This module builds on the first year module BE400 to develop and deepen several of the themes introduced there. The intention is to dig deeper into the concepts of management, work and organisation in order to understand something of their provenance, evolution, context of use, and relevance today, as well as the fundamental social dynamics underpinning them. This module also explores the interplay of management theory and practices of organisation. Theory (ie, what we think something is or how we think something works) and practice (ie, how we do things and what we do when we do them) are not separate endeavours but, as we shall see, theory has very practical, concrete effects on how we organize and operate and what we think we are doing when we organize and operate.
The focus is on understanding the social, historical, economic, and cultural context within which practices of organizing, and organisational theory, emerge. What we do now is always in some kind of relation with how we thought and did things in the past. Therefore, beginning to understand the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of organizing today we need to have a sense of what came before. The module considers a number broad – and overlapping – topics in the field of organisational behaviour and explores these with reference to both their historical origins and their contemporary relevance. Here the focus is on the social and cultural dynamics and power relations and that produce organisation. ‘Organisation’ here has three meanings, organisation as an entity, a thing (an organisation); organisation as an activity, a practice (organizing) and organisation as an idea (organisation theory). All these three meanings have a direct impact on how we organize and manage in our daily lives and work.
Whilst a clear description of organisational realities is important, to really understand management, work and organisation, it is necessary to move beyond description, first to analyse and then to critically evaluate. Analysis means moving beyond description to understand the social processes and dynamics that give rise to particular phenomena. Without such an understanding, practical managerial action is impossible.
All analysis requires some theory, even if it is implicit and ‘common sense’. Not all theories are equal, which is why we also need some critical evaluation. On the one hand we expect you to develop your abilities to evaluate and critique the theories and practices we are studying on the module. As a first step, this means evaluating the evidence for specific claims and understandings: what have empirical studies of organisation discovered and what evidence do they use to support their claims? A second step is also required: what are the underlying theoretical assumptions and are these consistent, both internally and externally with what else we know about organisations. A final critical move we will be working on in this module draws upon the Greek origins of the word ‘critique’, from kritos or ‘judge’. By the end of this module you should be able to articulate a judgement on specific management and organisational practices, evaluating them in terms of power relations and their effects on various stakeholders and particularly employees. This is an essential skill set for all managers, who are often in a privileged and influential positions when it comes to making changes to the way we organise.
Module Aims
• Provide an understanding of organisational behaviour as a complex and contested terrain.
• Provide an appreciation of the organisational behaviour and enable students to identify and explore its contributions.
• Develop students’ appreciation of the challenges in managing people the development of management thinking over time, the ways in which broader social change affects organisations and their management and what the future needs of organisations might be and what demands they put on those who manage them.
• Through class discussion, reading, participation and assessment develop students’ abilities to engage in critical argumentation.
Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:
The module introduces students to a historical and critical understanding of people’s behaviour in workplaces.
Students successfully completing this module should be able to:
• Demonstrate a social scientific understanding of organisational behaviour, drawing on theories, themes, concepts and practices from a range of relevant disciplines (including psychology, sociology and cultural studies) and organisational settings.
• Explain and evaluate classical and contemporary organisational theories, concepts and practices.
• Apply social scientific concepts to explain and evaluate current issues in the management and experience of work organisations.
• Reflect upon their learning about organisational behaviour in the context of their own experiences in organisations and secondary accounts of organisational behaviour.
Skills for Your Professional Life (Transferable Skills)
In addition to providing you with an education, at Essex Business School we aim to help you become highly employable. In this module we use an embedded employability approach where the module content, structure and the module assessment are designed to contribute towards your employability.
Your time and your degree at the University of Essex will enable you to develop understanding of and skills in
*Written Communication
*Oral Communication
*Research Skills
*Critical Thinking
*Digital and Technical Fluency
*Innovation and Curiosity
*Data and Analytics
*Personal Brand
As a student at the Essex Business School and of management and organisation studies, you will have the opportunity to develop your understanding of and skills in
*Commercial Awareness
In this module we will not aim to cover all these areas, but we will at least touch upon quite a few. Managers are, or should be, first and foremost skilled ab able communicators – management is by and large made of communication of various kinds with various kinds of interlocutors. Your understanding and skills in Written Communication, Oral Communication, Research Skills, Critical Thinking, Teamwork-Collaboration and Innovation and Curiosity will develop through the two assignments. The assignments produce a Learning Portfolio, and the process of producing it will take you through all of those elements. First you will review just one scholarly article to develop your writing and research skills. Then you will work together in a team, innovate and be curious as well as practice your written and oral communication skills to produce a poster. And finally, you will to unleash your critical thinking and research skills when you engage with the research essay as the last part of the Learning Portfolio. The module content (through lectures, seminars, readings and your own independent study) will help you develop your Commercial Awareness together with critical thinking. In the seminars you will be using and developing your Oral Communication and Critical Thinking skills and they will also provide a venue for Innovation and Curiosity and Teamwork-Collaboration. Designing and presenting your Poster will give you a change to develop your Personal Brand.