Pandas don't have thumbs. At least, they don't have real thumbs. Instead, they have funny little extensions of their wrist bones that they use to strip the shoots off bamboo branches. They look like thumbs, and they work like thumbs-at least they work well enough that not many pandas starve. But technically only primates have real thumbs, with bones and muscles opposed to the fingers. Evolutionary theorist Steven Jay Gould draws a number of lessons from the panda's "thumb." The one relevant here is that evolution is not infinitely malleable. Evolutionary processes work by modifying existing structures until they become capable of performing new functions. Hence, the panda's "thumb"-an elongated wrist bone that can do some, but not all, of the things a real thumb can do. I hope to convince you that the procedural techniques grouped together under the rubric "managerial judging" have a lot in common with the panda's "thumb."
Date of Authorship for this Version
Elliott, E. Donald, "Managerial Judging and the Evolution of Procedure" (1986). Faculty Scholarship Series. 5074.