Handbook of Research on Managing Managers
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Handbook of Research on Managing Managers

Edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Keith Townsend and Gabriele Suder

This book explores the changing role of managers in the workplace. In recent years, there has been considerable debate on the future of management, with both pessimistic and optimistic views being put forward. However, in the wake of delayering, downsizing, re-engineering and the pursuit of leanness, the more gloomy perspective has gained currency, especially in the popular managerial literature, and some have pronounced the end of management altogether. Some paint a more optimistic picture of managers and managers’ work with roles being transformed rather than replaced and the new organisational context providing more demanding work but greater autonomy and increased skill development. With contributions from experts in the field, this book is concerned with the way organisations manage their managers and how this continues to evolve with reference to global issues.
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Chapter 9: Managerial work

Stefan Tengblad and Ola Edvin Vie


We all went through the B-schools when we were young and the professors had all the answers on the blackboards, computer printouts, and reading assignments. Everything was so clean and precise. The problems in the accounting and quantitative courses always had logical answers. Even the principles of management and policy courses had structure and form, citing the five functions a manager performs or the three steps of strategic planning. The same is true of the management development programs I have attended over the years. The trainer has all the answers to my problems – one, two, three. But I’m here to tell you it really isn’t like that. My day consists of running from one meeting to the next, fielding questions from my internal staff and outsiders, trying to respond to telephone messages, trying to smooth over an argument between a couple of people, and keeping my ever higher in-basket from toppling down on top of me. In fact, I feel guilty that I’m not doing the things that the management educators, trainers, and the things I read say I should be doing. When I come out of one of these sessions, or after reading the latest management treatise, I’m eager to do it. Then the first phone call from an irate customer, or a new project with a rush deadline, falls on me, and I’m back in the same old rut. (Luthans et al., 1988, pp. 27–8)

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