IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Managerial Work: Analysis from Observation


  • Henry Mintzberg

    (McGill University)


The progress of management science is dependent on our understanding of the manager's working processes. A review of the literature indicates that this understanding is superficial at best. Empirical study of the work of five managers (supported by those research findings that are available) led to the following description: Managers perform ten basic roles which fall into three groupings. The interpersonal roles describe the manager as figurehead, external liaison, and leader; the information processing roles describe the manager as the nerve center of his organisation's information system; and the decision-making roles suggest that the manager is at the heart of the system by which organizational resource allocation, improvement, and disturbance decisions are made. Because of the huge burden of responsibility for the operation of these systems, the manager is called upon to perform his work at an unrelenting pace, work that is characterized by variety, discontinuity and brevity. Managers come to prefer issues that are current, specific, and ad hoc, and that are presented in verbal form. Aa a result, there is virtually no science in managerial work. The management scientist has done little to change this. He has been unable to understand work which has never been adequately described, and he has poor access to the manager's information, most of which is never documented. We must describe managerial work more precisely, and we must model the manager as a programmed system. Only then shall we be able to make a science of management.

Suggested Citation

  • Henry Mintzberg, 1971. "Managerial Work: Analysis from Observation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 18(2), pages 97-110, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:18:y:1971:i:2:p:b97-b110

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Hutzschenreuter, Thomas & Horstkotte, Julian, 2013. "Performance effects of international expansion processes: The moderating role of top management team experiences," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 259-277.
    2. repec:eee:jbrese:v:79:y:2017:i:c:p:31-40 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Iván A. Montoya Restrepo, 2009. "La formación de la estrategia en Mintzberg y las posibilidades de su aportación para el futuro," REVISTA FACULTAD DE CIENCIAS ECONÓMICAS, UNIVERSIDAD MILITAR NUEVA GRANADA, December.
    4. repec:pal:palcom:v:3:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1057_s41599-017-0019-y is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Hutzschenreuter, Thomas & Horstkotte, Julian, 2013. "Managerial services and complexity in a firm’s expansion process: An empirical study of the impact on the growth of the firm," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 137-151.
    6. Otto H. Swank & Bauke Visser, 0000. "Sharing Information through Delegation and Collaboration," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-042/1, Tinbergen Institute.
    7. Fridah Muriungi Mwobobia, 2012. "Role of Business Management into the Success and Survival of Small Businesses: The Case of Star Learning Centre in Botswana," International Journal of Business Administration, International Journal of Business Administration, Sciedu Press, vol. 3(1), pages 93-112, January.
    8. repec:spr:manint:v:48:y:2008:i:5:d:10.1007_s11575-008-0037-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. David H. Greenberg & Marvin B. Mandell, 1991. "Research utilization in policymaking: A tale of two series (of social experiments)," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(4), pages 633-656.
    10. Abetti, Pier A. & Phan, Phillip H., 2004. "Teaching note: Zobele chemical industries: the evolution of a family company from flypaper to globalization (1919-2001)," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 601-613, July.
    11. Cook, Michael L., 1994. "The Role of Management Behavior in Agricultural Cooperatives," Journal of Agricultural Cooperation, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, vol. 0, pages 1-17.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:18:y:1971:i:2:p:b97-b110. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mirko Janc). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.