GMAT : Analysis of An Issue

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An Issue


79. The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee and it is worth more than any other commodity under the sun.


Question


Explain what you think the above statement means and discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with it. Support your position with relevant reason and / or examples from your own experience, observations or reading.


Analysis


This first part of this statement means that interpersonal or social skills can be marketed as part of a bundle of assets that one might tout to a prospective client, customer or especially employer. Presumably, the extent and value of these skills can be gauged by one's previous experience with clients and customers or at jobs requiring a significant amount of teamwork and cooperation among workers-as measured by factors such as one's tenure in such a job and letters of reference from supervisors. While this claim seems plausible in the abstract, it ignores critical valuation problems. Furthermore, the claim that the ability to deal with people exceeds the value of all other commodities is an over generalization, since relative values depend on particular circumstances. .

The first problem with this claim is that it is far more difficult to quantify the value of interpersonal skills or other human qualities than the value of commodities such as coffee or sugar which can be measured, weighed or otherwise examined prior to purchase. To a large extent, the ability to work with people is a quality whose true value can be determined only after it is purchased, then tried and tested for a period of time. Additionally, its value may vary depending on the idiosyncrasies of the job. For example, a technically oriented programmer or researcher might function well with a team of like-minded workers, yet have trouble dealing with management or marketing personnel.

The second problem with this claim is that it over generalizes in asserting that the ability to work with people is worth more than any other commodity. The relative value of this ability depends on the peculiarities of the job. In some jobs, especially sales, ambition and tenacity are more valuable. In other areas, such as research and development, technical skills and specific knowledge are paramount. Moreover, in some businesses, such as mining or oil-drilling, the value of raw materials and capital equipment might be far more important a commodity than the social skills or most other skills of employees-depending on the economic circumstances.

In sum, the ability to deal with people is purchasable only to a limited extent, since its full value can not be determined prior to purchase. Moreover, its full value depends on the organizational unit as well as the nature of the business.

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