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Sample Response to GMAT AWA Argument Questions

4. 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 . . . Etc.

The author argued that the company should replace the current manager with a scientist from the research division as the manager of the purchasing department as a result of falling revenues. The argument is based on the two facts: 1) The company revenues fall at the same as do delays in manufacturing; and 2) The current manager who is responsible for purchasing of raw materials knows little about the properties of metals. The line of reasoning is not sound and, therefore the conclusion is not compelling.

Firstly, the argument failed to address the casual relationship between falling revenues and delays in manufacturing. The fact that the falling revenues that the company is experiencing coincide with delays in manufacturing does not mean one causes another. It may be other reasons that cause the company to experience the falling revenues. For example, the quality of products does not satisfy its customers, and as a result, many previous clients are turning to its competitors.

Furthermore, it is not reasonable to conclude that a scientist can save the poor planning in purchasing metals. If the scientist is skilled in the properties of metals but poor at planning, the delays in manufacturing may be worse. The purchasing manager must know where he could find those kinds of metals, what prices they are, and when they can be transported to his company. In fact, a department manager in business background is really acceptable. Because when he bumps against a technical problem, he can easily seek advice from the engineer team in manufacturing department.

In conclusion, the delays in manufacturing were not necessarily caused by the purchasing manager's poor knowledge about the properties of metals. Maybe the company must replace the purchasing manager; however, a scientist may also not be competent for this job. It must find someone who really knows how to plan and how to buy qualified metals in time.

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