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jobs is poorly developed, perhaps, in part, because an intense belief in the importance of general management skills has precluded attempts to map functional specialization in management and to inventory the kinds of skills that such specialization requires. The situation is analogous to claiming that there are no meaningful differences between the work of a neurosurgeon and the work of dermatologist because both are doctors. Finally, as most ethnographers of work know, it is notoriously more difficult to gain access to observe the work of managers than it is to gain access to study the work of those whom managers supervise.
Nevertheless, the tremendous consistency in the business press's portrayal of how management is changing indicates that substantial changes may indeed be occurring in the nature of managerial work. These changes appear to have been occasioned by the same developments that have altered blue-collar work: namely, downsizing and the shift to team-based work systems. Two developments seem especially plausible, although they are in need of much better documentation and they are likely to exhibit considerable variation across firms, industries, and hierarchical levels. First, at least lower-level managers appear to have experienced some loss in authority and control. Second, the need to communicate horizontally across the internal and external boundaries of organizations may be becoming more important than the supervision of an employee's work. There is also considerable talk about the substantive content of managers' jobs, shifting toward the procurement and coordination of resources, toward coaching as opposed to commanding employees, and toward project management skills. In attempting to assess these changes, however, it is particularly difficult to separate rhetoric from reality.
Given the variation of developments within and between broad occupational groups and the paucity of research on service and especially managerial work, it is difficult to draw many strong conclusions regarding general trends in the nature of work. Nevertheless, considering all available evidence, the committee believes two conjectures concerning the broader trajectory of work in a postindustrial economy seem particularly plausible and worthy of considerably more scrutiny. First, it does not appear that work is becoming more routine or less skilled than in the