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GRE Argument Essay: The Following Appeared As Part Of An Article In A Business Magazine - With A Free Essay Review
Prompt: The following appeared as part of an article in a business magazine. "A recent study rating 300 male and female Mentian advertising executives according to the average number of hours they sleep per night showed an association between the amount of sleep the executives need and the success of their firms. Of the advertising firms studied, those whose executives reported needing no more than 6 hours of sleep per night had higher profit margins and faster growth. These results suggest that if a business wants to prosper, it should hire only people who need less than 6 hours of sleep per night." Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.
The author of this article states that the company would prosper only when its executive have little sleep and suggests that companies should hire people requiring six hours of sleep or less. The author has concluded from studies that the firms in which executives have no more than 6 hours of sleep had higher profit margins and faster growth. There may be plenty of other reasons why these companies have faster growth and higher profit margins. Even before hiring such executives who sleep for 6 hours or less at nights, these firms might have been a fast growing state and have had good reputation. Besides, executives being awake for a long time is nowhere related to a firm's success. Being awake late in the night or waking up early in the morning does not mean that they work for the firm late night and in the morning. These executives may be watching a movie or playing games and hence the unstated assumption that a firm's executives who do not sleep for more than 6 hours work for the firm's success is not true.
The author has not mentioned the number of advertising firms studied and how many among them are successful and growing fast as mentioned in the article. Also by knowing the number of executives in these firms who sleep for 6 hours less in each of these firms, we would know if the firms that are growing faster have many executives who has little sleep and the other firms have only very less executives who sleep for 6 hours or less. If the previous statement is not true, then the assumption that a firm grows only when its executives sleep for only 6 hours or less will be proved unwarranted and hence the conclusion that a company has to hire only people who have less sleep becomes incorrect.
There is no assumption in the statement that “executives who do not sleep for more than 6 hours work for the firm’s success.” The statement makes no claim, implicit or otherwise, about what the executives do with their extra waking hours. Note that it is also not entirely relevant to the task posed by the prompt to entertain other possible explanations of the success of companies with executives who sleep less than six hours per night, and there is no need to offer an opinion on the possibility of a connection between “executives being awake for a long time” and “a firm’s success.” All you need to do, and all you should do (because it is all that you will get credit for), is identify the assumptions, and explain “how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.”
Note that you are also not explicitly following the instructions in the second paragraph. You are not being asked to demonstrate why a particular assumption might be untrue (although you might get some credit for doing so since the instructions say that you should “examine” the assumptions, and you might be free to determine the meaning of “examine” here fairly broadly). In any case, the assumption you identify is the second paragraph is not really an assumption but the argument itself. Well, I suppose it is possible to claim that the original argument assumes that only businesses in the study with “higher profit margins and faster growth” than other businesses in the study can be considered businesses that “prosper.” That’s an assumption because the final argument is that prosperity depends on having the same kind of employees that the most successful companies in the study have. But of course a company can prosper without being the most successful. The argument also assumes that if it is true that there is an association between the amount of sleep the executives need and the success of their firms, then there is an association between the amount of sleep “people [who are not necessarily executives]” need and the success of the businesses that hire them. Finally, it also assumes that the sleeping habits of the executives in the successful companies is a cause of the success of the companies rather than a consequence of that success (perhaps the executives in the less successful companies need to work harder and so need more sleep to recover!).
In any case, again, it is crucial to follow the instructions.