GMAT Essays, second attempt: Apathy about Management

“The common notion that workers are generally apathetic about management issues is false, or at least outdated: a recently published survey indicates that 79 percent of the nearly 1,200 workers who responded to survey questionnaires expressed a high level of interest int he topics of corporate restructuring and redesign of benefits program”

Discuss how well reasoned …etc.

This argument challenges the general notion that workers are apathetic about management issues, by mentioning the results of a recent surveys that showed a high interest in certain management topics among the respondents. However, the evidence mentioned in the argument appears to be too specific to make any general statement. Moreover, the representativeness of the sample cannot be assessed based on what the argument states. Therefore, this alone does not allow to make a general claim applicable to all workers and comprehensive of all management issues.

A convincing argument would have to consider at least the following three elements: a statistically sound survey, a comprehensive list of questions on management topics and the segmentation of the surveyed sample.

First, a survey should consider not only the total number of respondents, but also the total number of non respondents. This information is not given in the argument, which explicitly mentioned that the results are based only on the workers who responded to the questionnaire; therefore, it is not possible to determine to what percentage of the total surveyed people corresponds the mentioned 79 percent figure. Without this element, it is only possible to conclude that those who answered are (not surprisingly) highly interested in the two topics above.

Second, the expressions of high interest concern only the topics of corporate restructuring and the redesign of benefits program. Both topics are clearly the subject of high interest for most of the workers: the former because it is directly related to major changes in the organization with the potential to affect one’s career, the latter because it has an impact on every employees benefits such as retirement plans, healthcare assurance etc. This does not prove that the workers are concerned about other management issues that involve the rest of the organization, for example those related to the efficient management of the company or to the effective communication of decisions and strategies throughout the organization’s hierarchy.

Finally, no information is given on the composition of the surveyed sample. Do the 1,200 surveyed workers who responded to the questionnaire belong to the higher or lower spheres of the respective companies? It is clear that those with more responsibilities – coordinators, managers and executives – most likely are very much concerned about management issues, while those with less responsibilities – line workers, clerks and support staff – are more likely to be apathetic towards the same issues. In the former case, the reported figures may be not surprising, while in the latter case a high percentage would constitute a really significant, perhaps unexpected and noteworthy, result.

In conclusion, despite the argument shows that within a rather unidentified part of the body of workforce (the respondent), and on certain specific topics (corporate restructuring and benefits program) there seems to be a high sensitivity, the evidence is not enough to falsify the general belief that most of the workers are generally apathetic about management issues.