The aim of this paper is to explain some of the reasons why the methods by which aspiring managers acquire and utilize knowledge deserve as much attention as the volume and content of their knowledge. The central theme is that managerial decision making can be enhanced by focusing explicit attention on the quality of cognitive processes. A secondary theme highlights the parallel between human mental evolution and the increasing emphasis on cognitive skills in successive economic eras.
The expanding role o£ managers from profit makers to social entrepreneurs is linked to the evolution of economies through the incorporation of new technologies, and to social pressures of contemporary societies. The consequent increase in dimensions of decision making is related to demands on the cognitive skills of managers. Judgemental input to decision making is examined because of its influence on outcomes of decisions, but particularly because judgement is an important factor in distinguishing an expert from a novice. In recognition that managers make decisions within the bounds of their information processing capabilities, the discussion of judgement includes some of the heuristics used to supplement rational thinking when the complexity of tasks go beyond that which managers can process rationally. A relationship is established between quality of decision making and mental modelling of the external environment. Internal representations are explained in terms of the methods by which decision makers acquire and use information.
The above is used as a basis for the inference that information based economies require from management education an orientation to greater fluency in knowledge acquisition and utilization than did the agriculture and manufacture based economies. Aspiring managers are encouraged to become aware of their cognitive capabilities in the interest of developing flexible decision making strategies. This heightened mental awareness affords the option of increasing the spread of reliance on cognitive styles and intellectual abilities. This recommendation to student managers is made in the light of a shift in focus of evolution from physical to mental development.
The relevance of expert systems to management is outlined in terms their economic and intellectual impacts as decision making support for professionals. Managerial decision making is related to contemporary trends including international interdependencies, global production, and differentiation of managerial functions. The implications for management education are discussed, and the last chapter offers a proposal for an instructional design in the form of an expert system which teaches Business Policy.