Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

Fact or Fiction? a Study of Managerial Perceptions Applied to an Analysis of Organizational Security Risk

Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

Fact or Fiction? a Study of Managerial Perceptions Applied to an Analysis of Organizational Security Risk

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Perception may be defined as the process by which people translate external cues into a rational and integrated idea of the world around them (Lindsay & Norman, 1977). Even though these impressions are often based on deficient and/or unreliable information, perception is commonly accepted by initiating actors as reality and serves to direct human actions in general (Daniels, 2003). Business decisions are based, largely, on managerial perceptions. To this end, managers have been theorized to draw conclusions based on their inaccurate perceptions as opposed to critical review of all available environmental information (Starbuck & Mezias, 1996).

Although the situation described above seems ripe for further investigation, it is apparent that few management scholars have studied managerial perceptions over the past several decades (Mezias & Starbuck, 2003). This apparent chasm in management knowledge has been attributed to a variety of reasons to include the difficulty of designing studies and instruments that accurately measure managerial perceptions (Starbuck & Mezias, 1996), the lack of interest in businesses supporting this type of investigation (Mezias & Starbuck, 2003), and a dispute in the value of this type of research among scholars (Das, 2003). Notably, one biting criticism of the study of managerial perceptions is that academicians themselves may harbor disconfirming preconceived notions (biases) about study subjects (managers) which causes them to interpret study results through a lens of criticism (Das, 2003). The conundrum has been aptly described as management researchers not being familiar enough with the actual practice of management to understand the subtle nuances of the craft. Accordingly, scholars have been directed to "engage in research only after they had acquired some semblance of the managerial world" (Das, 2003). Workable familiarity notwithstanding, the end result has been described as the construction of studies that are deemed to hold little utility for scholarly examination and even less for managerial practice (Das, 2003). In response, Mezias and Starbuck (2003) famously answered such criticisms and challenged the community of management scholars to "join the odyssey" in the pursuit of more definitive studies of managerial perceptions to address significant research and practice inquiries.

From this starting point, the research that we present here is designed to address the "lack of relevance" issue in the study of management perceptions. As with most studies of managerial perceptions, the challenge is to ascertain managers' perceptions about particular issues of consequence to practice and research, and then to contrast these cognitive beliefs with objective evidence of the situations to demonstrate either the congruence of held perceptions with reality or to highlight significant differences between what is believed and what is actually occurring. Since managers make decisions based on their perceptions of environmental stimuli, this type of investigation is useful to understand the rationale behind how managers formulate strategy, develop contingencies, and otherwise react to ever-changing market conditions.

One such important topic that managers should constantly reconsider is organization security. The value of an organization includes intellectual property, specialized processes, proprietary knowledge, and other information that must be protected from external competition and industrial thievery. To prevent breaches of security, management needs to understand and identify the vulnerabilities that exist within the organization, and then implement decisions that correct or eliminate those vulnerabilities (Rosenthal, 2003). Knowing the cause of security risks is vital to the development of an overall business security strategy (Whitman, 2003). In order for managers to do this well, there needs to be a clear assessment and understanding of technology-based threats, employee (behavioral) threats, and an accurate judgment of the firms' state of overall security. …

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