Management Information Systems Essay

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The field of management  information  systems (MIS) is concerned  with a special class of information  systems, used to evaluate other  information  systems in use in the operations of an organization, and to automate, support, and supplement human decision making processes involved in those operations. Like other information  systems, the 21st century’s management information  systems are dependent on and an outgrowth of the rapid sophistication  of computer  technology at the end of the 20th century and the availability of cheap computing  power and an enormous software industry prepared to produce specialized software for business operations.

Management   information   systems  is not  simply the  study  and  implementation of the  software  and other information  technology that can be used in the workplace,  or  of management   techniques  in  operating a business. It is not  even the  combination  or intersection  of the two. MIS examines the relationship between the two, and the emergent phenomena associated  with  that  relationship.   While  accounting information  systems, essentially a subset of MIS, focuses on the financial and record-keeping  aspects of the business’s operations, MIS looks largely at what organizational theory calls “internal control.”

Internal  control  is the  way in which a business’s resources  are  allocated  and  recorded,  and  is thus implicated  in the business’s security—its protection from fraud, infringement, negligence, theft, and mismanagement.  The concerns  of internal  control  are efficiency, reliability, clarity of reports  and  records, and  compliance  with  standards   and  objectives.  It prizes consistency, deriving both fairness and efficiency from the practice of handling any given situation in the same way every time, whether it is a crisis or an everyday business transaction.

In  the  interest  of preventing  fraudulent  financial reporting,  the  Committee   of Sponsoring  Organizations of the Treadway Commission  (COSO), founded by the United States’s major accounting  associations, encourages the use of its Internal  Control–Integrated Framework.  Under  this  framework,  internal  control is discussed in terms of five components: the control environment, the foundation  for internal control; risk assessment,  the  discovery  and  analysis of the  risks involved in the attempt  to achieve the organization’s objectives; information  and communication, the systems involved in information  processing; control activities, the processes designed to carry out management’s directives; and monitoring,  the self-evaluation of the system. Clear objectives and budgets must be set before any of this framework can be in place; a surprising amount  of poor management comes simply from the lack of explicit objectives, without  which neither success nor progress toward it can be recognized.

MIS often involves decision support systems (DSS), a class of information  systems that augment decision-making processes with software by making the relevant data easy to access both in raw form and organized in various categories and databases. Purchasing decisions are informed by inventory and sales data, for instance, while decisions about an employee’s contract are easier to make when his contributions are easy to identify and collate, instead of relying on general impressions that can be affected more by personal relationships and chemistry than objective business sense. Decision support systems can be communication-driven, facilitating the decision-making  processes involving multiple people; data-driven, as in the purchasing example; document-driven, when the relevant data is “unstructured” (in the form of customer letters, for instance, as opposed  to manipulable  numbers  in a spreadsheet); knowledge-driven, when procedures  or problem solving are involved; or model-driven,  when the current situation can be compared to others.

Executive information   systems  are  a subtype  of decision support systems and are specifically designed for  executive-level  decision   making  affecting  the whole of the  company,  and  focused  on  the  overall goals of the company more than the day-to-day transactional operations.  The needs of these systems vary by the company’s industry, but will include significant data about  and evaluations  of the other  parties  the company works with—buyers, vendors, contractors, regulatory agencies, and so on—and relevant industry-wide information.

Expert   systems,  instead   of  supplementing   the human decision process, attempt to reproduce human expertise in a specific domain. Far more than simple databases of facts, these systems are based on the discipline  of knowledge  engineering,  which integrates and  formalizes  knowledge  into  computer   systems using sophisticated  mathematical  knowledge  and  a thorough  understanding of cognitive science.


  1. Marion Ball, Charlotte Weaver, and Joan M. Kiel, Healthcare Information  Management Systems: Cases, Strategies, and  Solutions  (Springer,  1990);
  2. Jane P. Laudon and Kenneth C. Laudon, Management Information Systems: Managing the Digital Firm (Prentice Hall, 2007);
  3. George Marakas, Decision Support Systems in the 21st Century (Prentice Hall, 1999);
  4. James O’Brien and George Marakas, Management Information Systems (McGraw-Hill, 2008);
  5. Effy Oz, Management Information Systems (Course Technology, 2008);
  6. J. Power, Decision Support Systems: Concepts and Resources for Managers (Quorum Books, 2002).

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