A pressing need in the study of organizations is for more research into how an organization's values (an organization's guiding principles and beliefs as perceived by its members) affect managerial decision-making. Traditional theories have been based on a "rational model," which focuses on the decision-maker and either ignores the organizational value climate or conveniently assumes that the organization's values are consistent or clearly prioritized. In reality, however, decisions are shaped not only by a manager's own values, but also by those of the corporate culture and of organizational superiors. A recent study found that managers' most stressful decisions involved "value contention" (conflicts among any of these sets of values). Furthermore, different types of organizational value systems were associated with different frequencies of contending values as well as with different types of managerial response. Explicit corporate values, for example, produced a greater percentage of decisions that were stressful due to value contention. Hidden values (those that an organization practices but does not acknowledge or which a superior furtively pursues in opposition to the values of the organization) produced a lower level of value contention. Although explicit values created more value contention, they were nonetheless more likely to produce flexible, well-reasoned decisions. Conversely, managers perplexed by hidden values reported feeling unable to identify an appropriate range of options.


According to the passage, value contention has been shown to affect managers by


decreasing their ability to conform to the values of the organization

decreasing their ability to discern clearly the guiding principles and beliefs of the organization

narrowing their range of options in the decision-making process

increasing the frequency and intensity of conflicts with superiors and subordinates

increasing the level of mental or emotional strain that accompanies the decision-making process

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