THE UTILIZATION OF SPECIALISTS BY COMPANY PRESIDENTS

The Presidents Association, 1975

 

INTRODUCTION

 

"It has been traditional to think of managers of business or organizations as constituting two large groups: those who take action, the line managers, and those who supply information or give advice, the staff. This divided way of thinking about the organization has been perpetuated even though the functional (line) managers, such as those in marketing or manufacturing, have specialized operating techniques and operating methods. And it has continued even though in larger organizations the staff functions have their own line management."

 

"These traditional specialists have in relatively recent times been joined by a group of specialists who are applying distinctive new approaches. Included in this group are specialists in management science, data processing, strategic planning, behavioral science, and organization development. These newer specialized knowledge professionals carry out operations and make recommendations using complex procedures and equipment. Presidents have a least as large a responsibility for managing these functions as for managing the more traditional ones, but because of the highly specialized content and methodology of the newer specialties, the evaluation, direction, and control of these functions is significantly more difficult."

 

"The traditional answer to increasing complexity, in business as elsewhere, has been the development of specialists who had an opportunity to grapple with details over time, so that their methods and solutions gradually became institutionalized into practices, and they into practitioners of those standardized methods."

 

"In a general way these specialists were integrated into the organization as staff, whose function was to provide technical support…Staff were essentially considered to be advisory, or keepers of detail. Decision making was a thing apart, and a corporate or other line decision could be made, and put into effect, even though it might run counter to all staff recommendations."

 

"After a quarter of a century of effort and experience, the gap is beginning to close; top management is beginning to find ways to bring the work of the information specialists into the decision-making process. This kind of integration us being accomplished with increasing success - and is becoming increasingly visible in corporate results - in a number of organizations, under the leadership of their chief executives. The experiences of a few of these companies, and the reactions of their presidents, form the basis of this study. They illustrate what can be and is being done by presidents as they learn more about the management and use of specialists."

© 2019 William H. Gruber