What do managers’ know? Examining experienced managers’ wisdom

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Purpose: The paper critically examines the nature of managerial knowledge, highlights the limitations of formal managerial knowledge in informing managerial practice and demonstrates the role of alternative forms of knowledge, knowing and wisdom in informing the practice of a sample of middle-managers. Design/Methodology/Approach: The literature of managerial knowledge and wisdom is critically reviewed and seven components of wisdom are identified and discussed. Empirically, a qualitative research approach was adopted which involved visual-elicitation interviews focused on the nature of the work and learning of nineteen later-career middle-managers. Interviews were transcribed and an inductive, thematic, analysis of the data undertaken. Findings: The findings show the incidence and types and extent of wisdom evident in the managers’ accounts of their work. Extensive empirical evidence is interpreted in the light of an inductively derived analytical framework. Research Limitations/Implications: Certain limitations of the research are acknowledged and practical suggestions developed for further research. Practical Implications: Practical implications include the need for skepticism regarding the contributions of the corpus of formal management knowledge to managerial practice and the need to change the emphasis in manager development and education. Specific suggestions are developed for educational practices to cultivate wisdom. Originality / Value: The paper consolidates disparate critiques of formal managerial knowledge, provides a useful analytical typology of managerial wisdom and presents sound evidence of the extent and nature of wisdom used in middle-managers’ practice.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015
EventUFHRD Conference 2015 - Cork
Duration: 1 Jun 2015 → …


ConferenceUFHRD Conference 2015
Period1/06/15 → …


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