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

ABSTRACT

The underlying theme of this paper is to determine whether managerial perceptions of important organizational processes and competitive situations are based in fact or fiction. While it is known that manager's base decisions, largely, on their perceptions, our examination utilizes a unique observational investigative technique to ascertain the information necessary to answer this research inquiry.

Additionally, this paper will examine the variation between managerial perceptions of organizational security risks and the actual state of these risks while also exposing the unintended security vulnerabilities that occur due to routine employee behavior. In doing so, we employ the Perception of Risk Theory (Slovic et al, 1976) to argue that manager's perceptions of organizational risk are based mostly on (1) technology solutions to protect organizational assets and (2) their beliefs that employees habitually follow established organization security policies.

Utilizing a case study conducted in an existing financial institution, the research reveals that many of management's perceptual assumptions about organizational security are inaccurate. It is suggested that by increasing manager's awareness of the likelihood of perceptual inaccuracies, managers might make better informed decisions that may serve to, ultimately, increase organizational performance. Additional findings, limitations, and implications for research and practice are discussed.

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. …

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