Which type of RC passage is your favorite – social science, business, hard science? Just kidding! I know that most people don’t have a favorite type (though most of us have a least favorite type).
Let’s try one out. Because of space constraints, I’m not going to give you the full passage, but I promise I’ll give you everything you need to know in order to answer the question. This problem is from the free set of questions that comes with GMATPrep. Give yourself up to 1.5 minutes to read the passage excerpt and approximately another 1.5 minutes to answer the question.
* ” The modern multinational corporation is described as having originated when the owner-managers of nineteenth-century British firms carrying on international trade were replaced by teams of salaried managers organized into hierarchies. Increases in the volume of transactions in such firms are commonly believed to have necessitated this structural change. Nineteenth-century inventions like the steamship and the telegraph, by facilitating coordination of managerial activities, are described as key factors. Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century chartered trading companies, despite the international scope of their activities, are usually considered irrelevant to this discussion: the volume of their transactions is assumed to have been too low and the communications and transport of their day too primitive to make comparisons with modern multinationals interesting.
“In reality, however, early trading companies successfully purchased and outfitted ships, built and operated offices and warehouses, manufactured trade goods for use abroad, maintained trading posts and production facilities overseas, procured goods for import, and sold those goods both at home and in other countries. The large volume of transactions associated with these activities seems to have necessitated hierarchical management structures well before the advent of modern communications and transportation. For example…” (I’m going to stop you here! There are two more long sentences in this paragraph plus a third paragraph.)
Here’s the question:
“The author lists the various activities of early chartered trading companies in order to
“(A) analyze the various ways in which these activities contributed to changes in management structure in such companies
“(B) demonstrate that the volume of business transactions of such companies exceeded that of earlier firms
“(C) refute the view that the volume of business undertaken by such companies was relatively low
“(D) emphasize the international scope of these companies’ operations
“(E) support the argument that such firms coordinated such activities by using available means of communication and transport“
Got your answer? Debating between two answers? Pick! The clock is ticking… J
Let’s start with the passage. What did you get out of it? Here are my notes (as far as we read):
P1: MMC: 19c Brit int’l hierarch b/c of >> vol
16-17c: low vol, prim
P2: BUT 16-17 Cos did lots of stuff, >> vol
Note: at this point, while reading the second sentence of paragraph 2, I realized that the first paragraph was some “other people theory” – that this hierarchy and MMC thing started in the 19th century – but the author is disagreeing in the second paragraph. So now I have the author’s overall point and I’m going to add a couple of things to my already-written notes, like this:
P1: HYP: MMC: 19c Brit int’l hierarch b/c of >> vol
As: 16-17c: low vol, prim
P2: BUT 16-17 Cos did lots of stuff, >> vol, had hierarch already?
HYP means hypothesis, and As: means “assumption coming!” Note that I’m not using the word assumption in the same way I would on a critical reasoning problem. In critical reasoning, assumptions are unstated. Here, this assumption actually was stated – the author is pointing out what “some people” assume to be true (but the author disagrees!).
Okay, on to our question. The question stem mentions a particular group: “early chartered trading companies.” Oh no! I didn’t write that down. What should I do?