Term Paper: Management Theory and Practice

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Managers as Professionals

Management as a Professional

Every business, large or small, has a manager. In small businesses, these persons often perform more than one job. In larger corporations, managers are often restricted to a limited number of tasks within the workday. Regardless of the exact job description of a manager, or the circumstances under which they lead, they perform their jobs as professionals. The knowledge that a manager must possess in order to be effective can be specialized or general. This research will explore various viewpoints on the manager as a professional and will examine the thesis that managers should hold professional licenses and be categorized as other professionals such as doctors or attorneys.

The managerial practices of the organization dictate the role of the manager and how their role relates to the whole. There is little available literature that examines managerial perceptions from a professional standpoint. For the sake of argument, we will only consider executives that manage large corporations. Many of the concerns that they have do not apply to managers of small to medium sized businesses.

Corporate scandals in recent years have eroded public trust in executives and business institutions to levels that have not been experienced in some time (Khurana, Nohria, & Penrice, 2005). A gallop poll indicated that many American citizens classify managers as greedy and dishonest (Khurana, Nohria, & Penrice, 2005). Whether one likes it or not, managers are no longer viewed as respected members of the community. It is clear that reform is needed. The first area of reform needs to be in the area of preventing further scandals from occurring in the future. The second area of reform needs to be such that trust is restored in the managers and the corporations that they represent.

The Manger as a Professional

Mangers have a professional obligation to the corporations that they serve, their customers and their boards of directors. They must utilize their specific talents and knowledge, and sense of judgment to make decisions that are in the best interests of everyone involved. However, sometimes managers fail in their ability to do this because of unforeseen circumstances, or perhaps they lost the vision and focus of their position.

Regardless of the reason for the breach of trust, the manager's decisions have a negative impact on themselves and the companies that they represent. Managers must exercise a certain amount of professionalism in their daily activities in order to serve the interests of everyone involved (Cullinane, & Dundon, 2006). From this standpoint, it can be argued that the manager should be licensed and regarded as any other professional. Cultural differences would play a role in the willingness of managers to cooperate with ethical obligations. For instance, one study found that Chinese managers are more likely to reveal their mistakes than U.S. managers (Chow et al., 2000).

When one puts the manager in terms of professional obligations, it is easy to make the jump to the manager as a business professional. Sociologists have explored this issue and have determined that in order to an occupation to be considered a profession, it must meet several criterion. The four criterion for an occupation being called a profession are:

common body of knowledge that is based on an accepted theoretical base.

A certification process to make certain that individuals possess this body of knowledge before being allowed to practice.

A commitment to use that knowledge for the public good, even at the expense of profit, in return for autonomy and monopoly power.

Adherence to a code of ethics, with provisions for monitoring individual compliance and sanctions necessary to enforce it (Khurana, Nohria, & Penrice, 2005).

These four traits are the keys to what separates an occupation from a profession. When one considers traditional professions such as physicians and law professionals, it is easy to see how their practices fit clearly within the definition of professional, as defined by sociologists (Khurana, Nohria, & Penrice, 2005). However, when one judges the managerial profession by these standards, it is easy to see how the managerial profession falls short on almost all counts. The merits of these shortfalls will be addressed in the following discussion.

Knowledge Base and the Manager

The first criteria is that the manager must possess a common body of knowledge that is based on an accepted theoretical basis (Khurana, Nohria, & Penrice, 2005). Those that have attended colleges of business would fit this criterion. Universities have standardized curriculum designed to impart a certain set of knowledge that is considered crucial to performance as a manager. Many large corporations require their managers to possess a business degree. Therefore, they would qualify as a professional under this criterion.

However, there are many cases where managers do not have a business degree, yet perform the duties of a manager. In fact, some of the wealthiest people in the United States have no college degree. Larry Ellison, Co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corp, attended many colleges, but never earned a degree (Inside CRM Editors, 2007). Billionaire, Ross Perot never attended college. Perot sole his first company, Electronic Data Systems fro 2.4 billion to GM in 1984 (Inside CRM Editors, 2007). Christine Comaford, CEO and multimillionaire, did not even complete high school, yet she was able to land a job as operational high-tech office at Microsoft, Lotus, Adobe, and Apple (Inside CRM Editors, 2007).

The criteria maintains that there is a common body of knowledge based on an accepted theoretical base. When one considers business degree programs, it could be argued that a standardized set of knowledge exists (Cullinane, & Dundon, 2006).

Many courses are considered to be the basics of any business management program. An accreditation program does exist for schools of business. Many schools are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) (All State Directories, Inc., 2008). However, attendance to one of these programs is not a requirement. Essentially, anyone can file a business registration with their state and open a business. Many of which are quite successful, with or without a degree. The business will either fail or be a success based on the talent of the person running it.

The second criteria is that the professional must adhere to a certain certification process in order to make certain that individuals possess the proper body of knowledge. There are business certification processes available through universities. However, these programs are similar to other degree programs, only shorter. Some of these programs are specialized, such as the Business Analyst program at UC Irvine (UC Irvine, 2007). However, there is no standardized test, such as the Bar exam, or the CPA exam that demonstrates a common body of knowledge. When one examines the curriculum for certificate programs, there are many differences in the knowledge that is included. They are not required for the practice of business management.

The first two criterion for a professional, as determined by sociologists concern a body of knowledge. If one considers others, such as doctors, who fall under the category of professional, it is easy to see where they fit the criteria. No one would consider having an operation by a doctor that did not have the credentials to perform the surgery. Likewise, no one would hire an unlicensed attorney to try their case. The reason for the licensure of these professionals is that failure to meet at least minimal standards in the performance of their job has dire consequences for the client. There are attorneys and doctors that are beyond the standard, as far as knowledge is concerned. There are also those who barely passed their exams, but still meet at least the minimal standards necessary to practice. This assures that the client has at least a minimal amount of confidence in the professional.

As we demonstrated, there is no minimal knowledge requirement for a person to be a business manager. Some of the most successful in their field did not even pass high school, let alone college. Yet they manage millions of dollars of assets for the companies that employ them. It is not known if all of these persons know standard managerial knowledge, such as the basic types of managerial style, basic accounting principles, or how to analyze their competitive advantage using Porter's five forces. Perhaps they picked them up from others on the job, or read about them, but there is no means to asses their level of knowledge in the way that we assess doctors or lawyers.

We presented the idea that the practice of doctors or lawyers have the potential to hurt someone if they do not perform to at least minimal standards. What about the business that manages company assets poorly and shareholders lose a fortune? In this case, the actions of the manager caused a considerable amount of grief for shareholders and perhaps employees. It is easy to argue that the problems caused by this action cannot compare in severity to the patient who was harmed by a doctor. It does not compare to the person… [END OF PREVIEW]

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