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Multifunctional managerial development: A framework for evaluating the options

by Daphna F. Raskas, Donald C. Brick
Organizational Dynamics ()


At first glance, the idea bristles with intuitive appeal: Here is a way\nfor managers to become `'experts in the total organization''-to achieve\na broad-based cosmopolitanism that helps them expedite new projects\nacross functional boundaries. These are among the often-cited benefits\nof multifunctional managerial development (MFD), a company's systematic\nefforts to expose managers to multiple functions within the enterprise.\nIndeed, MFD can be a powerful tool for preparing today's managers for\nthe dynamic rigors of tomorrow's highly competitive marketplace. In\naddition, a policy of providing multifunctional opportunities can be a\ncritical ingredient in overcoming the stagnation of long job tenures\ncharacteristic of today's delayered organization. However,\nmultifunctional development is not equally suitable for every company.\nDepending on the situation, the costs of MFD can greatly outweigh the\nbenefits. In this article, Raskas and Hambrick present a systematic\nframework for setting MFD policies. The authors point out the wide range\nof practical options companies have for exposing managers to multiple\nfunctions, arguing that MFD is not an all-or-nothing proposition. This\nleads to a contingency framework for judging the appropriateness of MFD\nfor a given situation. By considering such factors as business strategy,\norganizational culture, the functions involved, and the personalities of\nindividual managers, an organization can begin to gauge the benefits it\nwould receive from various MFD approaches. Finally, successful\nimplementation rests on a variety of practical concerns, including\njob-posting systems and financial incentives.

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