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Managerial competence and new technology: don't shoot the piano player—he's doing his best

Burnes B (1991) Managerial competence and new technology: don't shoot the piano player—he's doing his best, Behaviour and Information Technology, 10 (2), pp. 91-109.

Much concern has been expressed over the last few years regarding the lack of success of British companies when introducing new technology. Though many explanations have been given for this, often there is one common factor: the competence of British managers. This article examines the relationship between managerial competence and the poor record of British companies in successfully introducing new technology. It argues that in examining these issues too much attention is paid to the final decisions taken by managers, and their consequences, and not enough to the context- the organizational circumstances- in which the decisions are arrived at. It begins by examining the impact of organizational structures and practices (socio-structure) on managerial decision-making. Empirical evidence relating to the purchase of computer systems is presented which shows how socio-structure limits and shapes managerial behaviour and success with new technology. It then proceeds to discuss the relationship between socio-structure and culture, arguing that these need to be in harmony if organisations are to operate effectively. The article concludes by positing that many cases of poor decision-making owe more to inappropriate and conflicting socio-structures and cultures than to the competence of individual managers.

AuthorsBurnes Bernard
Publication date1991
PublisherTaylor and Francis
ISSN 0144-929X

Behaviour and Information Technology: Volume 10, Issue 2

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