Example Of Strengths And Weaknesses Of Managerial Research Essay
Management plays a crucial role in business and organizations, because particularly this function is designed to coordinate efforts of people, aimed at using available resources effectively and efficiently to implement objectives of the organization. Importance of managerial work for success of both business and public administration determines interest towards researching into the role a manager plays in different types of organizations and the ways effectiveness of managerial work can be increased. Presence of significant body of previous research on these issues requires critical reconsideration of ideas on the role of a manager within an organization, as well as approaches to determining the role of researching specific managerial functions (e.g, teamwork) for developing an understanding of managerial work.
The need for shaping an integrated understanding of the managerial work determines the following structure of this paper. Firstly, strengths of existing research on managerial work will be discussed. Critical analysis of strengths of research works at hand will be followed by addressing the limitations and weakness of existing body of research. Finally, the third substantive part of the paper will deal with the role of research on teamwork in shaping the future of the research on managerial work.
Strengths of existing research on managerial work
Elaborating on the ways to increase effectiveness and efficiency of managerial work requires answering a question that may seem to be simple, namely “what do managers do?” However, if this question had been so simple, one would have never developed an extensive body of research on this issue, representing various understandings of the scope of managerial work.
Thus, the first strength of existing research on managerial work lies in conceptualizing roles and functions a manager performs within an organization. In his research work “Managerial work: analysis from observation” (1971), H.Mintzberg singled out ten basic roles that are performed by managers, and used three groupings to categorize them. This categorization of managerial roles is based on the observation that each of ten roles of a manager included at least one of basic components, such as interpersonal contact, processing information and making decisions. Roles that are found to fall within the scope of an interpersonal contact group include figurehead (performing “ceremonial” duties, such as presence at important events, signing documents), leader and liaison (ensuring horizontal communication between managers).
Informational roles of a manager include serving a nerve center of an organization, a disseminator (transmitting information within an organization) and a spokesman (communicating necessary information to outsiders). The roles that include decision-making element are an entrepreneur (manager as an initiator and designer of change), disturbance handler (the one, responsible for corrections) and resource allocator. According to a conclusion, drawn in the later work by H.Mintzberg (2000), managerial roles, considered above, are hardly separable and, therefore, constitute an integrated whole.
While Mintzberg’s understanding of managerial work is based on generalizing and grouping roles a manager plays within an organization, the model by Stewart (1982), originating from work activity school of research, suggests considering the work of a manager through the lens of three main categories, namely demands, constraints and choices. Whereas demands in the model by Stewart (1982) can be viewed as similar to the roles of a manager in Mintzberg’s, constraints and choice are new categories as compared to the Mintzberg’s understanding of a managerial work. Introduction of the category of constraints allows singling out factors that tend to limit activities of a manager (e.g., resources-related limitations, physical location etc.), while choices allow differentiating between components of managerial work that may be emphasized by a manager.
The meta-analysis of considerable body of literature of managerial work by Carmeli&Tishler (2006) allows understanding that research into skills managers require to perform their duties plays significant role in developing a scientific insight into managerial work. Similar approach is utilized in the work by Katz (2000) that presents a three-skill approach towards determining skills, decisive for an administrator to perform his/her functions in an effective manner.
While the majority of management research papers concentrate on determining the whole scope of managerial activities and interrelations between its elements (e.g., the ones by Mintzberg (1971, 2000) and Stewart(1982)), some authors tend to concentrate on a particular element of managerial work. For example, in his research paper, Gronn (1983) aims at considering the role of communication in managerial work, using the case study of managing a school.
The second crucial strength of the research works at hand is their empirical nature. For example, the model, developed by Stewart (1982), is based on lengthy open-ended interviews, self-recording diaries, observation from three to five days and group discussions. The early research by Mintzberg (1971) also uses observations of daily work of managers to develop an understanding of roles they perform in an organization. The work by Gronn (1983) utilizes the case study method to highlight the role of communication in the daily management of a school.
Empirical nature of research at hand represents strength due to the fact that it allows develop practice-based understanding of a managerial work and relevant problems and, by-turn, elaborate on reasoned responses to existing challenges.
Identifying issues that underlie exercising of managerial functions and developing observation-based responses to them represent a third critical strength of research in managerial work. Important issues, stemming from functional characteristics of managerial work, are addressed in the works by Mintzberg that are considered in the subsection of the paper that is dedicated to teamwork.
Weaknesses and limitations of research on managerial work
While management research works at hand possess important strengths, discussed above, they also have limitations that can be viewed as their weaknesses. The first critical limitation of empirical management research that is addressed in scholarly works manifests itself in abstracting the behavior of management from media and institutional settings of managerial work (Willmott, 1987, p.265). In other words, it is argued that researchers fail to view managerial work as a medium and outcome of structure-related peculiarities of existing socio-economic system that is based upon the dichotomy of socialized production and private appropriation. Considering managerial work only within the scope of an organization, not taking into account broader socio-economic context limits the understanding of the influence economic organization of society exerts upon the scope and peculiarity of managerial work. Furthermore, such approach prevents effective comparison of managerial work’s peculiarities in the light of different economic systems. As the vast majority of current research concentrates on investigating the scope of managerial work in Western organization, the lack of considering managerial work within broad context leads to the lack of understanding of the peculiarities of managerial work under planned economy.
Thus, it may be argued that the findings of empirical management research works, based on observations, made in states with capitalist economic system, might not be applicable to studying the peculiarities of managerial work in socialist states. Therefore, advancement of current research on managerial work requires not only getting further insights into the scope of roles and functions, played by management, but depicting managerial work against the background of current socio-economic system.
Whereas important strength of many managerial studies is concerned with them being of empirical nature, there are still the studies that are solely based on secondary sources and, thus, lack methodological background for insightfulness. For instance, the study of skills of an effective administrator by Katz (2000) does not contain any references to empirical research of managerial work, while suggesting a three-skill approach towards conceptualizing administrator’s work. Similar concern can be raised with respect to the research paper by Carmeli&Tishler(2006) that is based on revisiting existing body of literature on managerial skills. However, in case of this paper it may be argued that it constitutes a well-grounded meta-analysis of research on managerial skills, thus, being of use for complex reconsideration of this topic and further empirical research. Spreading of research works that are neither based on original empirical research, nor represent extensive meta-analyses of existing issues may exert negative influence upon the overall quality of research works that constitute the basis for the development of the area of studies at hand, thus, preventing its effective evolution.
Final concern that can be raised with respect to the scope of analyzed research works deals with the fact that these works tend to concentrate either on the roles and functions of management (e.g., the works by Mintzberg, Gronn) or managerial skills (research papers by Katz and Carmeli&Tishler).While such borderline does not influence the quality of separate research works at hand, it seems to be useful to integrate research on this topic, so that a better understanding of the link between managerial functions and required skills can be developed. This advancement may be of considerable use, when studying teamwork and allocation of responsibilities between several managers of an organization, so that allocation of roles and responsibilities is based on managers’ skills. As teamwork studies can be viewed as one of most important directions of current research of managerial studies, integrated research is required for enhancing opportunities for practical usage of managerial research.
Research on teamwork in management research
Growing complexity of institutionalization and functioning of modern organization leads to the fact that single manager can hardly take care of all aspects of organizational life. Therefore, modern organizations usually have a team of managers, who deal with financial, marketing, human resource and other types of management. Despite the fact that the division of functions between managers seems to be simple, it is important to understand that in practice management of an organization requires teamwork, whose design gets ever more sophisticated due to increasing complexity of organizational life.
Therefore, studying the peculiarities of teamwork at the workplace and the ways to increase its effectiveness and efficiency will take ever more space in management research. To exemplify this statement it is worth referring to the evolution of research works by H.Mintzberg. Early research by Mintzberg concentrated on managerial roles and their categorization, mentioning teamwork issue in a brief manner. However, in his later work this author managed to develop an in-depth understanding of integrated nature of managerial work and the way the teamwork issues needs to be considered with respect to the functional characteristics of managerial work.
In his early work, Mintzberg (1971) singles out delegation dilemma as a critical issue, preventing a manager from effective functioning. According to his argument, highlighted in the work of 1975, integrated nature of managerial functions determines difficulties in delegating functions and, therefore, team management (Mintzberg, 1975, pp.49-50). Main messages to managers, developed through observation of this issues in practical settings, deal with finding systemic ways to share privileged information with subordinates; solving superficiality issue and time control. Finding ways to share privileged information with subordinates can be attributed to the modern LMX theory of leadership that provides for dividing subordinates into in-group and out-group, so that a leader may both gather and disseminate information effectively. Solving superficiality issue lies in establishing the relationships of mutual trust between a leader and subordinates, so that there is no considerable distance between a leader and subordinates that may prevent a leader from effective exercising of his functions. Finally, time control is important, so that the leader has an opportunity to examine the way delegated functions are exercised.
Studying skills, necessary for effective managerial and administration work, has a significant practical implication, because understanding their nature and scope helps designing executive development programs that are required for effective teamwork. Teamwork studies also require analyzing on-site issues, faced by leaders, when they delegate responsibilities, and the ways they employ to tackle them.
Current paper was designed to investigate strengths and weaknesses of research in the field of management, as well as to identify the role of researching teamwork in the whole of management research. Analysis of eight research papers, dedicated to different aspects of managerial work, allows drawing the following conclusions. Utilization of different approaches towards identifying the scope and peculiarities of managerial work; being based on empirical studies, as well as tackling issues, faced by managers, and developing practice-based responses to them can be viewed as important strengths of research papers on managerial work. The weaknesses of research on managerial work, identified in terms of this paper, include not going beyond the scope of organizational environment, sometimes lacking empirical background, as well as being characterized by a borderline between research papers, studying managerial functions and the ones, dedicated to relevant skills.
Growing complexity of organization-building and their functioning determines the fact that a well-developed teamwork becomes a necessary characteristic of an organization. Specific emphasis in examined research works is put on the issue of integrated nature of managerial functions and resulting delegation of power issue. Effective delegation of power is also concerned with leadership issues, especially with regard to combating a distance between a manager and subordinates. Topicality of teamwork studies and teamwork’s being linked to various management-related issues determines teamwork research becoming a significant aspect of research on managerial work in general.
CARMELI, A., TISHLER, A. The relative importance of the top management team’s managerial skills. International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 27(1), pp.9-36
GRONN, P.C. Talks as the work: the accomplishment of school administration. Administrative Science Quarterly, 28, pp.1-21
KANTER, R.M. (1989). The new managerial work. Harvard Business Review, Vol. 11-12, pp.85-92
KATZ, R.L.(1974). Skills of an effective administration. Harvard Business Review, Vol. 09-10, pp.90-101
MINTZBERG, H. (1971). Managerial work: analysis from observation. Management Science, 18(2), pp.97-109
MINTZBERG, H. (1975). The manager’s job: folklore and fact. Harvard Business Review, Vol. 07-08, pp.49-61
STEWART, R. A model for understanding managerial work and behavior. Academy of management review, 7(1), pp.7-13
WILLMOTT, H. (1987). Studying managerial work: a critique and a proposal. Journal of management studies, 24(3), pp.249-270
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