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Managerial Work: Analysis from Observation

Listed author(s):
  • Henry Mintzberg

    (McGill University)

Registered author(s):

    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.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.18.2.B97
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    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 18 (1971)
    Issue (Month): 2 (October)
    Pages: 97-110

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:18:y:1971:i:2:p:b97-b110
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