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Will technology enable top managers to do their job with little face-to-face communication?

Ch. 7: Mass customization of products has become a common approach in manufacturing organizations. Discuss ways in which mass customization can be applied to service firms as well.

Mass customization refers to using mass-production technology to quickly and cost-effectively assemble goods that are uniquely designed to fit the demands of individual customers (Daft, 2008, p. 264). Mass customization has also been achieved in service industries like on-line internet services. Three complementary on-line services (visualization, salesperson interaction, and product adaptation) represent promising additional activities that on-line retailers can undertake to support consumers in the mass customization process (Dellaert, 2009, p. 46). When a customer is at a store they are able to see the customized product, but on the internet they cannot. By providing immediate visual product feedback at each stage of the mass customization process, visualization can increase consumers' ability to interactively evaluate the products they are composing and also provide them with a deeper understanding of the overall implications of the changes in product features (Dellaert, 2009, p. 46). Interaction with a salesperson online can also help develop and understand their preferences. As in store shopping, giving consumers the opportunity to have their product altered or replaced free of charge in case it fails to meet their expectations (product adaptation) may also assist firms in overcoming consumers' inherent uncertainty about purchasing on-line mass customized products (Dellaert, 2009, p. 46).

Ch. 7: A top executive claimed that top-level management is a craft technology because the work contains intangibles, such as handling personnel, interpreting the environment, and coping with unusual situations that have to be learned through experience. If this is true, is it appropriate to teach management in a business school? Does teaching management from a textbook assume that the manager's job is analyzable, and hence that formal training rather than experience is most important?

Craft technologies are characterized by a fairly stable stream of activities, but the conversion process is not analyzable or well understood (Daft, 2008, p.273). These tasks require extensive training and experience because employees respond to intangible factors on the basis of wisdom, intuition, and experience (Daft, 2008, p. 273). Even though management has many skills that are learned on the job some skills must be learned in school. These skills are the nonroutine skills. Basic research, strategic planning, and other work that involves new projects and unexpected problems are nonroutine (Daft, 2008, p. 273). For example, the majority of managers are expected to know about accounting and project management before they start working as managers. That is why it is appropriate to teach management in business schools. A managers job is not analyzable and both formal training and experience are both important.

Ch. 8: Do you think technology will eventually enable top managers to do their job with little face-to-face communication? Discuss.

Managers today are provided with many new technologies. Management information systems – including information reporting systems, decision support systems, and executive information systems – facilitate rapid and effective decision making (Daft, 2008, p. 298). Elements of control include various management control systems, including executive dashboards, and a procedure known as the balanced scorecard (Daft, 2008, p. 298). Today technology does enable managers to do their job with less face to face communication. One example is behavior control. Behavior control is based on manager observation of employee actions to see whether the individual follows desired procedures and performs tasks as instructed (Daft, 2008, p. 308). Even though managers can monitor behavior by checking emails and check other online activities they must communicate to this to the employee when necessary. The manager may send an email to the employee but if the employee ignores the email or does not take it seriously than a face-to-face meeting is necessary. So even though technology does enable managers to do their job with less face to face communication sometime it is necessary.

Ch. 9: Look through several recent issues of a business magazine such as Fortune, BusinessWeek, or Fast Company and find examples of two companies that are using approaches to busting bureaucracy. Discuss the techniques these companies are applying.

Because of the terrorist attacks that happened on September 11, 2001 the business aviation industry has become very bureaucratic. That is because the government is stressing high security and airport access issues. In the past two years, security has had an adverse impact on business aviation flight operations, and the National Business Aviation Assn. (NBAA), working closely with the FAA and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), is slowly making progress in its fight to regain the ability to fly anywhere, anytime, with minimal federal interference (Phillips, 2003, p. 60). The business aviation industry is not even allowed to use the Ronald Reagan National Airport. First, the business aviation community must craft a formal and effective technical and logistical response to federal security concerns, and second, a firm political response from the White House is necessary to reopen the airport to business flying (Phillips, 2003, p. 60).

One other business that has to deal with lots of bureaucracy is Kiva's container which is in the packaging business. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspects equipment, the Department of Commerce reviews shipping records, the Environmental Protection Agency regulates chemicals, and the Department of Transportation oversees the labels on packaging (Welles, 1995, p. 66). Kiva's container is not the only small business with the bureaucratic problems. Small-business owners, spend at least one billion hours a year filling out government forms, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (Welles, 1995, p. 66). Kiva's container owners put in about 70 hours of work a week into the business. Kiva's owner has gone to Washington on her own time and dollar to talk to legislators about health care and other matters affecting small business (Welles, 1995, p. 66). But at this time the owners will have to continue to put in lots of hours.

Ch. 9: Do you think a “no growth” philosophy of management should be taught in business schools? Discuss.

There are many benefits to small businesses. Based on studies of primitive societies, religious sects, military organizations, and some businesses, anthropologist Robin Dunbar proposed that 150 is the optimum size for any group trying to achieve a goal (Daft, 2008, p. 338). Dunbar says beyond that size, the group's effectiveness wanes because of too many rules, procedures, and red tape that slows things down and saps group morale, enthusiasm, and commitment (Daft, 2008, p. 308). There are also many other benefits to small “no growth” businesses. That is why “no growth” philosophy of management should be taught in business schools. Many types of businesses are best when small, also many business owners do not want a large business like Ford.


Daft, R. (2008). Organization theory and design (10th ed.). South-Western: Mason, OH, 2004.

Dellaert, B. & Dabholkar. P. (2009). Increasing the Attractiveness of Mass Customization: The Role of Complementary On-line Services and Range of Options. International Journal of Electronic Commerce. 13(3), 43-70.

Phillips, E. (2003, October). BIZAV Battling Bureaucracy. Aviation Week & Space Technology. 159(14), 60-62.

Welles, E. (1995, May). There are no simple business anymore. Inc. 17(7), 66.