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First Try on Argument and Issue AWA [#permalink]
09 Jan 2011, 10:27
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Hey everyone. I took my first practice GMAT last night. The practice test was from ManhattanGMAT. I have included both my argument essay and issue essay for review. I would appreciate any feedback since this is my first attempt at the AWA section. If you want, just leave a numerical score. If you have specific comments, that's great too. Both essays are slightly over 600 words. Thanks!
ARGUMENT ESSAY QUESTION:
The following appeared in an article in a human resources magazine:
"Six months ago, in an experiment aimed at boosting worker productivity, Company Z started providing free gourmet lunches to its employees. The Company hoped that these office lunches would encourage employees to remain in the building during lunch-hour and motivate employees to work harder throughout the day. A survey found that soon after the lunch program was implemented, the average number of hours worked by most Company Z employees increased dramatically. During this same period, the Company's profits also increased substantially. Thus, it is safe to say that the lunch program was a huge success and that Company Z should make the program permanent."
Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. Point out flaws in the argument's logic and analyze the argument's underlying assumptions. In addition, evaluate how supporting evidence is used and what evidence might counter the argument's conclusion. You may also discuss what additional evidence could be used to strengthen the argument or what changes would make the argument more logically sound.
YOUR RESPONSE: The argument claims that the lunch program at Company Z was a huge success because a survey found that soon after the lunch program was implemented, Company Z employees worked longer hours on average and the Company's profits increased dramatically during this period. As a result, the argument suggests that the Company should make the lunch program permanent. Stated in this way the argument fails to mention several key factors, on the basis of which it could be evaluated. The conclusion relies on assumptions, for which there is no clear evidence. Therefore, the argument is rather weak, unconvincing, and has several flaws.
First, the argument readily assumes that the increase in the average number of hours worked by most Company Z employees during the period of the survey is due to the Company's lunch program. This statement is a stretch and not substantiated in any way. For example, perhaps during this period work in general picked up for most of the Company's employees. In such an instance, the lunch program would not be the cause of the increase in average hours worked. The argument could have been much clearer if it had explicitly gave examples describing in what ways the Company's lunch program led to the Company's employees working longer hours. For instance, in what specific ways did the Company's newly implemented gourmet lunches motivate employees to work harder throughout the day?
Second, the argument claims that the lunch program was a success because the Company's profits substantially increased during the period of the survey. This is again a very weak and unsupported claim as the argument does not demonstrate any correlation between the success of the lunch program and higher profits for the Company. To illustrate, while it is possible that the lunch program did indeed make employees work harder throughout the day, thus boosting their productivity and increasing the Company's profits as a result, it could also be the case that worker productivity did not change at all. In the latter instance, the Company's profits could have increased substantially because the Company's employees were working longer hours, not because they were more productive. If the argument had provided concrete evidence that the lunch program did in fact make workers more productive, thus increasing their productivity and making the lunch program a success, then the argument would have been much more convincing.
Finally, the argument concludes that the Company should make the lunch program permanent because of its huge success in substantially increasing the Company's profits. From this statement again, it is not at all clear why the program should be made permanent as the argument never provided evidence for ways in which the program increased the Company's profits in the first place during the period of the survey. Without supporting evidence, one could just as well conclude that other factors, not the lunch program, led to the Company's higher profits. In addition, because the aim of the lunch program as stated was to boost worker productivity, and because consequently employees at the Company worked on average more hours, one is left with the possibility of concluding that the lunch program actually did not achieve its goal of making workers more productive. As a result, the argument's failure to address such questions makes the claim that the lunch program should be implemented on a permanent basis even less convincing.
In conclusion, the argument is flawed for the above-mentioned reasons and is therefore unconvincing. It could be considerably strengthened if the author clearly mentioned all the relevant facts. In order to assess the merits of a certain situation, it is essential to have full knowledge of all contributing factors. Without this information, the argument remains unsubstantiated and open to debate.
ISSUE ESSAY QUESTION: “Companies should be prohibited from monitoring e-mail correspondence of their employees, since this policy destroys the atmosphere of trust and undermines employee morale.”
From your perspective, how accurate is the above statement? Support your position with reasons and/or examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.
YOUR RESPONSE: Some people think that companies should not be allowed to monitor e-mail correspondence of their employees as such a policy prohibits an atmosphere of trust from developing and weakens employee morale. Other people support the claim that companies should instead be allowed to monitor e-mail correspondence of their employees because such a policy maintains a certain level of appropriate employee conduct. The issue is a controversial one but a closer examination reveals that companies should in fact not be prohibited from monitoring e-mail correspondence of their employees in order to prevent illegal acts of employees to go unnoticed.
One reason is that companies that enforce a monitoring policy do deter employees from sending each other e-mails that are not appropriate to the workplace. For example, if an employee discovers a funny yet inappropriate video on the Internet that he wants to send around to his colleagues through e-mail, he will think twice before sending it around knowing that his company might monitor the e-mail and get him into trouble. Furthermore, if this same employee receives a similarly funny email, he might be tempted to forward it in e-mail to other employees. A monitoring policy would again most likely prevent the employee from passing along the e-mail. Clearly, such a policy then results in less unproductive time spent by employees.
Another reason is that the very existence of the policy, even if it is not enforced strictly and thoroughly, is enough to prevent employees from corresponding through e-mail in manners that are not conducive to them doing their jobs well. To illustrate, the very possibility of an employee knowing that any of his e-mails can be monitored by the company is reason enough for him to send only relevant emails. Therefore, the policy need not be enforced strictly for it to have positive effects within a company. In addition, by encouraging employees to work more efficiently, workers will feel better about the effort they have put in, thereby not undermining employee morale but instead increasing it. As a result, a monitoring policy makes employees more efficient without necessarily undermining employee morale.
Perhaps the best reason is that by monitoring e-mail correspondence of their employees, companies can prevent their good images with shareholders and potential investors from being ruined due to the release of damaging e-mails between company employees. Specifically, in recent years the allegation that many investment banks engaged in insider trading is a potentially devastating situation. This is because such a claim, if proven true, can not only result in large fines for the pertinent companies but more importantly tarnish their reputations, which can take years to restore to previous levels. E-mail exchanges between employees engaged in insider trading are substantial evidence for proving that some investment banks did in fact engage in insider trading. As a result, companies should monitor e-mail correspondences of their employees to ensure such potentially damaging e-mails are never sent in the first place. In fact, it is once again beneficial to employees not to send such e-mails as they can result in damages to the company which in turn affect these very workers since they work at the company.
In summary, while there are arguments to be made for both sides, it is clear that there are greater advantages for companies to monitor e-mail correspondences of their employees. Certainly such a policy will deter employees from sending out inappropriate e-mails, which will make them more productive at work as well as keep them out of potential trouble. Moreover, a monitoring policy may actually strengthen employee morale and maintain the atmosphere of trust, which depends on numerous factors. Hence, the benefits of monitoring policies outweigh those of not having one.