critical enquiry

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2012
"Manager exists to deal with uncertainty". Critically analyse using examples, how differing views on the nature of evidence can impact on the both management and organizations? See Notes & Appendix for more details on the paper.

Abhishek Singh, 2047092
University of Glasgow - MBA
11/5/2012

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1. Introduction

If there is no uncertainty then manager’s role will be in question and if we take uncertainty into consideration then there is a need for manager to deal with it (Smith & Tomb, 2000). Manager’s role is to collect appropriate information, act upon evidence, make proper decision and reduce uncertainty (Smith, 2005). (Jauch & Kraft, 1996) argued that manager might seek uncertainties in the environment rather than to avoid them, e.g. Pharmaceutical companies make mistakes while creating medicines and patent them to create uncertainty about the direction of the chemicals in the minds of their competitors. Sometimes, manager’s become the author of their own misfortune (Smith & Fischbacher, 2009). So, do they somehow integrate risk and uncertainty in their decision making?

Risk society (Beck, 1992) has become more vulnerable post modernity. For example, there has been significant research on climate change but due to the differing views on the outcomes and the counter arguments on the domain specific results among the experts put it in a loop (Adger et al. 2003). This raises many questions, is science needed to be more sophisticated? Or can organizations maintain status quo and not react at all? Or act upon the evidence, but which evidence? Or “Differing views of people are often faulty” (Bazerman, 2002:50–1)?

This paper would discuss the essence of managers in dealing with uncertainty using different risk parameters. It would also try to build an argument on nature of evidence, politization of scientist and media influence. It will use an example of Climate change risk – a “borderless phenomena” (Smith & Fischbacher, 2009:3) and Kyoto Protocol as precautionary measure in discussing differing views and its impact on performance of management and organization.

2. Uncertainty Key Element

Uncertainty has been a significant area for research and scientific debates (Corbett and Durfee, 2004, cited in Smith, 2012) but (Spiegelhalter and Riesch, 2011) think it should be considered as a contingent phenomena. (Winter, 1987) Suggested that the value of a firm is University Of Glasgow - "Manager exists to deal with uncertainty". Critically analyse using examples, how differing views on the nature of evidence can impact on the both management and organizations? See Notes & Appendix for more details on the paper.

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proportional to it complexities, its values are more inclined to patents, capabilities, machines, organizational structure, experts and so on. The attributes driving complexities from Winter’s (1987) perspective enhances complexities in organization and compound the problem for managers.

“It is necessary to differentiate between risk, which is an event with a known probability, and true uncertainty, which is an event with an unknown probability”. - (Costanza and Cornwell, 1992)

Uncertainty may be considered from a range of zero level for the certain events to the intermediate level for statistical uncertainty or known probabilities (risk) to high levels with uncertainty or indeterminacy.

Donald Rumsfeld’s famous statement that there are “known knowns” when he was secretary of defence of the United States (2001-2006). Known-knowns (Seely, 2003) – the things which we know we know, Known-unknowns (Seely, 2003; Glucksberg and McCloskey, 1981) – the things which we know we don’t know , unknowns-unknowns – the things which we don’t know we don’t know (Seely, 2003). In most cases we consider risks and uncertainties are related to each other but it would make more sense if looked in the dimensions of predictability and unpredictability (Smith & Calman, 2010; Jarvis, 2008). When tried to...
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