NOTE ON MANAGEMENT
No. 1 : "Good managers don't make policy decisions" by H.E. Wrapp.
This paper was published in "Management Today" in 1967. Wrapp identifies five skills he has observed in good general managers:
Clearly, things are not what most people believe them to be in the top management world. Top managers do not spend most of their time making broad policy decisions, formulating objectives, conceptualising long-range plans or meditating on the role of his organisation in society.
The good manager is rarely able to think objectively about the process of management which he is practising. Any systematic explanation he gives about how he does his job is largely fictional. Even if he understands his methods, he cannot be expected to describe them since they border on manipulation - and manipulation has a social stigma attached to it.
Thus says H. Edward Wrapp.
* * * * * * * * * *
The essence of Wrapp's argument is that quantifying, M.B.O. etc. are applicable to lower levels but not to top management. Is this characteristic of top management, as reported by Wrapp, a phoney mystique required for the maintenance of power? Is it a defence mechanism to protect managers unfit for office? Or is it really management by hidden. objectives. If the latter, it would be against the long-established trend to bring objectives out into the open and to arrive at them openly. The lower levels have long since been invaded by this philosophy; is the top management, a last stronghold of playing matters close to the chest, of mystique and of amateurism - all of which would now be called bad management at the lower levels?
Wrapp's motives must also be taken into account in considering his paper. As a manager serving on the Boards of several Corporations he would not wish to offend his top management colleagues. Was the paper an apologia on their behalf? At the same time he would not wish to undermine the management programs, which no doubt included M.B.O. and other manifestations of a scientific approach to management, of the Business School of which he is Dean.
Wrapp says that his paper was based on research. He observed managers, without them realising they were being observed, while he worked in close collaboration with them. If this were research, 'twas grievously done. Or wer't?