External and Internal Influences on Management
Management is one of those critical concepts that have continued to attract attention. Just look at millions of books that have already been written on the subject and it becomes absolutely clear just important this concept has become. It is the critical role that management plays that tens of hundreds of articles, books, and papers are written on the subject. The one important aspect of management is external and internal factors that influence shape or improve management styles. These factors can be anything from economic changes, market trends, and rival strategies to employee grievances, motivation problems, production issues etc. Management is all about supervising manpower, allocating responsibilities, clearing bottlenecks and meeting deadlines and reaching targets. However all this is easier said than done and in many cases, management becomes a much more complex and complicated job than it appears. Managers are almost solely responsible for many important decisions in the organization and their consequences as well. For this reason managers have to remain highly sensitive to internal and external changes, issues, problems in order to best meet the challenges.
When we talk about external factors, we usually classify them into five categories namely technological, economic, social, political and international. A manager must remain sensitive to changes taking place in all these areas because these forces have a strong bearing on the organization. Management is closely connected with the task of keeping a watchful eye on the external environment. This is where the activities such as scanning and sensing step in. Lawton (1995) explains: “organizations in competitive fast changing product/market relationships, like chameleons, need to change color to suit the environment in which they find themselves- Scanning, sensing, and processing information and modifying themselves to fit, automatically.” (p. 28).
From this we understand that a manager needs to not only sense changes but must also be prepared to shape the organizational strategies accordingly. Anything that appears challenging or threatening in the external environment needs to be taken seriously and this is where management plays a key role.
Internal factors or forces on the other hand are more concerned with organizational culture, mission and values and human resource. While all managers are required to remain true to organization’s culture and uphold its values at all times, a real manager is the one who knows when to mould the culture in such a way that it would remain close to its original values while at the same time also become more accepting of external changes. A manager who is blinded by his organization’s culture and beliefs is likely to miss signs of external change. Management needs to understand that internal forces are within its control and thus can be used constructively for the benefit of the entire organization instead of allowing it to control the people and the firm. A culture is a guide but often this guide can be highly misleading, making the management believe that there is only one way of doing things or one road to ultimate success. The truth however can be best expressed in the words of Sun Tzu who wrote in the Art of War, some 2,500 years ago that “there is no invariable strategic advantage (shih), no invariable position (hsing), which can be relied upon at all times.” (Anamnesis, 1996) For this reason, management must understand that while the culture influences it, it can also be influenced with correct vision and proper planning.
Lawton, P. (1995, September). Initiating and managing change in your organization. CMA Magazine, 69 28-32.
Anamnesis, A. (1996). The root ideas in dealing with change. Physician Executive, 22 41-45.
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