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The Work of ManagersTowards a Practice Theory of Management$

Stefan Tengblad

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199639724

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199639724.001.0001

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(p.165) Part IV Administrative managerial work

(p.165) Part IV Administrative managerial work

The Work of Managers
Oxford University Press

The four chapters of Part Four present managerial work at the senior and executive level. While the word administrative is used somewhat pejoratively these days, when managers are assumed to be leaders, it is still the best descriptor of this kind of managerial work. In everyday managerial work, there is almost a countless number of administrative tasks – scheduled meetings, routines, and, most important, information exchanges. However, owing to the sheer complexity of the work and the constant need for information exchange and adjustments, there is much less opportunity to act as transformative leaders or strategic decision-makers.

The first two chapters examine managerial work in the municipal sector, while the third and fourth chapters concern university managers and CEOs of large and medium-sized companies, respectively.

Chapter 9. Managers at the municipal top

Anna Cregård and Rolf Solli describe their research on the work of senior managers in Swedish municipalities (which usually have between 1,000 and 10,000 employees). They describe the special conditions that exist in this and other public sector areas, including the powerful influence of elected politicians on various municipal issues. Municipal managers/directors appear to yield power to the politicians who are the face of municipal government. Yet in such complex organizations, decision-making has a ritualistic character, and the leading managers have important ceremonial roles. As the head of administration, the municipality manager/director can be seen as the rubber band that holds the organization together.

(p.166) Chapter 10. The Swedish Municipality Director: A managerial function between politics and administration

Leif Jonsson reports on the work of the municipality director. In the main section of the chapter, he describes the work of nine directors, using their four-week diaries as his empirical data (much like Carlson’s methodology in his CEO study of sixty years ago). The results of his study show that the directors work on average more than sixty hours a week at a large number of different activities. Decision-making is not one of the time-consuming activities. The chapter also discusses the importance of anchoring managerial work. This concept refers to the way managers gain acceptance for new ideas and thus overcome the inertia of the existing order.

Chapter 11. Leaders of modern universities: Primi inter pares or chief executive officers?

Lars Engwall and Carin Eriksson Lindvall study the university managerial environment where new ideas about effective management challenge both leadership and collegial traditions. One focus of their research is the department level where management, which was once part-time work for scholars, has become increasingly professionalized. A second focus is the vice-chancellor level where the authors show that strategic planning is perceived by the vice-chancellors themselves as a more important task than the ceremonies and representation that occupy a huge proportion of their working time.

Chapter 12. Managerial work at the top: Tracing changes in work practices and efforts towards theory development

Stefan Tengblad presents his study of managerial work at the executive level that makes comparisons with the studies by Carlson (1951) and Mintzberg (1973). The chief executives in Tengblad’s study experience less task fragmentation in their work, but as they travel more, their workspace has become more fragmented. These executives also work in a more decentralized way and typically are not much involved in functional issues like production, purchasing, and product development. As a response to the increasing focus on profitability and share prices, they are more involved in financial issues. Much time is spent on setting and meeting market expectations and maintaining good relationships with the actors related to the financial markets.