IELTS Academic Reading Practice 56

 
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This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 15-27.

Questions 15-21

The reading passage has seven paragraphs labelled A-G.

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter A-G in boxes 15-21 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

15 The reasons why businesses began to export their goods rather than rely on their home market
16 Natural phenomena used as a metaphor to describe economic conditions
17 An outline which gives the opinions of experts
18 An illustration charting the change in focus brought about by a more competitive market
19 An explanation of how market forces came to define the manufacturing process
20 The difficulties of predicting just where the market will go
21 A summary describing how controlling manufacturing operations leads to greater output
Questions 22-25

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 22-25 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE   if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE   if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN   if there is no information on this

22. Technical innovation has meant that more people have become wealth.
23. After a time there was an insufficient supply of goods to cope with demand and so imports increased.
24. Many established companies moved their production facilities abroad.
25. Academics forecast that there will be a smaller percentage of people working in offices than there are today.
Questions 26-27

Look at the following Characteristics (Questions 26-27) and List of periods below.

Match each characteristic with the correct period, A, B or C.

Write the correct number A-D in boxes Questions 26-27 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

List of periods
  1. The agricultural age.
  2. The industrial age.
  3. The neo-industrial age.
  4. The post-industrial age.

26. an excess of products in supply.
27. a lack of variety in products available

Answer Sheet
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
N/A
15
N/A
16
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17
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18
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19
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20
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21
N/A
22
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23
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24
N/A
25
N/A
26
N/A
27
N/A
28
N/A
29
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30
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31
N/A
32
N/A
33
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34
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35
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36
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37
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38
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39
N/A
40
N/A


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The Development of Organizations

A The forces that operate to bring about change in organizations can be thought of as winds which are many and varied - from small summer breezes that merely disturb a few papers, to mighty howling gales which cause devastation to structures and operations, causing consequent reorientation of purpose and rebuilding. Sometimes, however, the winds die down to give periods of relative calm, periods of relative organizational stability. Such a period was the agricultural age, which Goodman (1995) maintains prevailed in Europe and western societies as a whole until the early 1700s. During this period, wealth was created in the context of an agriculturally based society influenced mainly by local markets (both customer and labor) and factors outside people’s control, such as the weather. During this time, people could fairly well predict the cycle of activities required to maintain life, even if that life might be little more than subsistence level.

B To continue with the meteorological metaphor, stronger winds of change blew to bring in the Industrial Revolution and the industrial age. Again, according to Goodman, this lasted for a long time, until around 1945. It was characterized by a series of inventions and innovations that reduced the number of people needed to work the land and, in turn, provided the means of production of goods that were previously difficult to obtain; for organizations, supplying these goods in ever-increasing numbers became the aim. To a large extent, demand and supply were predictable, enabling companies to structure their organizations along what Burns and Stalker (1966) described as mechanistic lines, that is as systems of strict hierarchical structures and firm means of control.

C This situation carried on for some time, with demand still coming mainly from the domestic market and organizations striving to fill the “supply gap.” Thus, the environmental influence with the greatest impact on organizations of this time was the demand for products, which outstripped supply. The saying attributed to Henry Ford that “You can have any color of the car so long as it is black,” gives a sense of the supply-led state of the market. Apart from any technical difficulties in producing different colors of the car, Ford did not have to worry about customers’ color preferences: he could sell all that he made. Organisations of this period can be regarded as “task-oriented,” with the effort being put into increasing production through more effective and efficient production processes.

D As time passed, this favorable period for organizations began to decline. In the neo-industrial age, people became more discriminating in the goods and services they wished to buy and, as technological advancements brought about increased productivity, supply overtook demand. Companies began, increasingly, to look abroad for additional markets.

E  At the same time, organizations faced more intense competition from abroad for their own products and services. In the West, this development was accompanied by a shift in focus from manufacturing to service, whether this merely added value to manufactured products, or whether it was served in its own right. In the neo-industrial age of western countries, the emphasis moved towards adding value to goods and services - what Goodman calls the value-oriented time, as contrasted with the task-oriented and products/services-oriented times of the past.

Today, in the post-industrial age, most people agree that organizational life is becoming ever more uncertain, as the pace of change quickens and the future becomes less predictable. Two US academics, Nadler and Tushman wrote in 1999, “Poised on the eve of the next century, we are witnessing a profound transformation in the very nature of our business organizations. Historic forces have converged to fundamentally reshape the scope, strategies, and structures of large enterprises.” At a less general level of analysis, Graeme Leach, Chief Economist at the British Institute of Directors, claimed in the Guardian newspaper (2000) that, “By 2020, the nine-to-five rat race will be extinct and present levels of self-employment, commuting and technology use, as well as age and sex gaps, will have changed beyond recognition.” According to the article, Leach anticipates that: “In 20 years time, 20-25 percent of the workforce will be temporary workers and many more will be flexible...25 percent of people will no longer work in a traditional office and...50 percent will work from home in some form.” Continuing to use the “winds of change” metaphor, the expectations of damaging gale-force winds bringing the need for rebuilding that takes the opportunity to incorporate new ideas and ways of doing things.

Whether all this will happen is arguable. Forecasting the future is always fraught with difficulties. For instance, Mannermann (1998) sees future studies as part art and part science and notes, “The future is full of surprises, uncertainty, trends, and trend breaks, irrationality and rationality, and it is changing and escaping from our hands as time goes by. It is also the result of actions made by innumerable more or less powerful forces.” What seems certain is that the organizational world is changing at a fast rate - even if the direction of change is not always predictable. Consequently, it is crucial that organizational managers and decision makers are aware of and able to analyze the factors which trigger organizational change.

Reading Passage Vocabulary
The Development of Organizations

A The forces that operate to bring about change in organizations can be thought of as winds which are many and varied - from small summer breezes that merely disturb a few papers, to mighty howling gales which cause devastation to structures and operations, causing consequent reorientation of purpose and rebuilding. Sometimes, however, the winds die down to give periods of relative calm, periods of relative organizational stability. Such a period was the agricultural age, which Goodman (1995) maintains prevailed in Europe and western societies as a whole until the early 1700s. During this period, wealth was created in the context of an agriculturally based society influenced mainly by local markets (both customer and labor) and factors outside people’s control, such as the weather. During this time, people could fairly well predict the cycle of activities required to maintain life, even if that life might be little more than subsistence level.

B To continue with the meteorological metaphor, stronger winds of change blew to bring in the Industrial Revolution and the industrial age. Again, according to Goodman, this lasted for a long time, until around 1945. It was characterized by a series of inventions and innovations that reduced the number of people needed to work the land and, in turn, provided the means of production of goods that were previously difficult to obtain; for organizations, supplying these goods in ever-increasing numbers became the aim. To a large extent, demand and supply were predictable, enabling companies to structure their organizations along what Burns and Stalker (1966) described as mechanistic lines, that is as systems of strict hierarchical structures and firm means of control.

C This situation carried on for some time, with demand still coming mainly from the domestic market and organizations striving to fill the “supply gap.” Thus, the environmental influence with the greatest impact on organizations of this time was the demand for products, which outstripped supply. The saying attributed to Henry Ford that “You can have any color of the car so long as it is black,” gives a sense of the supply-led state of the market. Apart from any technical difficulties in producing different colors of the car, Ford did not have to worry about customers’ color preferences: he could sell all that he made. Organisations of this period can be regarded as “task-oriented,” with the effort being put into increasing production through more effective and efficient production processes.

D As time passed, this favorable period for organizations began to decline. In the neo-industrial age, people became more discriminating in the goods and services they wished to buy and, as technological advancements brought about increased productivity, supply overtook demand. Companies began, increasingly, to look abroad for additional markets.

E  At the same time, organizations faced more intense competition from abroad for their own products and services. In the West, this development was accompanied by a shift in focus from manufacturing to service, whether this merely added value to manufactured products, or whether it was served in its own right. In the neo-industrial age of western countries, the emphasis moved towards adding value to goods and services - what Goodman calls the value-oriented time, as contrasted with the task-oriented and products/services-oriented times of the past.

Today, in the post-industrial age, most people agree that organizational life is becoming ever more uncertain, as the pace of change quickens and the future becomes less predictable. Two US academics, Nadler and Tushman wrote in 1999, “Poised on the eve of the next century, we are witnessing a profound transformation in the very nature of our business organizations. Historic forces have converged to fundamentally reshape the scope, strategies, and structures of large enterprises.” At a less general level of analysis, Graeme Leach, Chief Economist at the British Institute of Directors, claimed in the Guardian newspaper (2000) that, “By 2020, the nine-to-five rat race will be extinct and present levels of self-employment, commuting and technology use, as well as age and sex gaps, will have changed beyond recognition.” According to the article, Leach anticipates that: “In 20 years time, 20-25 percent of the workforce will be temporary workers and many more will be flexible...25 percent of people will no longer work in a traditional office and...50 percent will work from home in some form.” Continuing to use the “winds of change” metaphor, the expectations of damaging gale-force winds bringing the need for rebuilding that takes the opportunity to incorporate new ideas and ways of doing things.

Whether all this will happen is arguable. Forecasting the future is always fraught with difficulties. For instance, Mannermann (1998) sees future studies as part art and part science and notes, “The future is full of surprises, uncertainty, trends, and trend breaks, irrationality and rationality, and it is changing and escaping from our hands as time goes by. It is also the result of actions made by innumerable more or less powerful forces.” What seems certain is that the organizational world is changing at a fast rate - even if the direction of change is not always predictable. Consequently, it is crucial that organizational managers and decision makers are aware of and able to analyze the factors which trigger organizational change.

 
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