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The following appeared in a report presented for
discussion at a meeting of the directors
of a company that manufactures parts for heavy machinery.
"The falling revenues that the
company is experiencing coincide with delays in manufacturing.
These delays, in turn, are due in large part to poor planning in purchasing
metals. Consider further that the manager of the department that handles
purchasing of raw materials has an excellent background in general business,
psychology, and sociology, but knows little about the properties of metals.
The company should, therefore,
move the purchasing manager to the sales department
and bring in a scientist from the research division to be manager of the purchasing
Discuss how well reasoned... etc.
In response to a coincidence between falling
revenues and delays in manufacturing, the report recommends replacing the
manager of the purchasing department. The
grounds for this action are twofold.
First, the delays are traced to poor planning in purchasing metals. Second,
the purchasing managerís lack of knowledge of the properties of metals is
thought to be the cause of the poor planning. It is further
recommended that the position of the purchasing manager be filled by a scientist
from the research division and that the current
purchasing manager be reassigned to the sales department. In support of this
latter recommendation, the report states that the
current purchasing managerís background in general business, psychology, and
sociology equip him for this new assignment. The recommendations
advanced in the report are questionable for two reasons.
To begin with, the report fails to establish
a causal connection between
the falling revenues of the company and the delays in manufacturing.
The mere fact that falling revenues coincide with delays in manufacturing is
insufficient to conclude that the delays caused
the decline in revenue. Without compelling
evidence to support the causal connection
between these two events, the reportís recommendations
are not worthy of consideration.
Second, a central assumption of the
report is that knowledge of the properties of metals is necessary for planning
in purchasing metals. No evidence is
stated in the report to support this crucial assumption. Moreover, it is not
obvious that such knowledge would be required
to perform this task. Since planning is essentially a logistical
function, it is doubtful that in-depth
knowledge of the properties of metals
would be helpful in accomplishing this task.
In conclusion, this is a weak argument. To
strengthen the recommendation that the manager of the purchasing department be
replaced,the author would have to demonstrate that the falling revenues were a
result of the delays in manufacturing. Additionally, the author would
have to show that knowledge of the properties of metals is a prerequisite
for planning in purchasing metals.