The majority of successful senior managers do not closely follow the classical rational model of first clarifying goals, assessing the problem, formulating options, estimating likelihoods of success, making a decision, and only then taking action to implement the decision. Rather, in their day-by-day tactical maneuvers, these senior executives rely on what is vaguely termed “intuition” to manage a network of interrelated problems that require them to deal with ambiguity, inconsistency, novelty, and surprise; and to integrate action into the process of thinking.
Generations of writers on management have recognized that some practicing managers rely heavily on intuition. In general, however, such writers display a poor grasp of what intuition is. Some see it as the opposite of rationality; others view it as an excuse for capriciousness.
Isenberg’s recent research on the cognitive processes of senior managers reveals that managers’ intuition is neither of these. Rather, senior managers use intuition in at least five distinct ways. First, they intuitively sense when a problem exists. Second, managers rely on intuition to perform well-learned behavior patterns rapidly. This intuition is not arbitrary or irrational, but is based on years of painstaking practice and hands-on experience that build skills. A third function of intuition is to synthesize isolated bits of data and practice into an integrated picture, often in an “Aha!” experience. Fourth, some managers use intuition as a check on the results of more rational analysis. Most senior executives are familiar with the formal decision analysis models and tools, and those who use such systematic methods for reaching decisions are occasionally leery of solutions suggested by these methods which run counter to their sense of the correct course of action. Finally, managers can use intuition to bypass in-depth analysis and move rapidly to engender a plausible solution. Used in this way, intuition is an almost instantaneous cognitive process in which a manager recognizes familiar patterns. One of the implications of the intuitive style of executive management is that “thinking” is inseparable from acting. Since managers often “know” what is right before they can analyze and explain it, they frequently act first and explain later. Analysis is inextricably tied to action in thinking/acting cycles, in which managers develop thoughts about their companies and organizations not by analyzing a problematic situation and then acting, but by acting and analyzing in close concert.
Given the great uncertainty of many of the management issues that they face, senior managers often instigate a course of action simply to learn more about an issue. They then use the results of the action to develop a more complete understanding of the issue. One implication of thinking/acting cycles is that action is often part of defining the problem, not just of implementing the solution.
1. According to the passage, senior managers use intuition in all of the following ways EXCEPT to
(A) speed up of the creation of a solution to a problem
(B) identify a problem
(C) bring together disparate facts
(D) stipulate clear goals
(E) evaluate possible solutions to a problem
2. The passage suggests which of the following about the “writers on management” mentioned in line 12?
(A) They have criticized managers for not following the classical rational model of decision analysis.
(B) They have not based their analyses on a sufficiently large sample of actual managers.
(C) They have relied in drawing their conclusions on what managers say rather than on what managers do.
(D) They have misunderstood how managers use intuition in making business decisions.
(E) They have not acknowledged the role of intuition in managerial practice.
3. Which of the following best exemplifies “an ‘Aha!’ experience” (line 28) as it is presented in the passage?
(A) A manager risks taking an action whose outcome is unpredictable to discover whether the action changes the problem at hand.
(B) A manager performs well-learned and familiar behavior patterns in creative and uncharacteristic ways to solve a problem.
(C) A manager suddenly connects seemingly unrelated facts and experiences to create a pattern relevant to the problem at hand.
(D) A manager rapidly identifies the methodology used to compile data yielded by systematic analysis.
(E) A manager swiftly decides which of several sets of tactics to implement in order to deal with the contingencies suggested by a problem.
4. According to the passage, the classical model of decision analysis includes all of the following EXCEPT
(A) evaluation of a problem
(B) creation of possible solutions to a problem
(C) establishment of clear goals to be reached by the decision
(D) action undertaken in order to discover more information about a problem
(E) comparison of the probable effects of different solutions to a problem
5. It can be inferred from the passage that which of the following would most probably be one major difference in behavior between Manager X, who uses intuition to reach decisions, and Manager Y, who uses only formal decision analysis?
(A) Manager X analyzes first and then acts; Manager Y does not.
(B) Manager X checks possible solutions to a problem by systematic analysis; Manager Y does not.
(C) Manager X takes action in order to arrive at the solution to a problem; Manager Y does not.
(D) Manager Y draws on years of hands-on experience in creating a solution to a problem; Manager X does not.
(E) Manger Y depends on day-to-day tactical maneuvering; manager X does not.
6. It can be inferred from the passage that “thinking/acting cycles” (line 45) in managerial practice would be likely to result in which of the following?
I. A manager analyzes a network of problems and then acts on the basis of that analysis.
II. A manager gathers data by acting and observing the effects of action.
III. A manager takes action without being able to articulate reasons for that particular action.
(A) I only
(B) II only
(C) I and II only
(D) II and III only
(E) I, II, and III
7. The passage provides support for which of the following statements?
(A) Managers who rely on intuition are more successful than those who rely on formal decision analysis.
(B) Managers cannot justify their intuitive decisions.
(C) Managers’ intuition works contrary to their rational and analytical skills.
(D) Logical analysis of a problem increases the number of possible solutions.
(E) Intuition enables managers to employ their practical experience more efficiently.
8. Which of the following best describes the organization of the first paragraph of the passage?
(A) An assertion is made and a specific supporting example is given.
(B) A conventional model is dismissed and an alternative introduced.
(C) The results of recent research are introduced and summarized.
(D) Two opposing points of view are presented and evaluated.
(E) A widely accepted definition is presented and qualified.
Nearly a century ago, biologists found that if they separated an invertebrate animal embryo into two parts at an early stage of its life, it would survive and develop as two normal embryos. This led them to believe that the cells in the early embryo are undetermined in the sense that each cell has the potential to develop in a variety of different ways. Later biologists found that the situation was not so simple. It matters in which plane the embryo is cut. If it is cut in a plane different from the one used by the early investigators, it will not form two whole embryos.
A debate arose over what exactly was happening. Which embryo cells are determined, just when do they become irreversibly committed to their fates, and what are the “morphogenetic determinants” that tell a cell what to become? But the debate could not be resolved because no one was able to ask the crucial questions in a form in which they could be pursued productively. Recent discoveries in molecular biology, however, have opened up prospects for a resolution of the debate. Now investigators think they know at least some of the molecules that act as morphogenetic determinants in early development. They have been able to show that, in a sense, cell determination begins even before an egg is fertilized.
Studying sea urchins, biologist Paul Gross found that an unfertilized egg contains substances that function as morphogenetic determinants. They are located in the cytoplasm of the egg cell; i.e., in that part of the cell’s protoplasm that lies outside of the nucleus. In the unfertilized egg, the substances are inactive and are not distributed homogeneously. When the egg is fertilized, the substances become active and, presumably, govern the behavior of the genes they interact with. Since the substances are unevenly distributed in the egg, when the fertilized egg divides, the resulting cells are different from the start and so can be qualitatively different in their own gene activity.
The substances that Gross studied are maternal messenger RNA’s—products of certain of the maternal genes. He and other biologists studying a wide variety of organisms have found that these particular RNA’s direct, in large part, the synthesis of histones, a class of proteins that bind to DNA. Once synthesized, the histones move into the cell nucleus, where section of DNA wrap around them to form a structure that resembles beads, or knots, on a string. The beads are DNA segments wrapped around the histones; the string is the intervening DNA. And it is the structure of these beaded DNA strings that guide the fate of the cells in which they are located.
1. The passage is most probably directed at which kind of audience?
(A) State legislators deciding about funding levels for a state-funded biological laboratory
(B) Scientists specializing in molecular genetics
(C) Readers of an alumni newsletter published by the college that Paul Gross attended
(D) Marine biologists studying the processes that give rise to new species
(E) Undergraduate biology majors in a molecular biology course
2. It can be inferred from the passage that the morphogenetic determinants present in the early embryo are
(A) located in the nucleus of the embryo cells
(B) evenly distributed unless the embryo is not developing normally
(C) inactive until the embryo cells become irreversibly committed to their final function
(D) identical to those that were already present in the unfertilized egg
(E) present in larger quantities than is necessary for the development of a single individual
3. The main topic of the passage is
(A) the early development of embryos of lower marine organisms
(B) the main contribution of modern embryology to molecular biology
(C) the role of molecular biology in disproving older theories of embryonic development
(D) cell determination as an issue in the study of embryonic development
(E) scientific dogma as a factor in the recent debate over the value of molecular
4. According to the passage, when biologists believed that the cells in the early embryo were undetermined, they made which of the following mistakes?
(A) They did not attempt to replicate the original experiment of separating an embryo into two parts.
(B) They did not realize that there was a connection between the issue of cell determination and the outcome of the separation experiment.
(C) They assumed that the results of experiments on embryos did not depend on the particular animal species used for such experiments.
(D) They assumed that it was crucial to perform the separation experiment at an early stage in the embryo’s life.
(E) They assumed that different ways of separating an embryo into two parts would be equivalent as far as the fate of the two parts was concerned.
5. It can be inferred from the passage that the initial production of histones after an egg is fertilized takes place
(A) in the cytoplasm
(B) in the maternal genes
(C) throughout the protoplasm
(D) in the beaded portions of the DNA strings
(E) in certain sections of the cell nucleus
6. It can be inferred from the passage that which of the following is dependent on the fertilization of an egg?
(A) Copying of maternal genes to produce maternal messenger RNA’s
(B) Synthesis of proteins called histones
(C) Division of a cell into its nucleus and the cytoplasm
(D) Determination of the egg cell’s potential for division
(E) Generation of all of a cell’s morphogenetic determinants
7. According to the passage, the morphogenetic determinants present in the unfertilized egg cell are which of the following?
(A) Proteins bound to the nucleus
(C) Maternal messenger RNA’s
(E) Nonbeaded intervening DNA
8. The passage suggests that which of the following plays a role in determining whether an embryo separated into two parts will develop as two normal embryos?
I. The stage in the embryo’s life at which the separation occurs
II. The instrument with which the separations is accomplished
III. The plane in which the cut is made that separates the embryo
(A) I only
(B) II only
(C) I and II only
(D) I and III only
(E) I, II, and III
9. Which of the following circumstances is most comparable to the impasse biologists encountered in trying to resolve the debate about cell determination (lines 12-18)?
(A) The problems faced by a literary scholar who wishes to use original source materials that are written in an unfamiliar foreign language
(B) The situation of a mathematician who in preparing a proof of a theorem for publication detects a reasoning error in the proof
(C) The difficulties of a space engineer who has to design equipment to function in an environment in which it cannot first be tested
(D) The predicament of a linguist trying to develop a theory of language acquisition when knowledge of the structure of language itself is rudimentary at best
(E) The dilemma confronting a foundation when the funds available to it are sufficient to support one of two equally deserving scientific projects but not both
Answers of these passages