Major changes in the education of managers have taken place during the last decade in the UK, and one has only to look at the emergence and growth of Business Schools to become aware of it. New ideas and techniques have been suggested and adopted and, like many other areas of human activity, fashion has played its part. Hence we had the periods of Value Analysis, MBO, Managerial Grid, etc, and no doubt there will be others to follow. Some ideas have gradually gained ground and this article looks at one concept that has struggled through and is still developing, namely the concept of ‘numeracy’. It is generally accepted that a good manager today should be ‘numerate’ as well as ‘literate’. But there is still a great deal of confusion about numeracy itself and what it represents. Very little has been written about the subject, and has been mainly concerned with course syllabus. (A recent review article by Thomas illustrates the point). This paper tries to look at what is meant by numeracy and develops some basic concepts that are helpful to management. They represent some ideas that the author has found useful in presenting the subject, during a number of years, to audiences of varying experience and mathematical abilities. Of necessity they are not complete at present, but will add to the debate.
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