Previous Page An Argument 63.
The following appeared in a memorandum from the Director of Human Resources to the executive officers of Company X.
Last year, we surveyed our employees on improvements needed at Company X by having them rank, in order of importance, the issues presented in a list of possible improvements. Improved communications between employees and management was consistently ranked as the issue of highest importance by the employees who responded to the survey. As you know, we have since instituted regular communications sessions conducted by high-level management which the employees can attend on a voluntary basis. Therefore, it is likely that most employees at Company X now feels that the improvement most needed at the company has been made. Question
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 underline 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 in conclusion. Analysis
The Director of Human Resources concludes that most employees at Company X feel that the improvement most needed at the company has been satisfactorily addressed.
Two reasons are offered in support of this conclusion.
First, a survey of employees showed that the issue which respondents were most concerned about was employee-management communication. Second, the company has since instituted regular voluntary sessions for employees and management designed to improve communication.
The director's argument is questionable for two reasons.
To begin with, the validity of the survey is doubtful. Lacking information about the number of employees surveyed and the number of respondents, it is impossible to assess the validity of the results. For example, if 200 employees were surveyed but only twenty of them had responded, the conclusion that most of the employees ranked employee-management communication as the most pressing issue would be highly suspect. Because the argument offers no evidence that would rule out interpretations such as this, the survey results are insufficient to support the author's conclusion.
Furthermore, even if the survey accurately ranks certain issues according to level of employee concern, the highest-ranked issue in the survey might not be the issue about which employees are most concerned. Why? The improvement most needed from the point of view of the employees might not have appeared as one of the choices on the survey. For example, if the list of improvements presented on the survey was created by management rather than by the employees, then the issues of greatest concern to the employees might not be included on the list. Lacking information about how the survey was prepared, it is impossible to assess its reliability. Consequently, any conclusion based on it is highly questionable.
In conclusion, the director's conclusion is not well-founded. To strengthen the argument, additional information regarding the way in which the employee survey was prepared and conducted is required.