Resource-Allocator: Definition & Explanation

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  • 0:00 What Is a Resource Allocator?
  • 0:56 Examples
  • 4:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Wiley-Cordone
Learn about the resource allocator managerial role and explore examples of how managers work in this role in everyday situations. Then, test your understanding with a short quiz.

What Is a Resource Allocator?

Have you ever had to decide if you were going to pay off the entire credit card bill or send just the minimum payment? Everyone who's been responsible for their own finances has experienced the need to decide exactly where their money is going. In a professional setting, managers are also required to determine where to assign funds and other resources; this is known as the resource allocator managerial role. It was developed by Professor Henry Mintzberg, a respected management consultant, based on his years of observational research on upper- and mid-level managers.

Mintzberg described nine other managerial roles in addition to resource allocator. He grouped the roles into three general categories: decisional roles (gathering information and carrying out decisions), informational roles (processing and communicating information), and interpersonal roles (work-related interactions between the manager and other people).


In a professional setting, a resource allocator distributes funding, of course, but also determines such things as: space needs, how many people are needed and where their skills should be applied, how long a project will take, how much time each worker will spend on the project, and how many and what kind of supplies or equipment are needed.

How might resource allocation work in a given day? Let's explore examples from the XYZ Media Empire, where Evan (circled in blue in the image) is responsible for the Casual Gaming division (see video). He has three people reporting directly to him (programmers Elaine and John and office manager Mary) as well as two more reporting indirectly through the office manager (Louise, the receptionist, and Dan, the intern).

Example One

Last month, Elaine and John met with Evan and asked for a junior developer to help complete projects more quickly. Evan considered their request and spent time reviewing upcoming projects and assessing the programmers' recent overtime. He decided that the additional hire was necessary, paraphrased Elaine and John's justification, and forwarded his findings to his boss at headquarters, who approved the funds. Evan conducts several interviews and has just come to agreement on salary and benefits with Olivia. She has asked for a higher salary than he had intended to spend, but since she has more experience than other candidates and seems like a good fit for the office culture, he decides to take the additional money from another line-item for this year. He expects that the team will be more productive with her contribution and will be able to bring in enough funds to cover her salary in future years.

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