Management and Decision Sciences From Thesis

  • Length: 90 pages
  • Sources: 40
  • Subject: Business - Management
  • Type: Thesis
  • Paper: #55501983

Excerpt from Thesis :

76). As automation increasingly assumes the more mundane and routine aspects of work of all types, Drucker was visionary in his assessment of how decisions would be made in the years to come. "In the future," said Drucker, "it was possible that all employment would be managerial in nature, and we would then have progressed from a society of labor to a society of management" (Witzel, p. 76). The first tasks of the manager, then, are to coordinate an organization's resources and provide a viable framework in which they can be used to produce goods and services effectively and efficiently. The second set of tasks concern guidance and control. In Drucker's view, this role is almost entirely proactive: "Economic forces set limits to what a manager can do. They create opportunities for management's action. But they do not by themselves dictate what a business is or what it does" (Drucker, 1974, p. 88).

In a well-known statement, Drucker added that assigns to managers the primary role not only for creating the enterprise but also for creating its markets: "There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer. Markets are not created by God, nature or economic forces, but by the people who manage a business. The want a business satisfies may have been felt by customers & #8230;but it remained a potential want until business people converted it into effective action. Only then are there customers and a market" (Drucker, 1974, p. 89).

Drucker established that management is legitimate field of endeavor that had not existed previously. It is neither an art nor a science, but a profession, akin to medicine or law, and one that is even more complicated. What is management? As he said again and again, it is about people: "Management's task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their strengths effective and weaknesses irrelevant." Management defines and communicates common goals and values, by creating the right organizational structure and providing the training and development that employees need to respond effectively to change. Unlike the doctor or lawyer, the manager functions only through others, and in fact, through many others. Management is not simply getting other people to perform, but getting many others to perform in a joint, orchestrated process. This is why it is more complicated. The only real tools the manager has are communication, organizational design, and training and development (Boudreaux, p. 19).

According to East (1997), Drucker characterized decisions as falling into "generic," "new generic,'" and "exceptional decisions" categories; East uses a comparable approach and classifies them into routine, problem-solving, and innovative categories which are described further in Table __ below as they apply to academic institutions.


Topological Structure of Decisions

Type of Decision


Routine Decisions

Routine, or generic, decisions are those decisions that carry the unit forward in daily operation. These decisions are characterized as high-volume, low-impact types of decisions. The dilemmas are fairly straightforward and the consequences of the action are reversible - for example, adding an additional class to the course schedule, purchasing routine supplies, and signing add cards.

Problem-solving Decisions

Problem-solving, or "new" generic, decisions involve repetitive circumstances that require unique solutions. Because problem-solving dilemmas are repetitive, operational procedures often are established within organizations to facilitate solutions to "new" generic problems. For example, the tenure/promotion of a faculty member is a repetitive event that requires a relatively unique solution. Although the procedures and criteria used to solve these dilemmas are fairly well established, the administrator must interpret these criteria and apply them to a specific faculty member.

Innovative Decisions

Innovative, or exceptional, decisions represent significant paradigm shifts within the organization. Seldom are there precedents for these decisions, and the referent information is often subject to extraneous or strategic misrepresentation. Many curricular decisions may be classified as innovative, that is, adding a new doctoral program in health sciences, terminating a major program of study, or revising the general education core curriculum. These decisions usually involve significant risks for the decision maker; however, the potential benefits of controlled change often outweigh these risks. Innovative decisions normally involve a protracted period of information gathering, and often simulate the characteristic process of consensus building.

Source: East, 1997, p. 40.

Frederick W. Taylor. Taylor was the originator of Scientific Management at the turn of the 20th century, a period in which enormous industrialization would result in the ubiquitous adoption of assembly-line techniques production in the United States. His "task-management" approach greatly expanded management's role in the performance of traditional tasks and also grafted itself onto the new emerging tasks. Traditional rules of thumb transmitted orally from worker to worker were to be replaced by rational methods communicated to employees by managers using written instructions and precise recordkeeping. By contrast, Performance Management has fully emerged in the U.S. during a time of relative deindustrialization and a corresponding development of an economy based on services and information. The decline -- or rather, the expatriation -- of the steel and manufacturing industries, once almost synonymous with the U.S. economy, has cut a rusty gash across the countryside. Since the early 1970s, U.S. firms of all sorts have sought less expensive labor pools and less restrictive regulation in Latin America and the Asian Pacific rim. While the industrially-based economy has declined in the U.S., another has arisen, that of the "service" or "information economy." Performance Management has become the organizational theory of the new information economy, and in this role it has relied heavily upon a school of management known as "information processing and decision-making" or IPDM.

As its name suggests, IPDM theorists focus on the gathering, storage, and transmission of information, and, more importantly, on the decision-making processes that depend upon it, processes that include identifying problem situations, developing possible solutions, choosing a course of action, and evaluating past decisions. Writing in 1975, E. Frank Harrison sketches this genealogy of IPDM: "Decision theory as an academic discipline is still relatively young. It is only since the Second World War that operations research, statistical analysis, and computer programming have imparted a 'scientific' aura to the process of choice and only within the last ten or fifteen years that the behavioral sciences -- sociology, psychology and social psychology -- have begun to contribute to the body of knowledge comprising decision theory" (Harrison, 1975, p. 5).

During mid-20th century, IPDM was introduced and eventually became influential in organizational theory by the 1970s; although its scientific basis make this concept an extension of Scientific Management rather than a drastic departure, theorists who subscribe to IPDM tenets have made important contributions to the displacement of Taylorism and to the generalization of organizational performance. In particular, by analyzing the recordkeeping and planning activities of managers, they have helped theorize the performance of management itself (McKenzie, 2001). According to one analyst, "Throughout the history of IPDM, its theorists have sought to justify their approach in terms of the rapid and fundamental changes occurring in the U.S. economy. They have focused primarily upon the decline of blue-collar employment and the increasing importance of white-collar jobs, and significantly, they have attributed these changes in large part to technological developments" (McKenzie, 2001, p. 74).

According to McKenzie, "IPDM seeks to empower workers at even the lowest organizational levels. and, like the sociotechnical systems approach, it conceives of human performance as intimately connected to technology. The significance of IPDM lies in the relation it draws between the diffusion of decision-making and the introduction of a technical system capable of totally transforming management" (p. 74). One of the key features of IPDM that makes it an attractive model for decision-makers in higher educational institutions is its ability to include input from a wide range of stakeholders in a participatory fashion that helps to identify unknowns that might otherwise be overlooked. In this regard, McKenzie concudes that, "In investigating the performance of management, IPDM has generalized performance to include both physical and cognitive activities, thereby greatly expanding its field of reference. At the same time, its theorists have folded back information processing and decision making over the entire field of organizational performance" (p. 75).

Analysis of the historic evolution of decision making from scientific management to modern applications of operations research.

On the one hand, Frederick W. Taylor was an early influential writer on management (1890) who developed a theory of scientific management in which supervisors were taught to break jobs down into individual activities that could be easily taught to unskilled workers. On the other hand, Drucker's work was unique in that he demonstrated how management evolved as a distinct discipline, simultaneous with and related to the development of new large business and not-for-profit organizations that were not centralized, that were not "command and control," and that were not made up of employees performing unskilled activities (Boudreaux, p. 19).

According to Witzel, "On managers, therefore, fall the twin…

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