Management Concepts and National Borders

The issue concerns whether management concepts are transferable across national borders. If management concepts were completely generic, they would also apply universally in any country in the world, regardless of economic, social, political, or cultural differences. Studies that have compared managerial practices between countries have not generally supported the universality of management concepts. We will examine some specific differences between countries and describe their effect on managing. At this point, it is sufficient to say that most of the concepts we will be discussing primarily apply to the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and other English speaking countries. We should be prepared to modify these concepts if we want to apply them in India, China, Chile, or other countries whose economic, political, social, or cultural environments differ greatly from that of the so called free market democracies.

Making Decisions and dealing with change:

Two final points of view need to be considered regarding what managers do. Managers make decisions, and managers are agents of change. Almost everything managers do require them to make decisions. Whether it involves setting and reward employees, or determining where significant performance variances exist, a manager must make a decision. The best managers then are the ones who can identify critical problems, assimilate the appropriate data, make sense of the information, and choose the best course of action to take for resolving the problem.

Organizations today also operate in a world of dynamic change. Managing in chaos has become the rule, not the exception. Successful managers acknowledge the rapid changes around them and are flexible in adapting their practices to deal with those changes. For instance, successful managers recognize the potential effect of technological improvements on a work unit’s performance, but they also realize that people often resist change. Accordingly, managers need to be in a position to “sell” the benefits of the change while simultaneously helping their employees deal with the uncertainty and anxiety that the change may bring.

What skills and Competencies do successful managers possess?

In addition to recognizing that all managers regardless of level, organization size, profit or not for profit enterprise perform the four basic activities of management, we also need to determine what the critical skills are that relate to managerial competence. Managers must possess four critical management skills. Management skills identify those abilities or behaviors that are crucial to success in a managerial position. These skills can be viewed on two levels: general skills a manager must possess, and the specific skills that are related to managerial success. Let’s look at these two categories

General skills: There seems to be overall agreement that effective managers must be proficient in four general skill areas: areas conceptual, interpersonal technical and political skills.

Conceptual skills refer to the mental ability to analyze and diagnose complex situations. They help managers see how things fit together and facilitate making good decisions. Interpersonal skills encompass the ability to work with, understand, mentor, and motivate other people, both individually and in group (see developing your mentoring skill) because managers get things done through other people, they must have been good interpersonal skills to communicate, motivate, and delegate. Additionally, all managers need technical skills. These abilities are based on specialized knowledge or expertise. For top level managers, these abilities tend to be related to knowledge of the industry and a general understanding of the organization’s processes and products. For middle and lower level managers, they are related to the specialized knowledge required in the areas with which they work – finance, human resources, information technology, manufacturing, computer systems, law, marketing, and the like. Finally, managers need political skills. This area is related to the ability to enhance one’s position, build a power base, and establish the right connections. Organizations are political arenas in which people compete for resources. Managers with good political skills tend to be better at getting resources for their groups than are managers with poor political skills, and they also appear to receive higher evaluations and get more promotions.