Academic journal article Entrepreneurial Executive

Ways Managers Interpret and Act on Common Workplace Events: Implications for the Entrepreneurial Executive

Academic journal article Entrepreneurial Executive

Ways Managers Interpret and Act on Common Workplace Events: Implications for the Entrepreneurial Executive

Article excerpt


Performing the role of manager involves indentifying issues that require the attention of the manager, seeking guidance when necessary on how best to resolve the issues, making a decision as to what alternative course of action to take and implementing that decision. Some situations that are interpreted by a manager as routine, or of minor consequence, are resolved by decisions that are made quickly and often intuitively with little information search or analytic activity. Other situations are interpreted as more complex, novel or important and, therefore, require significant information search and analysis before action can be taken by the manager (Smith, Peterson, & Schwartz, 2002).

An individual's need for closure (Webster & Kruglanski, 1994) may influence the interpretive and decision-making process by affecting the amount and type of guidance that is sought. A manager that has a higher need to reach a state of cognitive closure would be less likely to tolerate a longer period of ambiguity in resolving situations. As a result, the expectation would be an individual that has a high need for cognitive closure would be significantly less likely to seek guidance from a number of sources in analyzing situations than an individual with a lower need for closure. Individuals that utilize fewer sources of guidance are more likely to be intuitive decision-makers and, as a result, be more likely to make an incorrect decision than an individual who has followed a logic-based process involving appropriate information search and analysis. Achieving a greater understanding of how individual differences affect decision-making processes potentially helps improve those processes.

This study investigates how a manager's need for closure affects the manner in which the manager seeks guidance from his or her peers and relies on personal experience when dealing with work-related situations that are both commonly encountered and relatively important. Because this study is a field study of actual managers performing common managerial activities, it has the potential of providing valuable insights into managerial decision-making behavior. This understanding is important in a wide range of decision-making situations, including those in an entrepreneurial context. Individuals that are more collaborative in the workplace and less likely to make quick, intuitive decisions potentially represent a much more valuable resource to the entrepreneurial executive seeking to identify and exploit market opportunities than individuals that are less collaborative or that tend to reach cognitive closure more readily. Similarly, possessing an understanding of the entrepreneurial benefits of collaborative behavior and the threats to entrepreneurial activity posed by an individual's tendencies to seek premature closure should provide motivation for the entrepreneurial executive to engage in sufficient information seeking and analytic behavior prior to making important decisions related to opportunity exploitation.

Event Management

The criterion variable in this study is the extent various information sources are utilized to interpret and sometimes act upon complex events commonly encountered by managers in the workplace (Peterson & Smith, 2000). Prior research (Smith, Peterson & Schwartz, 2002) has identified the individual, organizational and cultural sources of guidance commonly accessed in dealing with these situations. At the individual level, expertise is developed through experience and training. At the organizational level, persons providing guidance include superiors, subordinates specialists and coworkers. Impersonal sources at the organizational level include formal rules or informal organizational norms. In addition, beliefs that are grounded in aspects of culture such as ideology or religion provide additional interpretive guidance. The extent the sources including "my own experience" and "other people at my level" are assessed in the present study. …

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