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Manager
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18 Jun 2011, 01:16
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Hi,
Please rate my Analysis of Argument.

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 department.

Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound, and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate its conclusion.

My response

The argument claims that the falling revenue of the company coincides with delays in manufacturing and these delays are because of poor planning in purchasing metals. The manager does not have the necessary scientific knowledge of the metals, which is root cause of the problem and therefore replace the manager by a scientist from the research division. Stated in this way the argument fails to mention various key factors on which it has been evaluated. It fails to mention other key factors that has contributed to the fall in revenue. The conclusion of the argument relies on various assumptions for which there are no clear evidence. Hence the argument is unconvincing and deeply flawed.

First, the argument states that falling revenue of the company is coinciding with the delays in manufacturing, thereby reasoning that the because of the delay revenue is falling. This statement is a stretch and not substantial in any way. It is possible that because the revenue is falling, there could be directions from higher management to slow down the production, which the author of the report is unaware of. So the cause and effect relation gets totally altered. Also the fall in revenue could be because of various other reasons. It is possible that the competitors have come out with better product or are selling their product cheaper than this company’s product or the market is going through a recession phase which has led to drop in the sales. We can find numerous examples with the above mentioned reason that has led to drop in revenue. The argument would have been clear and convincing if the detailed reasons with supporting evidence would have been provided.

Second, the argument assumes that the delay is caused by the poor planning in purchase of the metals. This again is a very weak and unsupported claim as the argument does not demonstrate any correlation between the delay in production and poor planning. The delay in production could be because of other reasons also. For example, it is possible that there is a bottleneck in the production line that is causing the delay. Or it is also possible that the production line is not efficient enough to support the output demand. In fact the argument should provide support why it thinks that delay is caused by the poor planning in purchase of the metals.

Finally, the argument states that the manager has a very good business knowledge, psychology and sociology. If a person has that good business knowledge he would be well aware that poor planning is causing the delay, if at all. He would surely delegate that work to an expert, the scientist in this case. Moreover the manager has much more duties along with the purchase of the metals. A scientist is good in his field, but he cannot do other tasks that a manager does, and the chances of a scientist failing in managing the purchase department is even higher.

Finally the argument concludes without doing a proper analysis of the exact reasons for the drop in revenue. Without doing an in-depth analysis by just replacing the manager might just not improve the revenue generated. Without supporting evidence of what really caused the fall in revenue, one is left with the impression that it is more of a wishful thinking rather than real cause that has caused the issue on hand.

In summary the argument is flawed and therefore unconvincing. It could be considerably strengthened by providing the supporting evidence. In order to access the merits of situation it is essential to have the full knowledge of the contributing factors.
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26 Jun 2011, 15:07
Very well written!

I would easily grade this a 5.5 or a 6.

Keep practicing!
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27 Nov 2012, 05:34
The argument concludes that the purchasing manager should be moved to sales department and bring in a scientist from the research division to be a manager of the purchasing department. The conclusion is based on the premises that the revenues of company is declining due to delay in manufacturing. The delays in manufacturing, in turn, are due to poor planning. In addition the argument states that the purchasing manager lack knowledge about the properties of material. This argument is not convincing due to following reasons.

To begin with, the argument assumes that the delay in manufacturing due to poor planning in purchasing department is the only cause for decline in revenue. The argument overlooks other factors such as skilled labor workers, inventory of material, market conditions might also add up to poor planning in purchasing or deplay in manufacturing. The argument fails to establish casual connection between the falling revenue of the company and the deplay in manufacturing. Without compelling evidence to support the casual connection between the two events, the argument's recommendations are not worthy of consideration.

Secondly, the central assumption in the argument that the knowledge about the properties of material is essential for purchasing metals is unconvencing. No evidence is stated in the argument to support this critical assumption.

To conclude, this is a weak argument. To strengthen the conclusion that purchasing manager should be replaced, the author should provide casual connection between delay in manufacturing and decline in company's revenue. Additionally, the author would have to show that knowledge of the properties of metals is a prerequisite for planning in purchasing metals.
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05 Jan 2016, 00:47
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05 Mar 2016, 06:47
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The falling revenues would be a concern for just about any industry; in the presented argument, the author tries to allot reasons for the declining revenues of a particular company and tries to convince the company’s Board of Directors to take a particular course of action to address the situation at hand. While the author’s claim may well have merit, the author presents a poorly reasoned argument, and based solely on the evidence provided by the author, we cannot accept his conclusion as valid.

The primary issue with the argument is the use of an unsubstantiated premises to build the argument. The author’s assumption that the drop in the revenue is due to delays in manufacturing forms the basis of the entire argument and yet it is not supported by any concrete evidence. The author makes a weak attempt to support this assumption by pointing the coincidence of the time frames of the occurrence of the two events. The author assumes the causal relationship between the two events only on the basis of this observation without considering other possibilities. For instance, it is possible that the revenues are dropping due increased competition and has little to do with the delays in manufacturing.

Second, the author assumes that knowledge about the properties of material is the single most factor in proper planning for purchasing raw materials for the company. Based on this assumption, the author suggests that the procurement manager be replaced by a researcher. Though the knowledge about the properties of materials might be important for raw material procurement, it also requires certain amount of vendor management and relationship building with the supplier. Most managers will have more developed interpersonal skills and people management skills required for such a task than a researcher. Further, the manager may be assisted by an employee with the required technical knowledge or may be imparted training so that he can acquire such knowledge.

Third, the author does not talk about the availability of scientists or the interest of scientists in undergoing a shift in career. The scientists with the necessary knowledge might not be interested and even resist such a drastic career change. Besides, the scientists might be caught up with some important research for the company.

In sum, the author’s argument is based on unsupported premises and unsubstantiated assumptions and as a result the argument may not convince the Board of Directors. If the author truly hopes to change his readers' minds on the issue, he would have to largely restructure his argument, fix the flaws in his logic, clearly explicate his assumptions, and provide evidentiary support. Without these things, his poorly reasoned argument will likely convince few people.
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16 Mar 2017, 05:37
This report claims that in order to keep company revenues from further decline, the purchasing manager should be moved to the sales department and that a scientist from the research division should replace him. To bolster this claim, the report states the falling revenues directly coincide with delays in manufacturing, and that these delays are a result of poor planning in purchasing metal. Moreover, the report states that the current purchasing manager, though skilled in areas such as general business, psychology, and sociology, knows little about the properties of metals. Unfortunately, this argument is based on many assumptions and it would be extremely foolish for the directors to take the advice given without any further evidence. The argument in this report is weak because it assumes that falling revenues coincide with delays in manufacturing, it also assumes that the delays are largely due to poor planning in purchasing, and proposes a plan to change management roles without any evidence of how it could help.
Firstly, the argument that falling revenues directly coincide with delays in manufacturing is not substantiated in any way. The report fails to identify what the relationship is between these two variables. Without such information, the directors would not know the magnitude of the effect that manufacturing delays may have. For example, revenues can fall if prices are too low. Revenues can also fall if demand falls. Thus, there are already two other factors that could have a negative effect on revenues. Furthermore, there could be other processes in the production cycle that lead to a loss of revenues, be it high supply costs or high labor costs.
The report makes yet another assumption that the manufacturing delays are due to poor planning in purchasing metals. Once again, this argument provides no evidence as proof. There could be many reasons for delays in manufacturing. For instance, the equipment required to manufacture the raw metals into the end outputs could be malfunctioning. Or, there could be a lack of morale amongst the workers, thus reducing total productivity and outputs. However, in order to qualify this claim, the report states that the purchasing manager has little knowledge of the properties of metals, and implies that this is the reason for purchasing delays. But, the report fails to give a description of what the role of the purchasing manager is. If the manager is solely responsible for haggling and buying metals at a cheap price, then it may not be necessary that he/she have extensive knowledge of the metals.
Moreover, the report uses the purchasing manager’s lack of knowledge to make a proposal that could remove him/her from the position and replace him/her with a scientist. Once again, there is no evidence that this plan to replace the purchasing manager with a scientist will help keep revenues from falling. Instead, it raises serious questions as to what the true responsibilities of the purchasing manager are. Will a scientist that has enough background knowledge in metal properties be able to handle a position in which he/she may have haggle for prices? Will the company lose time in training the scientist for this position, adding to the existing delays in manufacturing? There is no evidence that the purchasing manager is fit for the sales department or that the scientist from the research department is fit to be the manager of the purchasing department.
Seeing as there is no sound basis for the claims made by the report, it would be extremely unwise for the directors of this company to follow through with the proposed plan to replace the purchasing manager with the scientist. If the report is able to further substantiate its claims with evidence that will weaken the aforementioned flaws, then the directors can make a more accurate, well-informed decision.
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