adequate managerial know-how. National development is not solely one of transferring capital, technology, and education to citizens of an undeveloped nations. It is also supplying or developing management which provides the generation and direction of effective human energies. Management know-how utilizes the available resources effectively toward achievement of basic needs.

(iii) Brings Order to Endeavours:

By means of management, apparently isolated events or factual information or beliefs are brought together and significant relationships discerned. These relationships bear on the immediate problem, point out future hurdles to be overcome, and assist in determining a solution to the problem.

(iv) Provides Judgement and Courage:

To determine worthwhile goals, carefully select and utilize resources efficiently by means of applying planning, organising, directing and controlling require a high degree of judgement and the exercise of great courage.

From time to time, gadgets and aids are offered to replace management, but actually at best they assist and do not represent management. Serious consideration of such devices usually points out the need for more management judgement and courage to be used. Nothing takes the place of management.

(v) Helps in Achieving Group Goals:

Management touches and influences the life of nearly every human being. Management makes us aware of our potentials, shows the way toward better accomplishment, reduces obstacles, and causes us to achieve goals that we probably would not otherwise attain.

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An Essay about a Philosophical Attitude in Management and Organization Studies Based on Parrhesia

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  • Published: 10 April 2023
  • Volume 22 , pages 587–618, ( 2023 )

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  • Jesus Rodriguez-Pomeda   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-5341-4042 1  

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Management and organization studies (MOS) scholarship is at a crossroads. The grand challenges (such as the climate emergency) humankind must face today require an improved contribution from all knowledge fields. The number of academics who criticize the lack of influence and social impact of MOS has recently grown. The scientific field structure of MOS is based on its members’ accumulation of symbolic capital. This structure hinders speaking truth to the elite dominating neoliberal society. Our literature review suggested that a deeper interaction between MOS and philosophy could aid in improving the social impact of MOS. Specifically, an attitude by MOS scholars based on parrhesia (παρρησíα, to speak truth to power) could revitalize the field through heterodox approaches and, consequently, allow them to utter sound criticisms of the capitalist system. Parrhesia would lead MOS scholars towards a convergence of ethics and politics. We investigate whether daring to speak inconvenient truths to the powerful (some peers in the field and some individuals and corporations in society) can be a straightforward tool for revitalizing MOS. Boosting a candid philosophy-MOS interaction requires the fulfilment of three objectives: practical dialogue between these fields, reconsideration of the fields’ structures based on symbolic capital, and a post-disciplinary approach to philosophy. That fulfilment implies the delimitation of the MOS-philosophy interaction, a respectful mutual framework, mutual curiosity, and moving from prescriptive theoretical reflection towards more socially useful MOS. Ethical betterment through parrhesia could be the key to surpassing MOS stagnation.

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Management and organization studies (MOS) suffer from a growing disconnection with the great contemporary problems voiced by many authors who advocate a new academic practice for increasing the discipline’s social impact. MOS do not quickly adapt to emerging social needs. Like other disciplines, MOS are structured as a scientific field. Some egocentric academic interests pursue the accumulation of symbolic capital by each academic (Bourdieu 1975 , 1984 ). The field is hierarchized based on the symbolic capital each scholar possesses. Those occupying high positions in the field are legitimized to establish research agendas and distribute resources. The “Matthew effect” (Merton 1968 , 1988 ) reinforces the power of these people, further increasing their symbolic capital.

Therefore, rebalancing the ethical and political approaches of MOS academics would mitigate the centralized control of scientific activity related to the stagnation of MOS. The aim would be “to rebuild an environment in which the selfless search for truth and knowledge is once again enshrined as the central purpose of academic life” (Tourish 2019 : 251). The truth (and its practice) appears at the confluence between ethics and politics. Consequently, parrhesia can contribute to overcoming the limitations representing established practices and ideas in every scientific field (including MOS). Moreover, parrhesia, in deviating from the doxa, can spread innovative ideas. Indeed, parrhesia requires courage to produce ideas that challenge the status quo.

Remarkably, the power exercised by scientific authorities is projected through their control over publications in academic journals. They define the prevalent metrics of symbolic capital (and, consequently, those determining the scientific authority of each academic) based on the number of publications and citations in high-ranked journals. Consequently, the current problem of MOS has an external manifestation (decrease in its social impact compared to other fields in a world defined by the so-called “grand challenges”) and an internal one (scientific sclerotization preventing adequate reaction to external changes). In this essay, we propose a revitalization of MOS by spreading an ethical attitude based on parrhesia among its academics. The aim is to develop an internal dynamic for MOS that guarantees the search for truth, democratizes the field, and allows it to recover lost scientific rigour. Therefore, MOS scholars should reconsider their attitudes and scientific procedures.

Such attitudes and procedures have—on occasion—several flaws, such as “questionable research practices” (QRPs), including data fraud, plagiarism, self-plagiarism, p-hacking (inappropriate null hypothesis analysis), and HARKing (hypothesizing after test results are known) (Tourish 2019 ). Certain consequences of some of these defects have been observed since the late 1950s: greater fragmentation of the field together with an exaggerated emphasis on research methodology involving the exclusion of validity or relevance (Starbuck 2003 : 442).

MOS could thus use the talent of all their members (not only those with the highest scientific authority) to effectively contribute (along with other fields) to overcoming the “grand challenges”. “Grand challenges” are “formulations of global problems that can be plausibly addressed through coordinated and collaborative effort.” (George et al. 2016 : 1880). Considering the huge damaging effects of inadequate treatment of these challenges, it is advisable to adopt a prudent, precautionary approach to them. Additionally, some of those challenges (such as the climate emergency) will affect further generations.Thus, careful ethical considerations by present generations will avoid irreversible effects for newcomers.

Such a contribution requires MOS members to behave outwardly as parrhesiastes; this implies the same courage in defending the truth as they must use inwardly. The reason is clear: the “grand challenges” derive from the neoliberal economic system currently dominating the world and run by an elite (individuals and corporations) acting exclusively in their own interests. Therefore, parrhesia represents a link between the ethics of MOS academics and the political spheres in which they operate (within the scientific field and externally in society overall).

Consequently, revitalizing the philosophical perspective at the origins of MOS (Jones and ten Bos, 2007a ; Mir and Greenwood, 2022 )would allow its scholars to integrate its ethical premises more deeply with the political effects of their work. The philosophical perspective is not new in MOS since these studies have been considering ideas from epistemology or ethics, among other fields. However, ironically, ethics has been considered more as an object of study within organizational activities than as a crucial element in reflecting on the development of the scientific field.

MOS researchers’ freedom and responsibility reinforce the crucial importance of their professional ethics (Tsui and McKiernan 2022 ). A scientific practice based on deeper integration of ethics and politics would improve the contribution of MOS to solving the problems afflicting contemporary societies. Therefore, an ethic of speaking the truth, even if this means confronting the powerful, would help stop any temptation to complacency. Indeed, MOS academics are responsible for criticizing everything that delays the advancement of knowledge, both in an epistemological sense and in social practice.

In addition to the presence of philosophy in the origins of MOS, the need to revitalize the philosophical attitude of MOS academics is explained by two other arguments: all scientific activity has ontological, ethical, and epistemological roots, and, like any activity developed in society, it has political consequences.

In our view, increasing the interaction between MOS and philosophy activities would require—among others—achieving three objectives: exploring a practical dialogue between philosophers and MOS scholars, reconsidering the dynamics of symbolic capital accumulation in both fields, and facilitating the transmission of ideas from the philosophy through its “de-disciplination” (Frodeman 2013 ).

Firstly, through a practical dialogue with contemporary philosophers (especially those concerned with social ontology), MOS authors could benefit from a richer and deeper perspective on contemporary humans and societies. After a short review of the present MOS situation in Sect. 2, we address the four premises for building such a dialogue in the following sections of this essay.

Secondly, overcoming the current dynamics of symbolic capital accumulation in MOS could increase interactions among its scholars (regardless of each other’s symbolic capital) on a more egalitarian and candid basis. This increase (in quantity and quality) in interactions between all types of MOS scholars would probably generate new ideas and scientific approaches. Thus, the relevance and social utility of MOS would grow.

The “de-disciplining” of philosophy concerns philosophers. An interesting effort originates from the so-called “field philosophy”: an engagement with “our common lives” driven by improvisation, non-standard methodologies, working within interdisciplinary teams, focusing on the specificities of actual problems, and adjusting rigour and results to the team partners’ requirements (Brister and Frodeman, eds., 2020 ).

In this regard, for Frodeman ( 2013 : 1935):

Philosophy, and the humanities generally, should never have become disciplines. (…). A merely disciplined philosophy, where philosophers primarily work with and write for other philosophers, is in the end no philosophy at all.

Adopting a philosophical approach in a sufficiently large group of MOS scholars could lead them to use practices such as parrhesia, which externalize ethical reflection towards a political framework.

This call to renew the ethical commitment of MOS scholars also includes recovering and updating the discipline’s philosophical roots since this ethical commitment requires rethinking the discipline’s ontological and epistemological dimensions. Determining what the existing organizations are, how they interact with new societies, and how to understand them is essential in the current critical moment.

The remainder of this article has the following structure: after addressing (in Sect. 2) the present situation of MOS (scholarship, managerialism, standstill, and the relationship of their aims with philosophy), we analyze the previous premises (field of interaction in Sect. 3, mutual respect in Sect. 4, reciprocal curiosity between philosophy and MOS in Sect. 5, and a passage from a prescriptive theoretical reflection on an adequate academic practice in Sect. 6). Subsequently, we assess the contribution of philosophy to overcoming the current MOS impasse. Subsequently, we consider how to advance the social utility of MOS, considering the contributions of philosophy to the social sciences through its “de-disciplination” (in Sect. 7). Organizational scholars’ practice of parrhesia could offer the field internal and external benefits, internally reactivating scientific rigour and democratizing the field. Consequently, in the external dimension, MOS would improve their social impact by uttering truths in analyzing grand challenges (Sect. 8). We conclude (in Sect. 9, before the conclusions offered in Sect. 10) by proposing the adoption by MOS of a philosophical attitude based on the parrhesiastic asceticism of these scholars.

The Present Situation of MOS

Mos scholarship and managerialism.

MOS have accumulated contributions from diverse theoretical origins supporting conceptual ambiguities and contradictory in their methodologies, conclusions, and performance proposals (Clegg et al. 2022 ). MOS have been developed in parallel with the growth of the ‘organizational society’ as the epitome of the modernist ideal based on reason, progress, and justice (Little 2019 ; Reed 2006 ). In 2023, with a world built around the concept of organization, and especially the subset of organizations comprising companies (Chandler Jr 1963 ; Fligstein 2008 ), the prevalence of MOS as a dominant institution is closely related to the current modes of production, cultures, and political and ideological frameworks. A leading mainstream MOS scholar as Drucker ( 1954 :1) defends that prevalence:

The emergence of management as an essential, a distinct and a leading institution is a pivotal event in social history. Rarely, if ever, has a new basic institution, a new leading group, emerged as fast as has management since the turn of this century. (…). Management will remain a basic and dominant institution perhaps as long as Western civilization itself survives.

On the ideological relevance of MOS for actual societies, Ward ( 2012 : 47–48) offers a brilliant statement:

management helped create a moral and rhetorical ordering that defines and ranks people, activities and things in term of their rationality, efficiency, performity and productivity, while simultaneously legitimating the need for a group of specially trained people to oversee all that defining and ranking.

The consequence is the configuration of managerialism as a dominant institution nowadays. In Ward’s words (2012: 48):

[M]anagerialism can be seen both as specific set of ideas and practices that, under the direction of managers, arrange a group’s activities in particular efficiency- and production-minded ways and as a broader societal-level doxa that legitimates and expands the need for this particular type of control in practically all settings.

One of the consequences of management diffusion is the growing number of MOS scholars, and, consequently, of their production. Rigorous research on the current number of MOS scholars worldwide is scarce. Among available information on the issue, Ioannidis ( 2022 ) considered that 164,428 scholars were working in September 2022 on “Economics & Business” of a total of 9,071,122 scientists worldwide (roughly 1.8% of the total number of scientists then covered in the Scopus publication database). Clearly, “Economics & Business” is not the same as “Management and Organization Studies”; however, it appears a useful starting point to estimate the number of MOS scholars. In the absence of undisputed figures regarding how many scholars work in MOS worldwide, the size of this academic community can be realized based on some available data. The first is the number of members of the Academy of Management (AoM), one of the most relevant learned societies in MOS worldwide. The AoM had over 19,000 members in 2022. This number comprises not only faculty but also students and practitioners.

Second is the relative number of documents published by European authors in collaboration that have been indexed in the Scopus and Web of Science databases in the field of strategic management (only one of the areas covered in MOS) over the last quarter-century. With 1993 as the base year (1993 = 100%), the relative number of these documents attained more than 3,000% in 2017 (Kosch and Szarucki 2021 : 57).

Therefore, it could be concluded that scholars working on MOS are a large and rapidly growing scientific community. However, even when MOS has growing steadily in the recent decades, the social impact of their work has not evolved in the same way. Several authors have denounced the lack of connection between scholars and practitioners, as well as the low credibility, replicability and relevance of MOS research (Biggart 2016 ; Co-founders of RRBM (2017, rev. 2020); Haley, 2022 ; Hambrick, 1994 ; Kieser, Nicolai & Seidl, 2015 ; Latusek and Hensel, 2022 ; Pfeffer and Fong, 2002 ; Tourish, 2019 ; Tsui, 2021 ; Wickert et al., 2021 ). MOS suffers a specific crisis in “times [that] have not been kind to academia” (Elangovan and Hoffman 2021 : 68), and when research impact measurement is under high scrutiny (Williams 2020 ). The MOS mainstream approaches to current organizational problems (framed within present day societies) in useful and ethical ways are unsatisfactory (Haley 2022 ; Tourish 2019 ; Wickert et al. 2021 ).

MOS’ Stalemate

Climate emergency, recurrent economic crises, growing inequalities in wealth distribution, inefficiencies in organizations, mismatches in the organizational-, meso-, and macro-economic levels of the global economy, the threat of nuclear war, and poor global governance are some of the huge and connected problems facing civilization today. MOS, within its capabilities, should contribute to find solutions for portions of them (Chomsky and Waterstone 2021 ; Co-founders of RRBM, 2017, revised 2020; Roitman, 2014 ; Scales Avery, 2009 ; Tsui, 2021 ).

Tourish ( 2019 ) underlines the stagnation of MOS based on some of these problems. An alternative approach is necessary. This standstill derives from a lack of coherence between current changes in organizations and MOS research aims and methods (Davis 2015 ). Therefore, MOS has lost its adherence to world affairs, and, consequently, its external mission (Starbuck 2003 ). The main effect is a growing distrust in MOS (Harley 2019 ). Consequently, some conscientious MOS scholars have expressed concerns about the reduced relevance of their work to practice (Haley 2022 ). To address this issue, we examine some points related to the dialogue between MOS and philosophy. A philosophical attitude within MOS could improve the current approaches to 21st -century organizations.

The reason is that an updated philosophical approach implies a “back-to-basics” process within MOS because these studies were, since they began, (i) attentive to philosophical ideas and (ii) concerned with their members’ ethics. As a remarkable illustration of this concern with MOS scholarship ethics, for Tsui ( 2013 : 383), a priority for a socially responsible MOS scholarship is “to seek truth above all other considerations by engaging the literature and the research participants as ethically as possible”.

MOS academic ethics should guide the individual behaviour of the scholars in the field not only towards the external constituencies (e.g., practitioners) but also towards the colleagues and the usual practices existing in this scientific field. Jordan ( 2013 : 252) defines academic ethics as all the “standards of moral behaviour, expressed with reference to ethical theory (e.g., deontology), intended to guide all individuals employed as professionals in or working as staff or students in institutions of education, research, or scholarship”.

However, after a journey of decades, traditional academic values clash with current processes at business schools, universities, and scientific journals (Harley 2019 ). Therefore, MOS suffers “a series of developments, including an apparent lack of practical or academic impact from most published research, a narrowing of focus in the field, increases in unethical behaviour, the downgrading of teaching, and increased pressure in both publishing and teaching.” (Harley 2019 : 286). We believe that, in facing this situation, MOS scholars’ rethinking of ethics and epistemology (as well as politics) is highly advisable.

Harley and Fleming ( 2021 ) offer a vivid illustration of the sluggishness of MOS with their analysis of approximately 5,500 articles published in prestigious journals between 2008 and 2018. They found that only 2.8% of them aimed to address the so-called “grand challenges” (such as inequality, climate change, or severe discrimination behaviours) since the MOS academics who work in universities and business schools develop practices that, interacting with the guidelines for scientific journals, produce a “business school/elite journal gridlock” (Harley and Fleming 2021 : 133).

In sum, philosophy can infuse new ideas into MOS, following a general statement by Starbuck ( 2003 : 449):

scientific disciplines develop social structures and codes of behaviour that, despite their fundamental virtues, can stifle innovation, creativity, and progress. To prevent this drift into sterility, scientific development needs punctuation by extra-disciplinary influences.

These philosophical influences have been present in MOS from its origins, as is now evident.

MOS’ Aim and Philosophy

Since its inception, MOS has offered guidance about people behaviour within organizations. The phenomenon of organization dominates modern society where people are embedded (Krijnen 2015 ). Therefore, the presence of organizations within the world deserves clarification.

In a broad sense, it can be considered that philosophy and MOS have consistently been inseparable since acting in the world (and, specifically, in the organizational part of it) requires a philosophical approach (O’Doherty 2007 ). This does not imply that every agent conducts a prior, concurrent, or subsequent philosophical reflection on their action. Conversely, it means that everything surrounding that action is susceptible to philosophical analysis. Several premises must be specified for the relationship between philosophy and MOS to be more intellectually and socially fruitful from their perspectives. First, the field of interaction must be delimited, as we discuss in the following section. That is, it must be determined what aspects of MOS can enable appropriate dialogues. Among such aspects, social science, epistemology, ontology, and ethics are prominent (for both their scholars and readers). Second, a respectful relationship framework must be established, as we see in Sect. 4. This means overcoming, in the philosophical field, supposed intellectual superiorities of certain philosophers. In the field of MOS, this includes the contempt with which some disqualify philosophy as useless. Several authors call for a deep reflection on the philosophical foundations of MOS. For Tsoukas and Chia ( 2011 : 6):

The need for creating a deeper awareness of the ‘unconscious metaphysics’ underpinning our theorizing efforts is particularly acute in OT [Organization Theory].

The distance between philosophy and MOS is explained by Kaulinkfreks (2007: 40) as follows:

[P]hilosophy is of no use for managers and that it should be considered as a useless activity. By use I mean a means to an end. When stating that philosophy may be useless I mean that philosophy is not a means to an end outside the philosophical activity itself.

Finally, on the preconceived opinion about philosophy’s appearance in the sciences, Jackson and Carter ( 2007 : 146) think that.

In an epoch in which knowledge is judged by the dominant criteria of science and utility, this has led to it becoming discredited –the ‘end of philosophy’ argument (see, for example, Baynes et al., 1987)—and perceived as inferior to science, if not actually useless and irrelevant.

After these considerations about some criticisms on the relationship between philosophy and MOS (and sciences in general), we deal in Sect. 5 with the third premise of our proposal for the advance of the relationships between philosophy and MOS. This premise considers that building reciprocal curiosity should be riveting. Finally, the obstacles preventing movement from prescriptive theoretical reflection to a richer and more powerful academic practice must be understood and overcome, as we analyse in Sect. 6.

The Interaction Field between Philosophy and MOS

We now consider the first premise for constructing a worthy dialogue between philosophy and MOS. This premise is the delimitation of their interaction. In configuring the field of interaction, the first question is whether the world is considered an objective or subjective phenomenon. As O’Doherty ( 2007 ) states, this question is posed by Burrell and Morgan ( 1979 : 22) with their famous four possible paradigms for studying organizations (The Sociology of Radical Change: (I) ‘Radical humanist’ (subjective), (II) ‘Radical structuralist’ (objective); The Sociology of Regulation: (III) ‘Interpretive’ (subjective), and (IV) ‘Functionalist’ (objective)). Philosophers continue the debate about the characterization of the world as an objective or a subjective phenomenon. Some of them even question the mere existence of the world, as shown by Gabriel’s ( 2015 ) denial of such a circumstance, in accordance with his meta metaphysical nihilism. Connected with German idealism, Gabriel (a figure of growing influence in continental philosophy) seeks a realism rooted in the Habermasian ‘unity of reason’ that opposes the view of constructivism according to which personal affiliations shape people’s thinking (Gabriel 2015 : xii-xiii). In his words, (Gabriel 2013 : 83)

There is no over-arching structure, no archê governing the whole thing. For one thing, there is no whole thing, no world, but only the frayed plurality of manifold appearing. The world does not exist precisely because everything exists. By not taking place it gives place to everything. And it is even better that the world does not exist, because, things being this way, it is always up to us to negotiate our various decisions as to how to compensate the lack of world—as long as the evanescent flickering of semantic field within nothingness endures.

In MOS, attempts have been made to overcome this ontological pitfall from various theoretical perspectives. As O’Doherty ( 2007 ) highlights, Burrell and Morgan’s ( 1979 ) organizational analysis, influential for decades, incorporates several philosophical connections and derivations. He speaks of the dominance Parsons’ ‘functionalist sociology’ had in the late 1970s. According to O’Doherty, this was based on a conception of the world as a pre-existing and objective entity comprising structures, categories, and dynamics. That is, the objectivity of social phenomena implies the possibility of analyzing them through the methods of natural sciences. By placing Burrell and Morgan ( 1979 ) the mainstream of organizational analysis (especially for those who originated from business schools) in one of the four quadrants of their 2 × 2 matrix, they enabled MOS to be approached with other mentalities, particularly the postmodern ones. This was also a reaction to the then-dominant orthodoxy forgetting ontological and epistemological questions. The expansion and development of ontology (for example, with the work of the most recent decades on social ontology) and epistemology from the philosophical field would allow further extension of these theoretical characterizations of MOS.

Cognitive obstacles could also hamper MOS-philosophy collaborations. These are (MacLeod 2018 : 698).

…the more intellectual and technical cognitive, conceptual and methodological challenges researchers face coordination and integrating background concepts, methods, epistemic standards, and technologies of their respective scientific domains –particularly in the context of collaboration—in order to achieve some benefit for solving specific problems or sets of problems. (…) the domain specific (or ‘disciplinary’) structure of science may play an important role explaining why interdisciplinarity is often so difficult.

The interaction field between MOS and philosophy is related to blurred disciplinary boundaries. Disciplines enact boundaries based on its claims to assert an idea. Other disciplines could want to assess that assertive right. Therefore, interaction between disciplines begins. From a pragmatist’s perspective, both disciplines get involved in a process of reasoning or making inferences. This process allows the claim and its criticism to be contrasted. The consequence is a “warranted assertibility” (Dewey 1938 ) of the initial claim.

Hence, ontological, cognitive, assertive, as well as the social aspects of scientific practice (as the dynamics of symbolic capital) should be considered to create an actionable interaction field between MOS and philosophy.

Mutual Respect between Philosophy and MOS

After cope with the delimitation of the interaction field, the second premise to develop the more socially fruitful relationship between philosophy and MOS we propose is to nurture mutual respect between philosophy and MOS. This mutual respect requires to agree on the scope of collaboration and a duly assessment of the capacity of each group of academics to make relevant contributions. This is a difficult task since it must avoid the desire for superiority. Such a claim requires overcoming existing habits in the respective academic fields since these habits lead – among other things – to the fragmentation of knowledge and a search for the professional prestige of the academic and their affiliation group. Among recent examples of the search for this mutual respect, from the philosophical field, Krijnen recognized that ‘[N]on-philosophical scientific disciplines and philosophy are intrinsically intertwined’ (Krijnen 2015 : 31) and affirmed that ‘[T]he non-philosophical disciplinary attempts at justification of this presupposed meaning and validity of the concept of organization offer no solution’ (Krijnen 2015 : 31). One might think this is a philosophical reaction against the role of under-labourer that some MOS authors conferred on philosophy. As Spoelstra ( 2007 : 55–56) indicates,

[W]e might distinguish between two concepts of a radically different nature: philosophical concepts and social scientific concepts. They cannot be translated into one another, yet they affiliate. (…) organization studies tends to understand philosophy as the under-labourer for the social sciences. Philosophy, thus conceived becomes something located outside of organization studies rather than a positive force within organization studies.

Without a change of attitude in many of the members of both fields (philosophy and MOS), it is difficult to envision the necessary cooperation between them. This does not concern invading other territories, but mutual recognition based on different orientations, objectives, practices, and methods. The subordination of one field to another (or scientific imperialism) should be avoided (Persson et al. 2018 ). MOS-philosophy relationships should attain some integration of knowledge. This integration requires deciding among pluralist and unificationist attitudes to collaboration. For Persson et al. ( 2018 ), the pluralist view focuses on transitory interdisciplinary connections, whereas unificationist scholars believe disciplinary boundaries can be surmounted in the long term. Then, cultivating a philosophical attitude in the field of MOS could build bridges. However, authors such as Krijnen do not consider this feasible (2015 : 31):

The philosophical justification developed in the debate about the foundations of organization studies within organization studies themselves is not a solution either. Critical realism does indeed show that positivism and social constructionism are inadequate. The ontology of critical realism, however, is inadequate as well. In itself there is nothing peculiar about this inadequacy: in all sciences there are after all good and not so good theories.

Philosophy has useful and less useful theoretical systems. Primarily, based on the colossal challenges societies currently face, the most ethical, prudent, and useful option would be to seek cooperation frameworks between philosophy and MOS. Such cooperation will probably require revising the foundations of MOS using philosophy. However, the current social function of these and the developed academic framework must also be appreciated.

The reasons for a renewed ethical rooting in MOS are twofold: scholars’ behaviour and MOS foundations. Regarding MOS scholars’ behaviour, their ethical perspective is accompanied by their responsibility as scientists.

For Tsui and McKiernan ( 2022 : 1613), MOS scholars have four types of responsibility: general ethical (their behaviour as citizens), societal well-being (as advisers to the users of their work), contextual (as members of a stakeholder network), and epistemic (as trained scientific professionals). However, some current practices could erode their ethical compromise. For instance, the biases observed in top-ranked journals towards theory creation and quantitative methods, together with growing pressures on scholars for publication in those outlets, drive the homogenization of research (Harley 2019 : 288). Nevertheless, grand challenges require open-minded, creative, and offbeat research.

Another reason for a deep ethical compromise within the MOS community is the “disturbingly high incidence [of unethical conduct] in our field” (Harley 2019 : 289). Although it is challenging to estimate the diffusion of unethical behaviour in MOS, it appears to have grown in recent years. Alongside some cases of fake research, are the so-called ‘questionable research practices’ (QRP) (Tourish 2019 ). Of the five studies on QRP revised by Tourish ( 2019 ), one of the more interesting is by Bedeian, et al. ( 2010 ). This article, based on the responses of 438 management faculty in 104 US Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accredited business schools, found that almost 73% of the respondents reported knowledge of faculty engaging in QRP within the previous year.

Considering MOS foundations, ethics has been involved in different management and organizational areas since the field’s inception, including decision-making and individual and organizational models of action (Griseri 2013 ). Therefore, reinforcement of ethics reflection by MOS scholars would prevent some undesirable behaviours.

Thus, MOS scholars’ behaviour, epistemological evolution of MOS, and the study of arising phenomena (such as artificial intelligence) promote wide reconsideration of the interaction of philosophical developments on ethics, epistemology, or ontology with MOS. Rabetino, Kohtamäki and Federico ( 2016 ) offer an absorbing reflection on this reconsideration related to the foundations of the strategic management field.

That is, it is not a question of rewriting what was elaborated in MOS but reordering its theoretical and practical developments starting from more robust philosophical bases. These bases could originate from social metaphysics, a field still in its infancy (Epstein 2015 : 9). However, contemporary philosophical literature collects relevant contributions such as those of Searle ( 1995 , 2010 ), Toumela ( 2002 , 2007 ), Gilbert ( 1989 ), Bratman ( 1993 ), Pettit ( 1993 ), List and Pettit ( 2011 ), Little ( 2016 ), Lawson ( 2019 ), Patomäki ( 2020 ), and Archer ( 2013 , 2017 ), in some cases specifically aimed at social ontology. As is evident, also from MOS, it would be advisable to assess the elaboration of an open, humble, and collaborative vision towards philosophy. The field of MOS must discard contempt related to the supposed uselessness of philosophy. It must recognize that, like M. Jourdain, MOS speaks a language linking certain concepts within ideological frameworks typical of philosophical reflection.

A successful and relevant research line explores the relationships between philosophy and MOS (Griffin et al. 2015 ; Hassard 1999 ; Koslowski (ed.), 2010 ), even when MOS sometimes “seems a bit shy to embrace a philosophical orientation” (Mir and Greenwood 2022 : 17).

Erkal and Vandekerkhove ( 2021 ) offer an interesting analysis of the meta-theoretical discussions on philosophy of management. From that analysis, some trends appear: philosophy of management should adopt an analytic and prescriptive perspective (Laurie and Cherry 2001 ), need to understand properly systems thinking (Dearey 2002 ), should be a process philosophy (based on dialogue between philosophers and managers) (Platts and Harris 2011 ), and should question what management is (Blok 2020 ).

This article tries to adopt a synoptic view (Gare and Neesham 2022 ; Broad 1947 ) of the assimilation of parrhesia within MOS. The aim is to look for some inter-actions between MOS and philosophy considering several complexities present in organizational phenomena. These complexities are boosted by the increasing roughness of current societal challenges. A respectful relationship between MOS and philosophy is the premise to develop an actionable inter-action to tackle with those challenges.

Nevertheless –as academic fields— philosophy and MOS show dynamics pointed towards a symbolic capital accumulation that can thwart the blossom of parrhesia in academia. Parrhesia should be the key to overcome hesitations observed in MOS when dealing with current challenges.

Another trend within MOS –especially within authors oriented towards consultancy for practitioners— is to appreciate philosophical ideas, but to approximate them in a superficial way. It seems that those authors draw upon philosophy just to garnish their mental framework. So, they disguise that framework (focused only on the business’ bottom line) with intellectually prestigious references. An example of this behaviour is Iñiguez ( 2020 ).

Finally, as we have said in the introduction, to attain a more relevant inter-action between philosophy and MOS requires thirdly –in our view— the implementation of a reciprocal curiosity amidst both fields. We deal with this issue in the following section.

Building Reciprocal Curiosity between Philosophy and MOS

Curiosity for other fields’ novelties is a powerful source of renewal in any discipline. Indeed, “questioning out of curiosity can build new dialogue and open up new methodological avenues” (Kelemen et al., 2019: 3). Questioning is a premise for critique, dialogue, and progress in any knowledge area. Therefore, if MOS and philosophy are concerned with each other’s developments, new forms of questioning will arise. Another thought-provoking aftermath of the MOS-philosophy mutual curiosity could be improved concern for societal issues through new methodologies. For Kelemen et al. (2015: 25) “new methodologies could be promoted that not only ensure the co-production of knowledge, but also can engender a ‘giving back to the community’ sensibility.” Philosophy’s openness to new methodologies and topics (especially applied topics) will boost its development and social engagement (Brake 2017 ; Hicks and Holbrook, 2019).

Regarding reciprocal curiosity between philosophy and MOS, the distance that initially appears insurmountable between both fields could be addressed based on the study of specific actions of organizations (which MOS academics observe and analyze). An example is the actions of managers in current organizations and their inability to face problems of a higher order than the organization (like climate change). Such directive action unfolds within a specific paradigm. This dominant paradigm in managing organizations presents limits preventing them from solving that problem; this cannot be disputed because it is incommensurate with other alternative paradigms.

Resulting from the co-evolution of organizations and societies, organizational objectives nowadays are sharply connected with wider issues that –in contrast with the modernist view of the organization—are beyond the mere organizational borders. A clear, interesting and relevant example is ‘open innovation’ (OI). OI has evolved recently as a useful tool to tackle simultaneously with business and societal challenges, as McGahan et al. ( 2021 : 49) say:

…[I]deas, concepts, theory, and practice on open innovation that were developed primarily for business are deeply relevant to address the grand challenges of social impact that now loom as the most important management problems of this century.

Therefore, concrete organizational problems and pending challenges will guide the reciprocal curiosity between philosophy and MOS. However, there is a risk of considering as concrete only that clothed with an adequate appearance of reality. This is the society of the spectacle (Debord 1967 /2014: 14, 19):

The society based on modern industry is not accidentally or superficially spectacular, it is fundamentally spectaclist. In the spectacle –the visual reflection on the ruling economic order—goals are nothing, development is everything. The spectacle aims at nothing other than itself. (…) The spectacle inherits the weakness of the Western philosophical project, which attempted to understand activity by means of the categories of vision , and it is based on the relentless development of the particular technical rationality that grew out of that form of thought. The spectacle does not realize philosophy, it philosophizes reality, reducing everyone’s concrete life to a universe of speculation.

Precisely, the consideration of how the knowledge of what is considered real is obtained points again to the epistemologies applied in MOS, specifically, social constructionism. As Böhm indicates, it is typical of social constructionism to consider that conflicts between communities of practice must be resolved at the local level through politics understood as ‘dialogue, “language” and conflict management techniques’ (Böhm 2006 : 129). Referring to the social framework and appealing to the concepts of ‘non-synthesis’ by Benjamin ( 1996 ) and of ‘impossibility’ by Laclau and Mouffe ( 1985 ), he considers that the final integration of the parties in conflict is impossible. The conflict is linked to wide-ranging social and historical elaborations, and ‘it cannot simply be solved by establishing dialogue between oppositional parties. Resolving social conflict, that is, bringing about a final synthesis, is impossible’ (Böhm 2006 : 129). His analysis of Gergen’s work ( 1995 ) helps Böhm to conclude that his emphasis on the importance of dialogue (2006: 115–116),

[H]ighlights that, in his view, reality is always embedded in conversations and social interactions within communities rather that a pre-existing entity. (…) For these social constructionists, then, language does not reflect reality; instead, it constitutes it. That is, reality is constructed (inter-)subjectively through the communal construction of language, or ‘languaging’.

Finally, Böhm ( 2006 ) offers a critique from the perspective of the Frankfurt School, based on Adorno’s (1967) attack on Mannheim’s psychologism ( 1951 ), of the discourses of social constructionism. This criticism extends to the approaches of Berger and Luckman ( 1966 ), Weick ( 1995 ), and Hatch ( 1997 ), considering that (Böhm 2006 : 121),

Reality is seen as something that is produced by individuals reaching consensus and shared understanding through dialogue. (…) I argued that such views are based on a certain psychologism, which remains blind towards those social structures that endure over time and space and traverse local communities. One of these social structures is, for example, capital that always already shapes reality in specific ways and produces subjectivities along specific lines.

A possible escape from the limit psychologism establishes for the reciprocal questioning between philosophy and MOS could also originate from hermeneutics. In the 20th century, hermeneutics had relevance in some areas of organizations, such as culture, sensemaking, identity, and learning. In this sense, Barrett, Powley, and Pearce ( 2011 : 205) point out that.

With interpretation as a focal point of dialogue and deliberation, forms of dialogue shape meaning systems and action and thereby influence social actors’ action with and toward others. Practically speaking, dialogue becomes an actionable strategy by which organizational actors may influence, engage, enable, empower, or whatever suits them.

This dialogue implies an openness towards the other as well as proceeding to a mental openness from the awareness of prejudices (believing that one is alien to prejudices is the greatest of these) held as part of the experience (Gadamer 1960 ). Can this open-mindedness and overcoming of prejudices enable dialogue between philosophy and MOS in the short term? This would require awareness that, as Spoelstra states, ‘A meeting between philosophy and social science is never common sense’ (Spoesltra, 2007: 65).

It would be also useful to build and develop adequate platforms for dialogue: journals (such as Philosophy of Management ), scientific conferences to discuss issues of common interest for philosophers and MOS scholars and learned societies. Improved interactions with philosophers imply rethinking of what it means to be a MOS scholar: through a reflexive process, it becomes evident that approaches questioning the mainstream can revivify this academic field. MOS scholars should not absorb any philosophy study programme but should work from a critical perspective that enables them to overcome the scholastic practices that have sclerotized the field by focusing all efforts on accumulating symbolic capital, that is, gaining positions within the field hierarchy.

This essay addresses a special study of applied ethics related to MOS scholarship; thus, it could be framed within moral philosophy. The main ideas considered here come from Western tradition, as the parrhesia (arising from ancient Greece since c. V BC). However, the main authors in MOS thought could be related to several relevant themes in the Western tradition (heroism, rationalism, positivism, romanticism, existentialism and postmodernism), making its understanding advisable for MOS scholars (Joullié 2016 ).

A highly remarkable example of dialogue between philosophers and management and organization scholars is the study of parrhesia in MOS. Since the reception in MOS of Foucault’s ideas on the knowledge/power bond, different authors within the field have studied the so-called Foucault’s third period to consider parrhesia within organizations (Vandekerckhove and Langenberg 2012 ). Raffnsøe, Mennicken, & Miller ( 2019 ) situate parrhesia within Foucault’s fourth wave alongside his analysis on subjectivity.

In parrhesia, the subject assumes an active role in the event of the utterance of truth. The relationship between the subject and truth is one of the main axes of Western culture, as Vandekerckhove and Langenberg ( 2012 ) explain, offering an interesting reflection on truth and critique within organizations (Vandekerckhove and Langenberg 2012 : 35):

Foucault clarified his position towards modern, western analyses of truth through an elaboration of the concept of critique. In practicing resistance towards a dominating truth, a personal truth emerges. Any utterance of critique is speaking a personal truth (hence the acknowledgement of the subject) but this is done in an organizational context which is a relational and communicative reality. Thus critique in organizations appears as an interactive truth. (…) In foucauldian parlance, an interactive truth appears through the critical judgements which are part of a power game embedded in the organizational praxis.

In the Western philosophical tradition, the presence of truth in organizational activities can be studied from different perspectives, such as German idealism or critical realism, among others (Krijnen 2015 ). Truth in organizations is a hot issue, with a growing number of applications (authored by MOS scholars, regulators, and practitioners) concerning phenomena like whistleblowing, raising concerns, or the ethical dimension of organizational life (Vandekerckhove and Langenberg 2012 ). Several academics (Rodriguez-Pomeda and Casani 2022 ; Skinner 2011 ; Weiskopf and Willmott 2013 ) have applied the available knowledge to the study of parrhesia and critique within specific organizational situations, tracing links to not only Foucault but to the different parrhesiastic processes in the ancient Athenian democracies. These works illustrate how MOS scholars and philosophers can obtain mutual benefit from their interactions on parrhesia.

From Prescriptive Theoretical Reflection to Richer and more Powerful Academic Practice

In the introduction, we proposed that the collaboration between philosophy and MOS should deal with four aspects. Firstly, the delimitation of the interaction field. Secondly, the building of a respectful relationship. Thirdly, the implementation of useful modes for enhancing their reciprocal curiosity. The fourth and final aspect of the interaction we propose between philosophy and MOS refers to the passage from prescriptive theoretical reflection to an academic performance consistent with the times. As social fields, both philosophy and MOS reflect the features and behaviours of Bourdieu’s accurate analysis of academia ( 1975 : 19).

The “pure” universe of even the “purest” science is a social field like any other, with its distribution of power and its monopolies, its struggles and strategies, interests and profits, but it is a field in which all these invariants take on specific forms.

The academic field and the practices developed in it (such as communication and scientific publication or exchanging ideas and dialogues between people and groups) consistently reflect power relationships that must be analyzed contextually (Paasi 2017 ). The context in which these relationships develop has been characterized as ‘academic capitalism’ (Slaughter and Leslie 1997). This term includes a market mentality (behaviours, attitudes, values) assumed by both academics and the universities and research centres in which they work. This mentality is reflected in the competition for financing from external private sources (companies, foundations, and students). Success in attracting external funds – and the results of scientific publication and the generation of patents – is among the main determinants of academic evaluation. This evaluation sanctions the results of the struggle for control of symbolic capital (Bourdieu 1975 , 1984).

Specific mechanisms (like mixed conferences) are examples of a useful dialogue between MOS and philosophy scholars. That dialogue, together with Bourdieu’s lucid vision concerning the dynamics of academic fields, and recent developments in the sociology of science, widens the understanding of MOS as an academic field.

From Merton’s traditional approach (Merton, 1957, 1973) regarding ‘Mode 1’ of knowledge production, other authors have studied the new contexts in which scientific activity occurs. Thus, concepts such as ‘post-academic science’ (Ziman 2000 ), ‘Mode 2’ (Gibbons et al. 1994 ), and the ‘n-tuples helix’ (Carayannis et al. 2018 ; Park 2014 ) appear. That is, the literature registers a heterogeneous evolution from modern to postmodern approaches to academic activity. Not all fields of knowledge observe their practices transform at the same speed, even when all are inserted in a social context that presses for a change guided by neoliberal ideology. This change is reflected in the passage from the ethos of modern science (determined by four institutional imperatives: communism, universalism, disinterestedness, organized scepticism – CUDOS –; Merton, 1973: 270) to the postmodern ‘industrial science’ (proprietary, local, authoritarian, commissioned, and expert, PLACE, Ziman 1995 ). However, that post-academic or industrial science is also subjected to the attacks of anti-scientific movements that question the role of academics as experts (Porter and Wollenweber 2018 ).

Post-academic science is ‘postmodern in its philosophy’ (Ziman 1996 : 77), and it has several essential characteristics. Among them are the following: it multiplies the places of knowledge production, opens scientific knowledge to public scrutiny, privatizes academic knowledge, facilitates interdisciplinary research, increases specialization, reinforces the link between science and social needs, and weakens the relationship between curiosity and science (Kellog 2006). The coexistence of areas where academic and industrial or post-academic science predominate makes the hybridization of both possible in a framework of mutual relationships dominated by economic, political, cultural, and social (communicative) factors. Thus, fractures and discontinuities are produced by fields of knowledge, supranational regions, and countries affecting the dialogue and interaction of academics. With different levels of acceptance of the academy-industry overlap, the literature registers emerging concepts concerning their social context, such as ‘open science’, which affects scientific communication, currently dominated by an editorial oligopoly (Larivière et al. 2015 ), or ‘open innovation’ (Smart et al. 2019 ). The interaction between academic fields may be driven by another new concept, such as that of ‘post-academic disciplinarity’ (Hellström et al. 2003 ). Overcoming disciplinary boundaries (and the limitations of any order they entail) is a necessity, according to Böhm ( 2007 : 112), that.

The relationship between philosophy and organization cannot be a linear one, as ‘philosophy’ and ‘organization’ themselves are not given constructs. That is, before we can even problematize this relationship, we have to first envisage the destruction of philosophy and organization.

Previously, we argued about the four premises needed –in our view—to construct a relationship amid philosophy and MOS that enhance their social contribution and boost MOS scholarship. Those premises are –regarding both disciplines— the delimitation of their inter-action field, the enablement of a respectful relationship framework, the development of reciprocal curiosity, and, finally, the movement from a prescriptive theoretical reflection to a more powerful academic practice.

Confluences and interchanges between disciplines are a central issue for interdisciplinary studies. Authors like Mäki ( 2016 ) have proposed the development of a new branch of philosophy of science called “philosophy of interdisciplinarity (PhID)”. That philosophy considers that one objective of PhID is to analyze “contactual information” (why disciplines contact others and the specific outcomes of these contacts). This huge work requires the collaboration—among other fields—of social epistemology, social philosophy, and social ontology with philosophy of science. Mäki ( 2016 ) believes that this “heavily collective” effort towards the understanding of interdisciplinarity from a philosophical lens should have two initial objectives. The first is to develop a systematic research agenda and the second to publish work jointly authored by philosophers, other scholars, and practitioners. These two objectives are also applicable to interdisciplinary collaborations between philosophy and MOS.

However, if philosophers want to develop interdisciplinary work with other disciplines, the characterization of philosophy should be modified. As Hoffman et al. ( 2013 : 1858) write.

interdisciplinarity can be perceived as a more fundamental challenge to philosophy itself; that is, as a challenge to the self-understanding and self-conceptualization of philosophy as an academic discipline, including its forms of institutionalization with funding procedures, academic careers, course programs, and teaching methods. (…). Philosophy ‘as’ interdisciplinarity calls for intensive and explicit philosophical engagement with ‘the world out there.’

As with all knowledge fields, philosophy has crystalized practices derived from the accumulation of symbolic capital over the years. For Frodeman ( 2013 : 1018), “twentieth century philosophy has been unhealthily insular”, so he calls for “the de-disciplining of philosophy.” Thus, philosophers should actively engage with ongoing problems (and the associated scientific debates). He considers that “[p]hilosophers need to get out of the study, and into the field.” (Frodeman 2013 : 1018).

All these proposals could widen the interaction opportunities between philosophy and MOS. Therefore, philosophy could facilitate compromising with MOS. So, although philosophy and MOS have had relevant connections throughout history, the future deepening of their links remains uncertain. We explain below how such a deepening could strongly benefit the advancement of MOS from their present situation.

Interaction with Philosophy as a Means to Overcome the Stagnation of MOS: Dedisciplinizing the Philosophy

The interest of the argument by O’Doherty on the philosophical connections of Burrell and Morgan ( 1979 ) (discussed in Sect. 3) illustrates a key question: should MOS be infused with philosophical premises? To answer affirmatively would imply supposing that MOS and philosophy are on the same plane of intellectual work. That is, a fruitful interaction between the two could be considered despite their considerable differences in objectives, approaches, and practices. This aporia could be overcome by specifying the level of interaction to be achieved between MOS and philosophy. On a radical level, both work on the human, their links with themself and other human beings, and what contextualizes them. By sharing this radical concern, it has been possible to develop collaborations in different areas, such as ethics or ontology. However, at a more superficial level (that on which MOS and philosophy meet due to their respective academic development), the differences become larger, hindering interaction.

As a social science, MOS have different methodological and teleological horizons from philosophy. Regarding philosophers, the freedom to elaborate new approaches is apparently broader (Laplane et al. 2019 ), even when each is framed in a certain philosophical tradition. They appear authorized to unlimitedly expand the tradition they ascribe to, which usually means departing (fighting fiercely at times) from other traditions. For social scientists who cultivate MOS, the degrees of freedom appear smaller since their mental frames are more clearly or apparently more rigidly defined. That is, the epistemological limits of action are expressly proclaimed and would be accepted more submissively.

Both fields (philosophy and MOS) are subject to the institutional (academic) context in which they are cultivated. Therefore, they share the obstacles to freedom of thought typical of their political dynamics (Bourdieu 1975 ). However, both are losing their real impact on societies as technoscientific change promotes historical transformations. Some philosophers advocate more intense participation in social debates (Epstein 2015 ), which would require dedisciplinizing the philosophy (Frodeman 2013 ) and extending their collaborations with other fields of knowledge (Hoffman et al. 2013 ). That is, their lack of social projection is mainly due to the disciplinary framework despite their strong capacity to open new paths of thought. The dedisciplinizing of philosophy should also regard the nature of the discussions within the field, and its links to reality in a broad sense, as Norrie ( 2018 : 647) says.

[T]he most plausible attempt at a non-partisan, umbrella philosophy has probably been the view that philosophy aims at a theory of the most general features of reality, over and above the particular theoretical domains of the sciences.

On the side of organizational scholars, the debate on the lack of relevance has a long history, which has intensified since the 1980s (Palmer et al. 2009 ).

This growing lack of relevance relates to, firstly, the definition of the social groups towards which the results of MOS scholars are directed. An important literature current considers that the main group is the managers (Palmer et al. 2009 ). Second, it relates to generating useful knowledge for managers and its transmission to them (Shapiro et al. 2007 ). Finally, it relates to the balance between rigour, relevance, and institutional structure (Bennis and O’Toole 2005 ; Gulati 2007 ). It should also be noted that the managers’ training needs, and the results of MOS research that could be useful to them, are also changing. Proof of this is the Rethinking the MBA project undertaken at the Harvard Business School in 2008, one century after its foundation. Such a project, among the imperatives for change in training MBA students, includes concerns for ‘research lacks relevance’, as well as on “the need for broader research approaches” (Datar et al. 2010 ).

This essay has a worry for the MOS social impact. A more fruitful inter-action amidst philosophy and MOS could pave the way for a higher social impact. This improved inter-action could get over the MOS impasse facing the mammoth challenges of this time. In the following section we discuss this issue.

Towards more Useful MOS: Philosophy and Social Sciences

The social impact of mos.

One of the symptoms of the crisis afflicting MOS is the growing debate concerning the utility or social impact of their products. Several works have recently addressed this issue, focusing on aspects such as the contributions of organizational development (OD) to organizational change (Cummings and Cummings 2020 ); the refocusing of the debate on relevance from a more rigorous elaboration of the theory (Kieser et al. 2015 ); a more complete characterization of the concept of impact, considering its scholarly, practical, societal, policy, and educational dimensions (Wickert et al. 2021 ); the role of consultants as intermediaries between management science and management practice (Bouwmeester, Heusinkveld and Tjemes, 2021); and a more comprehensive conceptualization of the theory from a typology of the same that includes explaining, comprehending, ordering, enacting, and provoking (Sandberg and Alvesson 2021 ).

An inextricable relationship exists between academic activities of education and research in MOS, whose impact on societies plagued by injustice, environmental disasters, and scandalous business ethics should be analyzed reflexively (Cunliffe 2020 ). This educational and research resource comprises criticizing and questioning the premises and practices conventionally assumed in organizations.

One must be careful not to fall into the reductionisms that abound when attempting to extrapolate critical theory to MOS. Thus, with the main reference to the works of Adorno ( 1998 ) and Benjamin ( 1996 ), it is noteworthy that all criticism, to be so, must be immanent. That is, it must be embedded in the social and political context of the historical moment in which it occurs. In the words of Böhm ( 2007 : 109),

‘Immanent critique’ asks how a phenomenon – for example, a phenomenon of organization – stands in relation to the antagonisms of society, and whether there are any techniques to confront and overcome these antagonisms. Only if one is immanently involved with these antagonisms one can speculate about a way beyond them.

Without losing sight of the immanent criticism, Cunliffe relates reflexivity to foresight and imagination to break the growing reductionism in MOS academic activity through Ingold’s ( 2011 ) metaphor of “wayfaring” (Cunliffe 2018 ). It is interesting to note the echoes existing between Ingold’s wayfaring and Heidegger’s erring: ‘[M]an’s flight from the mystery towards what is readily available, onwards from one current thing to the next, passing the mystery by –this is erring’ (Heidegger 1978 : 133).

Both concepts allude to the loss people suffer when wandering, which causes concealment of the truth. In a sense, this tendency towards failure characterizes philosophical activity (Kaulingfreks 2007 : 43):

Philosophy is in this sense opposed to science. It is a discipline of failure and is directed to not knowing. Philosophy is the discipline that knows that it does not know. Nicholas of Cusanas explained this paradoxical situation as docta ignorantia. (…) Wisdom is to see the borders of our knowledge.

From the viewpoint of scientific research in MOS, it would be necessary to avoid the danger of being irrelevant in the debates that, in society as a whole and all types of organizations, develop concerning the historical challenges humanity faces. If it is considered that the ethical and effective response to these grand challenges implies overcoming a neoliberal mentality, it may be agreed that a new MOS model integrating philosophy is not only convenient but necessary. In effect, philosophy is a useless activity within the dominant ideological framework, considering that useful activities serve to achieve a certain economic end (Kaulingfreks 2007 ).

Common Sense in the Social Sciences

While the social sciences operate with concepts based on common sense, philosophy analyzes how that common sense is presumed (Spoelstra 2007 ). What is commonly understood as reality and people’s relationship with it would be the caesura between social sciences and philosophy. Now, this caesura could exist only at the level of demand established socially towards the practices and results of social science. If contemporary social science is required to achieve nothing more than a series of developments with more or less relation to reality – as is generally assumed – no philosophical reflection is necessary. However, when the researcher, or certain social groups, are dissatisfied with the socially sanctioned image of reality (that is, when the status quo is questioned), that first level of scientific relationship with reality is insufficient. It is necessary to analyze the overlaps between the different levels of social activity. So, the social scientist should realize a series of acts based on their ethical principles. As explained below, the concept of parrhesia combines these ethical and political dimensions.

The convergence point of our rationale is parrhesia. Academic parrhesia is a powerful tool to renew fields that (as MOS) show a growing social impact depletion. One reason is that to speak truth to the people driving academic fields can be, sometimes, the only way to infuse fresh ideas in the scholastic debates. Another one is to prevent that academic capitalism (through its symbolic capital accumulation) can impose a MOS research agenda focused only on the interests of some agents, like big corporations.

Parrhesia, as an ascetical practice rooted in the ethical betterment of the parrhesiastic (παρρησíαστες, who exercises parrhesia), is built on longstanding philosophical workings. But also has a transformative potential on the parrhesiastic’s community. The parrhesiastic can serve as a role model for their peers fearful to say what they really think. In times of profound crises (as the ones we are living now in MOS and, more generally, in society as a whole), parrhesia could be the beacon that shed light on new paths. Paths guided by a social members’ clear ethical compromise. As Foucault say (1999: 7/67), considering the relationships between parrhesia and politics as them appear in Euripides plays,

…[ P ] arrhesia is an essential characteristic of Athenian democracy. (…) parrhesia was a guideline for democracy as well as an ethical and personal attitude characteristic of the good citizen.

Parrhesia, then, is a mighty lever to revitalize ethical compromises within communities (as MOS scholarship) as well as societies laid at critical crossroads. In the next section we examine this topic.

In ancient Greece, from c. V BC until c. V AD, the concept of parrhesia developed as an interaction between ethics and the political performance of the individual (Foucault 1999 ). The parrhesiastic assumes a risk (even death) by telling the truth to the powerful, be it the sovereign or society. Therefore, the behaviour of parrhesiastic links the personal dimension of caring for oneself with the collective dimension of caring for others. The long tradition of studying parrhesia was brilliantly continued by Foucault ( 1999 ) as part of his interest in the links between power and truth (Cooper, Ezzamel & Willmott, 2008 : 680). The parrhesiastic speaks when and how they deem appropriate, animated by a desire that others act virtuously, in the sense of living their life in accordance with the truth. Starting from this principle of conduct (telling the truth and ensuring others do the same), they adopt a political position without calculating what effects their proclamation will have. They do not harbour rhetorical concerns but honestly and completely state all their thoughts about an issue. With this, they consistently face the established order, whose survival is based on hypocrisy, silence, or flattery. Therefore, they are subversive.

Parrhesia, whose etymological meaning is ‘to say everything’ (Foucault 2004 : 36), implies accepting the risk of the reaction of power to reconsider what one can be at each moment. The person who practices parrhesia must ask themself what they want to be and what they are willing to do to achieve it. It is an act of ethical coherence that requires courage towards oneself and others since, according to Foucault ( 1999 : 2),

In parrhesía the speaker emphasizes the fact that he is both the subject of the enunciation and the subject of the enunciandum –that he himself is the subject of the opinion to which he refers. The specific ‘speech activity’ of the parrhesíastic enunciation thus takes the form: ‘I am the one who thinks this and that.’

Telling the truth is the essence of parrhesia, and how does a parrhesiastic know that they speak the truth? (Foucault 1999 : 3)

To my mind, the parrhesíastes says what is true because he knows that it is true; and he knows that it is true because it is really true. The parrhesíastes is not only sincere and says what is his opinion, but his opinion is also the truth. He says what he knows to be true (…) there is always an exact coincidence between belief and truth.

Thus, the parrhesiastic tells the truth, puts themselves in danger by doing so, and tells the listener (or listeners) how to behave. That is, they criticize the thinking or actions of another (generally, someone powerful, be it the sovereign or the people). Depending on who this other is, several types of parrhesia can be distinguished: citizen (which only Athenian citizens could exercise publicly), democratic (telling the assembly, gathered in the agora, what they do not want to hear), autocratic (telling the truth to the prince, who, if he does not want to appear a tyrant, is forbidden to ignore or punish the parrhesiastic), Socratic (when Socrates shows the ignorance or bad faith of his interlocutor) and ‘Hellenistic’ (the teacher covertly exposes the truth to their disciple) (Gros 2015 : XXX).

Based on the above, it can be deduced that practising parrhesia on the part of the faculty within and from the neoliberal university could be advisable (Rodriguez-Pomeda and Casani 2022 ). Firstly, it expresses a personal commitment to the inseparable truth of the teaching function. Secondly, it provokes a political action that aims to modify the behaviour of others to make it consistent with the truth. In a broader sense, the academic field harbours conflicts originating from the quest for power. Those who hold power exercise it to increase the cultural or symbolic capital they treasure (and can transform into other types of capital), prevent other people and groups from taking power from them, and perpetuate it through the co-option of their disciples (Bourdieu 1975 ).

If, together with these political dynamics, it is considered that the university (and, by extension, the academic field) also shows the characteristics of organizational hypocrisy – dissociation between the triple discourse of the dominant elites, that in which the organizational objectives are proclaimed, that corresponding to the decision-making, and that expressing the execution of the decisions (Brunsson 2002 ) –, the parrhesia can be a useful action of resistance.

In this context, parrhesia has a special meaning in the field of post-academic research (Hellström et al. 2003 ; Kellogg 2006 ; Ziman 2000 ). In this, the dominant economic agents set the objectives and lines of research deserving finance, seeking their benefit. Once objectives and lines have been established, the academic inner circles manage the research process. They do this by fixing the admissible methods, establishing the working conditions and, especially, controlling who can publish in scientific journals (which, to a large extent, are in the hands of an editorial syndicate (Larivière et al. 2015 )), which people and groups have access to the financing of their research activity, and who can hold positions in universities and research centres. The power of these academic inner circles is manifested in the determination of the mechanisms governing the accumulation of academic prestige and the consequent access to the advantages associated with it (however, this prestige as externalization of cultural capital is interchangeable for other types of capital).

Disciplinary knowledge appears to be among the social problems of modernity and postmodernity. The critical theory derived from the Frankfurt School is useful for the understanding of “the literary production of academic discipline.” (Agger 2013 : 3). As this author shows, the commodification of knowledge in contemporary universities requires an academic discourse intertwined with the organization of academic disciplines. The scholars dominating a scientific field shape its academic discourse (mainly published in scientific journals). Thus, they can enforce discipline within the field through some specific discourses constituting disciplinary knowledge (Agger 2013 ).

Disciplinary knowledge is the cornerstone of any scientific field, that is configurated (Bourdieu 1975 : 19, 25),

As a system of objective relations between positions already won (in previous struggles), the scientific field is the locus of a competitive struggle, in which the specific issue at stake in the monopoly of scientific authority , defined inseparably as technical capacity and social power, or, to put it another way, the monopoly of scientific competence , in the sense of a particular agent’s socially recognised capacity to speak and act legitimately (i.e. in authorised and authoritative way) in scientific matters. (…) Scientific authority is thus a particular kind of capital, which can be accumulated, transmitted, and even reconverted into other kinds of capital under certain conditions.

Academic publishing is at the core of disciplinary knowledge and, consequently, is key for hegemony within a scientific field (Weiner 1998 ). Therefore, the structure of academic fields, as well as technological changes in academic publishing, call for rethinking of academic publishing, as does the so-called “philosophy of academic publishing” (Peters et al. 2016 ).

That is the context in which the contemporary academic super-competitive atmosphere unfolds, revolving around anglophone hegemony articulated on a geopolitics/economy of knowledge, uneven writing spaces, and a publishing industrial complex, all within a framework defined by the following key dimensions: global(ization) political/knowledge economy, the state policy transfer (e.g. the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD), neoliberal rationality, globalization of academia, universities’ academic capitalism, claims for internationalization, English as lingua franca, ranking, evaluation and citation culture, entrepreneurial subjectivity, struggle over symbolic capital, and ISI journals’ visibility (Paasi, 2015: 518).

Twenty-first-century organizations are jeopardized by an increasingly intractable environment. MOS responses do not fit with that environment. Thus, a renewal of MOS is needed to build actionable ideas for current organizations and societies. Criticism has been a powerful renewal tool in all scientific fields. Following Foucault, Vandekerckhove & Langenberg ( 2012 : 35) consider that criticism is the lever of an interactive truth within organizational power games.

As power games also characterize scientific fields (including MOS), if conscientious academics (as discussed in Sects. 8 and 9) practise parrhesia as an ethical mandate facing disciplinary knowledge (Agger 2013 ), disorganization of the MOS dynamic occurs. Seeking truth is the epistemic responsibility of MOS academics (Tsui and McKiernan 2022 ), and seeking truth (“understood as a linguistic act driven by moral impulse, elicited by a critical perception and formed into a personal judgement”, Vandekerckhove and Langenberg, 2012 : 38)) requires differentiating between parrhesia and the institutionalized critique within MOS. Institutionalized critique provokes no substantial change in the academic field. However, parrhesia originates from sources differing from that institutionalized critique and has no intended effects (Vandekerckhove and Langenberg 2012 : 38 and 40):

The parrhesiastes has no agenda. Her critique is sudden and is one of ‘not this way, without alternatives, without foundation.’ (…) [p]arrhesia in organizations leads to a disorganization of the organizational dynamic, on the condition that others in the organization are prepared to hear the parrhesiastic truth-speaking (…). [i]f the organization is to continue to exist, disorganization is succeeded by a re-organization.

Therefore, if MOS are losing the ability to offer prompt responses to running organizational challenges (Starbuck 2003 ), parrhesia (linking academics telling and hearing the truth) could launch a much-needed reorganization process in the field. Parrhesia’s moral call resonates in the proposal by Mir, Willmott, and Greenwood ( 2016 : 6 and 10):

[i]t is incumbent on us all to resist continuity and to enact other forms of organizing and organization. Philosophy then becomes a dual act of disruption and creation, leading us back to life itself. (…) [a]n approach to organizational studies and research that decentres the taken-for-granted assumptions populating the ‘common sense’ of our field (…) invite a more reflective, inclusive and politically sensitive understanding of the working life and its challenges.

Performing parrhesia in the academic field where the academic super-competitive atmosphere occurs implies, as it must, certain risks for parrhesiastics. An illustration of such risks has been offered by Steele ( 2010 ) in the ​​international relations academic community. Considering these risks (along with other factors) should explain the growing deterioration of the role of teachers as examples for their students of seekers of freedom, as well as the gradual abandonment of teachers of the practice of speaking and acting together in countries such as the United Kingdom (Tamboukou 2012 ).

Parrhesia is a disposition to act based on truth to complete this proposal of academic conduct at the intersection between ethics and politics. This proposal is rooted in philosophical thoughts prior to the twelfth century. The separation between theory and practice, between thought and action, occurred much earlier than the relatively recent marketization of academic life and began with scholasticism (Case 2007 ). There is a longstanding tradition, increased after Enlightenment, of moral improvement through practising (Sloterdijk 2013 ). The integration between thought and action has already been proposed by various ancient philosophical schools, such as Stoicism (Hadot 1995 ). Briefly, as Case ( 2007 : 98) states, it would involve emphasizing ‘the importance of leading a virtuous life based on reasoned moral principles’.

Our proposal is not limited to defending a certain philosophical turn in MOS but approaching MOS from a philosophical attitude. The philosophical approach adopted so far in some areas of MOS has focused on discussing theories and concepts, the debate on the meaning and elaboration of knowledge, and, finally, studying ethics in organizations. One current also analyzes the political function of MOS, studying, and expanding, the concept of their social impact. The gigantic challenges facing contemporary societies require a clearer and broader contribution from MOS to maintain their legitimacy. Specifically, the philosophical attitude in MOS would start from the concept that, although they belong to an intellectual dimension other than philosophy, they can share some premises. Above its many differences, any rigorous perspective in the fields of MOS and philosophy should consider that both share the elaboration of abstract statements about some conceptual relationships. In philosophy, that elaboration develop specific modes of problematisation about the human (Norrie 2018 ). In MOS, that elaboration should consider empirical practices of some kinds (Clegg et al. 2022 ). The best efforts in philosophy and MOS throughout history has invited humankind to defy established ideas and to reflect on the unknown.

These include a radical critical sense that does not hesitate to question (overcome) the existing mental frameworks. Another premise is the search for the surprise that appears when approaching organizations from viewpoints other than the traditional ones (both theoretically and methodologically). The surprise is permanently hidden in the ineffable. Briefly, it is a willingness to advance in the territory of knowledge without fear of stumbling upon aporias (rather, looking for them) (Jones and ten Bos 2007b ).

To benefit from a new philosophical attitude within MOS it is worth to adopt a synoptic view. Philosophical thinking develops on three basic operations: analysis, synopsis, and synthesis (Broad 1947 ). This author considers that synopsis is “the deliberate viewing together of aspects of human experience which are generally viewed apart, and the endeavour to see how they are inter-related.” (Broad 1947 : 4). Synopsis prepares for the creative integration of some experiences’ aspects through synthesis. Notwithstanding analysis dominates actually the main part of the MOS. Gare and Neesham ( 2022 : 3) consider that “organization, as process and outcome of human action, is a complex phenomenon that requires synoptic investigation across disciplines.”

In our proposal, the idea of parrhesia has a leading role. Parrhesia is a key concept, situated between the Cynics, the Stoics, and the Epicureans (Aubert-Baillot 2015 ).

In The Porch, parrhesia appears (in texts from Zeno of Citium (after Stobaeus, Ecl. 3.14.4; 469.9–10 W. (= SVF 1.237), Marcus Aurelius, and Aristo of Chios (after Stobaeus, Ecl. 3.13.40; 462.2-4 W. (= SVF 1.383)) as a preparatory to philosophy, a must to become a sage (Aubert-Baillot 2015 : 73).

From these premises, the philosophical attitude would open new paths in the fields of knowledge and ethics in MOS. Regarding knowledge, its orderly advance requires confronting the structure and dynamics existing in the academic field of MOS. The results of the dialectic between those who treasure and defend their symbolic capital and those who wish to access it will determine the effective social contribution of those who participate in this academic field. The question is whether – among other things – our work helps solve contemporary challenges or continues to be mainly a product of self-consumption within the field oriented towards personal prestige within the current rules of the game.

Regarding ethics, it would be initially necessary to unmask the banal use of philosophy made by a significant part of the mainstream MOS and management since this use neutralizes the potential of philosophy, prevents fruitful dialogue between MOS and philosophy, and, ultimately, only seeks to reinforce the mainstream through its adornment with philosophical trifles.

Secondly, scholars must exercise themselves in the parrhesiastics’ model. The institutionalization of the academic field of MOS has led to the suppression of the individual and the collective practice of telling the truth to the powerful (those inside and outside the field, knowing that the former serves the latter). That is, our ascesis of parrhesia involves being aware that the successive compromises between ethics and politics it requires will remain imperfect since they will require accepting limitations in applying personal values.

We base our action proposal on a practice of parrhesia within MOS that starts with the fearless speech of the individual scholar and follows with a growing number of scholars doing the same.

The possible implementation this proposal should deal with the parrhesia’s political dimension that affects the organizational decision-making (as Skinner ( 2011 ) illustrates analysing parrhesia in a self-managed community devoted to organic farming), as well as with some technical problems. Among these problems, two of them are more relevant: to break down the individual’s resistance to recognize the truth, and to attain the apathetic mood that drives to self-sufficiency.

Dealing with those “technical problems” derived from the practice of parrhesia, Foucault ( 1999 : 52 ff.) studies Plutarch’s Moralia , which contains a text titled “How to tell a Flatterer from a Friend.” The friend that acts as a parrhesiastic help us to overcome our philautia (or “self-love”). This would be the first benefit that the human collectivities obtains from the practice of parrhesia. The second one, after Foucault’s reading of Plutarch, is to reinforce the steadiness of mind developed by the late Stoics (Foucault 1999 : 53). In fact, “destroying self-delusion and acquiring and maintaining continuity of mind are two ethico-moral activities which are linked to one another.” (Foucault 1999 : 53).

In the last part of Foucault ( 1999 ) appears the so-called “techniques of the parrhesiastic games.” These techniques are related to the labelled “technologies of the self”, which constitutes a relevant part of Foucault’s work (Besley 2005 ; Foucault 1988 ). To develop those parrhesiastic games technologies, there are three requirements: courage to see the truth about oneself, practice ( askesis ) of parrhesia, and situate the practice within a blurred spiritual exercises’ framework. A Stoic philosopher like Seneca (in De ira and De tranquillitate animi ) proposes self-examination as one of the main parrhesiastic exercises (Foucault 1999 : 56). Another one, Epictetus, advocates for a constant scrutiny of our representations. For him, the representations (and not the things represented) are the real perturbators of the human mind.

Foucault ( 1999 ) is a contribution “to construct a genealogy of the critical attitude in the Western philosophy” by analysing the problematization (this is, “how and why certain things (behaviour, phenomena, processes) became a problem”) of parrhesia (Foucault 1999 : 66). His analysis deals with (Foucault 1999 : 66).

These four questions about truth-telling as an activity –who is able to tell the truth, about what, with what consequences, and with what relation to power—seem to have emerged as philosophical problems towards the end of the Fifth Century around Socrates, especially through his confrontations with the Sophists about politics, rhetorics, and ethics.

Any parrhesiastic activity involves risk because the individual must assume negative consequences. For the academic parrhesiastic tenure and promotion are two high risk areas when they speak freely (Huckaby 2007 ).

In sum, we are proposing a philosophical attitude within MOS. This attitude could be extremely interesting not only for MOS scholarship, but also for managers (Ledoux 2012 ).

Sloterdijk ( 2013 ) and Hadot ( 1995 ) could contribute to design detailed links between philosophy and parrhesia as moral practice. The implementation of parrhesia is relevant for this essay’s aim because an ethical renewal of MOS scholarship is urgently needed to deal with the grand challenges from the organizational point of view. Business-as-usual is no longer an acceptable behaviour for a stagnant academic field as MOS is nowadays.

Adopting the proposed philosophical attitude through the asceticism of parrhesia would contribute to solving the question posed initially in the abstract (To dare to say the inconvenient truths to the peers (especially, to those of them with high influence on the field) can be a straightforward tool to revitalize MOS nowadays?) by finding a field of interaction between philosophy and MOS framed in respectful relationships that improve their mutual curiosity to achieve an academic practice of the richest and most powerful MOS. This path is arduous but full of meaning for those seeking the truth.

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Rodriguez-Pomeda, J. An Essay about a Philosophical Attitude in Management and Organization Studies Based on Parrhesia. Philosophy of Management 22 , 587–618 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40926-023-00232-9

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Arguably, decision making is very crucial to organizations, as well as individuals. As a matter of fact, decision making incorporates various skills, expertise, character and knowledge. The decisions made by individuals has various impacts, especially when the outcome is realized. Programmed decisions define the decisions which are made in situations that are routine, well-structured, and repetitive and predetermined decision rules. They may have a basis of established policies, habit, procedures or rules that stem from prior technical knowledge or experience concerning what can work or cannot work in given circumstances. For instance, firms usually have standard routines applicable in handling discipline of employees or complaints from customers. Notably, the problems or issued requiring programmed decisions are well-structured which imply that the manager does not face trouble or incur expenses in getting an involved process of decision making (Wagner, 2005). Importantly, these decisions have been made severally in previous occasions making managers develop guidelines or rules for application when situations occur. Additionally, these decisions are made routinely for the firm to run smoothly. The majority of these decisions has a relationship with daily activities in the firm. Consequently, errors are rare in these decisions because of the guidelines and rules that create a routine and information needed to be followed by other people. Non-programmed decisions define unique decisions that involve a solution that is custom-made. This occurs when a novel or ill-structured problem confronts a manager in a situation where the ‘cut and dried solution’ is not found. Notably, such decisions are non-recurring and unique; hence, requires a response that is custom-made (Ramalingam, 2006). For instance, a decision involving the creation of a marketing strategy in a firm is a non-programmed decision. Additionally, these decisions are a response to unusual threats and opportunities in the firm. Notably, these decisions are non-routine and involve considerable decisions that have long-term effect on the firm. Furthermore, these decisions require no guidelines or rules because of the uncertain or unexpected situations. Crucial to note, making these decisions is likely to result to, errors and cause more problems due to new challenges and relying on intuition for quick response to these concerns. Juliet is required to make a non-programmed decision in her firm. This is because she is supposed to decide on whether the graduate recruitment program that has operated for five years will be required next year due to the economic state (Sanderson, 2006). This decision is new at the firm because this is the first time the program is operating in the firm, in such state of the economy. This is an unusual situation involving a different decision because of the new condition or state of the economy in the firm. This implies that there are certain conditions that have changed in the firm in this case the state of the economy. This decision is also long-term rather than related to daily activities of the organization. This is because the decision that Juliet will make will determine whether the firm will sustain the program on the long-term basis or not. This is because the state of the economy may not be predictable (Schultz, 1981). Additionally, this state of the economy is an unusual threat in the firm as it may result in an end of the graduate recruitment program which offers opportunities in the firm. Therefore, a non-programmed decision is required to provide a way ahead to make certain that the firm does not succumb to the threat. This implies that Juliet has to be extra careful due to likely errors and problems that may result. The two models of decision making are classical and administrative. Classical model is an approach that is prescriptive outlining how managers should make their decisions. It is also known as rational model. This model has a basis of economic assumptions asserting that managers are rational, logical individuals making decisions in the best interest of the firm. On the other hand, behavioral model is a descriptive approach outlining how managers do make decisions. This is also known as organizational, or neo classical (Kolbin, 2003). The classical or rational economic model focuses on how decisions should be made. The model has an assumption that the decision maker is ultimately rational. This implies that such an individual seeks to utilize a process that is planned, consistent, orderly and unbiased. Also, assumes that decision makers have all information they require in making decisions and considers all possible alternatives. The decision maker is expected to select the best or optimum choice (Emory, 2001). Notably, decision making progresses in the order of a sequence of steps. These are identifying the problem, developing criteria where alternative solutions are evaluated, identifying alternative courses of action, evaluating of alternatives, selecting the best alternative and implementing the best of all the options. Behavioral or administrative model describes how decisions are made. Decision makers simplify problems making them less complex because their individual capabilities are limited by the conditions of the firm such as availability of resources. This model has assumptions that decision makers perform with bounded or limited rationality. This implies that decision makers become rational within a model that is simplified. This may which contain limited components such as options or criteria of decision making. They also assume that decision makers identify criteria of decision making that is limited, examine limited alternatives, which are highly visible and easy or those slightly different from the status quo. The decision makers do not possess all information required in making a decision. The decision makers select an alternative that is satisfactory and good enough to meet the minimum criteria required for a desired solution. Decision making is a sequential process where alternatives are examined, and the best is selected (Byrd, 1982). Juliet will use behavioral model in making her decision. This is because her situation is unusual in the organization. This implies that she has limited options and criteria in making her decision. This is because this problem is new in the firm which means that there are no set rules and procedures to be applied in making this decision. Juliet will use this model because she does not have all information required to handle this issue and make decisions. This is simply because this problem has not been handled before in the organization thus there is no information to refer to and make this process easy. Notably, the firm does not have a sequence or procedure to be followed in making this decision because it is new at the firm (Lindley, 2005). Juliet has to apply this model in order to search for the best alternatives, examine and evaluate them well and choose the best option in making her decision. She should do this keenly as this will have a long-term effect on the future of the firm. In this situation, Juliet may decide that the firm will need the graduate recruitment program next year on the basis of some factors. She has to make her decision by identifying all options and selecting the best of them all. Some crucial in this decision include availability of financial resources to support the program (Beerman, 2002). This implies that Juliet has to consider the resources required in running the program and the firm should cater for these costs. The firm should have strategies of ensuring that this program is sustained at all times of different states of the economy. This implies that the firm should not strain financially in supporting the program as this may drain the resources in the firm. The decision has to be backed up by her boss and other administrators in charge. The decision Juliet will make has to be in agreement with the higher administrators in the firm. This implies that she should analyze her decision and provide support why she is making that decision. Her points should be well analyzed to ensure that they are easy to understand and present them to the other administrators. This is essential in determining whether her decision will be implemented or dismissed. The firm should also be in a position to implement this program without straining. This will ensure smooth running of the program at different economic status of the firm. Additionally, the short-term and long-term benefit of the program to the firm is a factor that will play a role in her decision. Juliet should analyze the benefit of the program to the firm. This implies that the program will be needed if there are benefits attached to it. The program should have positive results both experienced and anticipated benefits such as improved process of recruitment and improved staff (Zey, 1992). The decisions have been made severally in previous occasions making managers develop guidelines or rules for application when situations occur. Juliet is required to make a non-programmed decision in her firm. This is because she is supposed to decide on whether the graduate recruitment program. Non-programmed decisions define unique decisions that involve a solution that is custom-made. In general perspective, it is clear that decision making should be made in a rational manner regardless of the type of managerial decision process. The model used in making decisions should focus on short term and long term effects.

Beerman, S., & Musson, J. (2002). Eldercare 911: the caregiver's complete handbook for making decisions. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. Byrd, J., & Moore, L. T. (1982). Decision models for management. New York: McGraw-Hill. Emory, W., & Niland, P. (2001). Making management decisions. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Juniper, D. F. (1998). Making decisions how to develop effective skills for making good decisions.. Oxford: How To Books. Kolbin, V. V. (2003). Decision making and programming. River Edge, N.J.: World Scientific. Lindley, D. V. (2005). Making decisions. London: Wiley-Interscience. Ramalingam, P. R. (2006). Systems analysis for managerial decisions: a computer approach. New York: Wiley. Sanderson, C. J. (2006). Analytical models for decision making. Maidenhead: Open University Press. Schultz, R. L. (1981). Marketing decision models. New York: North Holland. Sengupta, J. (1982). Decision models in stochastic programming: operational methods of decision making under uncertainty. New York: North Holland Wagner, H. M. (2005). Principles of operations research: with applications to managerial decisions. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. Zey, M. (1992). Decision making: alternatives to rational choice models. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage


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Management People and Organizations


Organizational environment and work relations have a great impact on an employee and his motivation, objectives, and personal achievements. For this reason, every employer tries to select the best place he/she can contribute to and fulfill his life aims and career goals. The essay examines scenario 2 as a place to work with a large professional firm. The paper aims to explain why my personal needs and values, expectations, and career goals are met by this organization. The essay also addresses the general environment that affected the organization and its business-level strategy, competitive position, and organization structure. The essay concludes by explaining why scenario twp meets my values and expectations and is the best place for me to work.

Needs, values, and expectations

Needs, values, and expectations are the main factors affecting employees and their achievements. In the selected organization, effectiveness is construed as changing the environment, reducing costs, improving the quality of life, reaching a high-quality decision, being seen as effective, improving return on investment, lowering the crime rate, or any number of things. Following Armstrong (2001), effectiveness is certainly no one thing, not even within a work unit or a single problem. Many acts may be construed as effective and they all maybe if they attack different facets of a problem. One act may increase profits, another may improve working relationships, and each may negate the effects of the other. Since effectiveness is a value judgment, we believe it must be given meaning within a specific context.

The chosen organization meets my personal values and supports my personal goals. According to Senior (2001) “personal values developed early in life may be resistant to change. They derived from those of particular groups or systems, such as culture or religion” (p. 92). This company allows me to work hard and make money. The main problem of modern organizations is that they need an average employee who works 5-8 hours a day and is deprived of an opportunity for career promotion. The professional firm allows me to prove my professional knowledge and skills. Working 10-12 hours per day, I will not find another job as an additional source of income. I suppose that employee-job performance is a function of ability, job design, and motivation. If the employee has the adequate ability and the job is designed well, then performance is solely dependent on the level of motivation. Assuming ability and job design are in order, high motivation becomes a necessary and sufficient condition for high performance. Work should be beneficial because only in this case it is interested and rewarding. The job in a large professional company will help me to prove my abilities and skills. On the other hand, low ability and faulty job design limit the effect of effort on performance.

My work needs will also be fulfilled because I want to have a chance to be promoted and earn much. Following Robbins (2002) for employees to perceive that effort will in fact result in performance, they must sense they either have the ability or can easily get it. Providing readily available help, or guidance, makes them feel they can easily gain the required skills and knowledge if they do not already possess them. I must know that when I run into difficulties because of a skill or knowledge deficiency, I have ready access to a source that can resolve the deficiency. Accessible help allows me to sense that the lacking ability is not a “block” to performance. A supervisor, available to willingly provide help when such is needed, is one key source. Supervisors should let employees know that one of their major functions as supervisors is to provide help when it is really needed. I like variety in my work, so the company will help me to fulfill this personal need. Perhaps too often supervisors make themselves unavailable either by not being around or by giving the impression subordinates should not “bother” them with problems.

Rewards must not only rise with improvements in performance, they must rise substantially. The greater the reward increase for a given change in performance, the greater the motivational impact of the reward. If an organization’s rewards are only slightly or moderately contingent on performance, it may not be enough to make the employee fully realize that performance does make a difference. Every employee has an awareness threshold, and the rewards one experiences must be high enough dependent on performance to break through this threshold. In the eyes of the employee, the rewards associated with high performance must be significantly greater than the rewards associated with low performance.

The increase in rewards for given units of increase in performance must be sufficient overall ranges of performance too. For example, simply providing relatively high reward increases for changes in performance over the medium to high ranges of performance may not motivate if relatively small reward increases are provided over low ranges of performance. But rewards will not motivate unless a relatively large percentage of the total reward package–of the different kinds of rewards offered by the organization-is made dependent on performance. I prefer to control my tasks and assignments and be responsible for their quality and complexion. There should be at least some performance-contingent rewards for each of the five types of basic human needs–physiological, safety and security, social and belongingness, esteem and status, and self-actualization. I suppose that work should provide significant rewards and financial growth. The professional company gives a chance to employees express their opinion and needs. I need that my work will be meaningful and become a part of my life. I hope that this work will provide an opportunity to strengths my abilities and talents.

My life expectancy is to become a very well-paid expectative. Expectations are defined as “events likely to happen” (Senior, 2001, p. 98). People feel better about themselves when they look better when they know it, and when they know others know it. I suppose that my ‘dream’ can be fulfilled by hard work and self-improvement, training, and effective support from management. Employees will be convinced they are maintaining or improving their competencies to perform if they have periodic opportunities to participate in formal training programs. Having employees frequently upgrade their skills through training increases performance directly, of course, because employee ability, affected through training, along with motivation and job design are the primary determinants of the quality and level of their performance. But the training also boosts performance through its indirect effect on motivation. When people are trained well, they believe their efforts can pay off. Ability is not perceived as a barrier. A strong contingent relationship is seen between effort and performance. To sense a strong performance-reward correlation, one must sense that rewards are received on a performance contingent basis. One must get high rewards for high performance and low rewards for low performance. One must not feel that rewards are experienced independent of performance.

General Environment

Companies do not operate in a vacuum but interact with other originations and communities in general. For this reason, the general environment influences the organization and its strategies. Taking into account the nature of work and the industry, competition and economic demand will have an impact on an organization’s operations and performance. At the conceptual level, strategic credibility may confer a “competitive advantage to those firms that are successful in sustaining a positive strategic image over time” (Campbell, 1997, p. 34). If “reputation” constitutes a barrier to entry, as some have claimed, certainly strategic credibility is one important element in a firm’s “reputation.” Another benefit of strategic credibility is a potential reduction in the cost of capital. Credibility and the disclosure of strategic information services to reduce investor perceptions of risk and uncertainty, lowering the expected rate of return on their investment–or so the financial theory goes. A shifting environment may require a departure or change in corporate strategy. Many corporate executives concluded that, on balance, the benefits of communicating strategy outweighed the potential problems. They also suggested ways of minimizing negative outcomes. The company should resist competition and innovate in order remain competitive (Doyle & Stern 2006).

Following Campbell (1997) communications about the future are of special importance. While various stakeholders are interested in a company’s candid appraisal of poor performance, they can be even more sensitive to information about management’s strategic intentions which allow them to make judgments about future corporate prospects. Here, the experiences of some of our companies diverge from the results reported in the global strategic communications survey. It departed from the more usual corporate practice (according to respondents in our study) of “providing little information that would tend to reduce future uncertainty” (Campbell1997, p. 87). Another important communications characteristic is simplicity; keep the strategy message simple, but communicate it with great frequency. Also, resist the temptation to rest on one’s laurels when things seem to be going well; avoid complacency and the “frontrunner” phenomenon. The job of strategic communications is never done. Also, self-serving attributions that take too much credit for good performance while blaming poor performance on uncontrollable, external factors can erode strategic credibility (Doyle & Stern 2006).

Another important factor that forces the organization to innovate is technological changes. Technology has been forcing and enabling organizations to become more competitive. Technology is also changing the nature of work. For example, telecommunications already makes it relatively easy for many to work at home, and the use of computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) systems plus robotics is booming. Manufacturing advances like these will continue to eliminate blue-collar jobs, replacing them with jobs requiring greater skill, and these new workers will require a degree of training and commitment that their parents never dreamed of. As a result, to remain competitive, jobs and organizational charts will have to continue to be redesigned, new incentive and compensation plans instituted, new job descriptions written, and new employee selection, evaluation, and training programs instituted—all with the help of HRM. Technological innovations will help the professional organization to compete with other companies and deliver high-quality services to potential buyers. Without innovations, the company will fail to meet changing demand and can lose its brand image (Doyle & Stern 2006).

A business-level strategy

Businesses seek to influence potential customers to purchase their products and services through a process of differentiation. The benefit of differentiating an offering from that of the competitor is that it encourages initial customer purchase and ongoing customer loyalty. It may also enable a price premium to be commanded. The way in which a business differentiates can be considered using a simple matrix. The business-level strategy accepted by the company is uniqueness. Following Schien (1996) “this is where the business provides a distinct basis of differentiation (uniqueness perceived by the customer and regarded as valuable) which enables the business to be won and normally a price premium attracted” (p. 82). Uniqueness will help the company to sustain credibility and strong brand image, compete with other service providers and ensure high profits and growth rates. There is a further choice that defines the breadth of the competitive arena in which the business operates.

Industry-wide — this is where the business operates across the breadth of the industry providing products/services for a wide range of customer needs. Particular segment only — in this context the business has chosen to concentrate attention on a defined segment of the market. Competitive positioning enables a tailored approach to be adopted. Following Campbell (1997) in turn, this may lead to cost efficiency by ensuring that only the specific competitive requirements of the segment are addressed rather than, for example, market/industry-wide differentiation approaches which may add significant cost. The differentiation strategy is often the most attractive’ in that it provides the opportunity for a more creative approach to the market. For this reason, the organization tends to be marketing-led. It is vital in these business units that the cost/benefit analysis of any new form of differentiation is thoroughly evaluated. In addition, sensitivity analysis must be used to look at the viability of the associated cost base at different levels of sales performance and in different market conditions (Paley, 2006).

The primary challenge with differentiation is one of competitor replication, where the advantage is temporary and, once replicated, becomes an increase in the industry/market cost base for all competitors. This upward migration of the cost base can over time destroy an attractive market segment. It is these tensions between either providing a differentiated approach to match customer needs and gain competitive advantage, or pursuing cost leadership to gain profit margin and value advantage, that often leads in practice to a mixed approach. This means that the advantages of neither competitive position are achieved. This being stuck in the middle’ yields no competitive advantage and erodes the position of the business unit. When using the matrix, care needs to be taken to ensure that the stated competitive positions reflect reality rather than management perception. In some markets, several competitors will see themselves as being differentiated and therefore positioned in the system’ box. If these individual forms of perceived differentiation are not valued highly by the customer no real competitive advantage has been attained (Paley, 2006).

Organizational Structure

The centralized, highly integrated organizational structure of corporate communications is the best one for a large professional organization. This structure allows management to provide integration and coordination across a number of diverse functional areas and between several organizational levels. Internal communications with employees are closely coordinated with external interaction with the financial community (Robbins, 2002). Centralization is defined as “a process by which the activities of an organization, usually concerning decision-making, become concentrated within a particular group” (senior 2001, p. 104). Divisional management’s contributions have to be integrated with headquarters staff and senior management. An absence of coordination/integration produces disarray and a lack of discipline and focus in corporate communications. Organizational arrangements are directed by manufacturer-distributor-retailer relationships. Where a large manufacturer is linked to numerous small distributors, the manufacturer emphasizes marketing leadership. Where a large distributor such as a wholesaler deals with a large number of manufacturers, retailers, or both, he furnishes the leadership. Organizations are patterns or arrangements designed to achieve goals.

They transform a group of unrelated marketing activities into a cohesive system. As systems, they focus on actual authority structures, communications networks, interrelationships of elements, and the functioning of an organization and its process, rather than on the structure portrayed by static organization charts and the organization attributes capable of achieving goals. The organization should introduce formal communication based on centralized decision-making (Robbins, 2002). Implementation of the marketing-management concept has resulted in more operationally structured organizations. In centralized organizations, strategies are chosen and standards are set by various managers to achieve what they feel is important and to evaluate effectiveness. Situations are highly organized and formalized but still result in conflict and confusion (Schien, 1996). For example, conflicting directives may be given from one source to increase sales, from another to reduce advertising, and from a third to limit style changes. Plans and procedures will help the company to avoid mistakes and indecision (Robbins, 2002).

At the large professional organization, systems emphasize the integration and coordination of functions and facilities, the adaptation of organizations to their internal and external environments, the impact of changes in one part of the organization on others, the resources necessary to support the organization system itself, the resources necessary to achieve goals, and the ends mean relationship. Systems stress the interrelationships or connectedness of organizations. Although the structure, or formal part, of an organization, can be easily portrayed, the informal organization, the part that greatly affects behavior and performance, cannot. Task delegation will be introduced at all management levels (Schien, 1996). A business is a social system whose efficiency is influenced greatly by interpersonal relationships. Thus, to understand a marketing organization is to understand more than its formal structure. No one organizational scheme can be developed, or a set of principles established, that can specify the best organization for a company. But knowledge of factors influencing organizational behavior, of the impact of market forces, of organization concepts, and of alternative tools for coordinating and integrating human effort, can furnish a basis for approaching the problems of marketing organization (Senior, 2001).

The rationale for this structure is that a large part of the marketing manager’s responsibility is the change in the structure of his organization. He must challenge accepted methods of organizing activities, for, in marketing, correct and permanent organizational arrangements do not exist. Self-image building can come in various forms but may involve something relatively simple like getting workers to improve their physical appearance through better dress and grooming. One of the overriding conclusions of the effort-net return model of motivation is that you do not just simply provide the employee with valued rewards-rewards matched to his or her needs–to motivate. You must be sure those rewards are experienced contingent on performance. If rewards are contingent on performance, employees have to know it in order for the rewards to be motivational (Senior, 2001). Casual awareness is not enough. They should be acutely sensitive to the fact. To build this sensitivity, managers can frequently and enthusiastically talk about how performance is the only means for employees to realize successes and enjoy satisfaction. Managers must emphasize that the only way you get ahead in the company is to produce; the only way you get your income up is to produce; the only way you gain real job security is to produce (Armstrong, 2001).

The analysis of scenario two shows that organizational growth depends on effective operations and performance, employees’ commitment, and organizational structure. This scenario has been chosen because it meets and reflects my career goals and life expectations, personal needs, and values so important for every employee. Marketing organization and leadership are concerned with both internal organization and the development of systems. This organization is able to meet external and internal needs and innovate. Without it, there is nothing. Frequent discussions informally, in meetings, and in written communiqués will sensitize employees to the fact that performance counts for something. Managers would do well to emphasize the dependency of specific rewards on performance.


Armstrong, M. 2001, Human Resource Management . 8 th edn. Kogan Page.

Campbell, D.J. 1997, Organizations and the Business Environment . Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Doyle, P. Stern, Ph. 2006, Marketing Management and Strategy . Financial Times/ Prentice Hall; 4 edition.

Paley, N. 2006, The Manager’s Guide to Competitive Marketing Strategies . Thorogood.

Robbins, S. 2002, Organizational Behavior . Pearson Higher.

Schien, E. H. 1996, Organizational Culture and Leadership . Jossey-Bass

Senior, Barbara. 2001, Organizational Change , Capstone Publishing.

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BusinessEssay. (2022, December 18). Management People and Organizations. https://business-essay.com/management-people-and-organizations/

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Organizational, Leadership, and Management Theories Essay


Various forms of power can be seen in the workplace or related environments. French and Raven developed Five Forms of Power that include legitimate, reward, expert, referent, and coercive. In a business setting, reward power is experienced when a leader is perceived to grant valuable rewards if those under them undertake his or her guidelines (Chapman & Scouller, 2020).

For example, at the end of the year, many companies share a given profit percentage with their highly performed employees who meet a certain criterion of work. The power is effective since it probes workers to put all their efforts into daily duties. The power reduces conflict because employees are significantly self-controlled (Chapman & Scouller, 2020). Coercive power is one where power comes from the aspect that a leader can take stern actions or punitive measures against those who do not follow instructions. For example, supervisors often threaten to terminate unproductive employees in a casual business setting. The power is ineffective since it brings a cold war between the supervisor and the workers (Kovach, 2020). Thus, it frequently brings internal and unhealthy politics that make working difficult.

Legitimate power is one where a person’s position in work gives the liberty to issue orders. In a business setting, a manager assigns his or her junior a project that requires certain criteria and monitoring progress (Kovach, 2020). The power is effective since it ensures timely completion of tasks and does not bring conflict but rather teamwork in work. Expert power comes when one has superior knowledge or experience in a given task in the workplace (Chapman & Scouller, 2020). For example, software engineers frequently breach working policies while solving a specific digital program, which may make them snub all other duties or even come late to work. The power is effective because it allows the prioritized task to complete and gives team optimism that results in harmony hence, no collisions or politics.

Referent power streams from a leader’s traits and characteristics, such as charisma, image, and background (Chapman & Scouller, 2020). In a business setting, the director or proprietor of the enterprise is respected by everyone due to their capacity to create jobs for others. The power is effective as it enables all duties to be implemented on time and allows the subordinates to commit to the objectives of the business hence, high chances of a peaceful working environment.

Chapman, A., & Scouller, J. (2020). Sources of leadership power – French and Raven . BusinessBalls.com . Web.

Kovach, M. (2020). Leader influence: A research review of French & Raven’s (1959) power dynamics. Journal of Values-Based Leadership , 13 (2), 5–11. Web.

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    Processes provide a likely solution. In the broadest sense, they can be defined as collections of tasks and activities that together — and only together — transform inputs into outputs. Within organizations, these inputs and outputs can be as varied as materials, information, and people. Common examples of processes include new product ...

  4. Organizational Management Essay Examples and Topics

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  5. Organisational Management

    Organisational Management Essay Exclusively available on IvyPanda Updated: Jan 10th, 2024 Table of Contents Functional Organisational Structure The structure is designed on hierarchies such that positions as well as functions of each individual within the company are clearly stated.

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  7. Full article: Organizational strategy and its implications for

    In this review essay, we want to capitalise on this opportunity by (1) providing a review of organisational strategy literature and (2) bringing it to bear on strategic and security studies. ... Business Strategy and the Environment, Human Relations, European Management Review and Organization Studies, amongst others. His research interests ...

  8. Essay On Organization and Management

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  9. Sample Essays on Organization and Management

    Organization and Management Essays Essay 2: Social Responsibility The many benefits of social responsibility to an enterprise include the ability to transform their diverse processes and systems so they deliver the greatest value to the environment while reducing costs and emissions, in addition to streamlining new product development and introduction strategies.

  10. Organizing Function of Management Essay

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    Organizational and management analysis are an essential part of organizational environment. In the modern world, working environment characteristics are team work, delegation, information technology interfaces, which have an impact on the effectiveness of organization and management.

  12. Leadership in Organization

    Leadership is applicable in the nurturing and development of constructive behavior patterns and organizational culture (DuBrin, 2011). There are several disparities between leadership and management processes. For example, unlike management, leadership operates to develop concepts and principles.

  13. Essay on Organisation

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  14. Essay on Management: Top 9 Essays

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  15. Organization and Management Essay

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  16. Management and Organisational Behaviour

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  17. An Essay about a Philosophical Attitude in Management and Organization

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  18. Management And Management Essay

    Better Essays. 1740 Words. 7 Pages. Open Document. According to Henri Fayol, managers perform five basic functions; planning, organizing, leading, commanding, and controlling. Managers also adapt to assuming multiple roles, enabling them to comfortably transition between being a Monitor, a liaison, a disseminator, a resource allocator, and more.

  19. Organization And Management Essay

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  20. Essay on Management and Leadership

    What is management? According to Kinicki Williams textbook "Management, management is defined as the pursuit of organizational goals efficiently and effectively by integrating the work of people through planning, organizing, leading, and controlling the organization resources (Ch. 1, pg. 5 Management: A practical introduction).

  21. Management People and Organizations Essay Example [Free]

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  22. Organizational, Leadership, and Management Theories Essay

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  23. Essay on Organizational Management

    Essay on Organizational Management. Normally Organizational change is about the important major changes in an organization such as adding or inclusion of a major new product or services in production as well into the market. It contradicts minor changes within an organization like adoption of new computer software.