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2010/2011  KAN-SOL_OS43  Organizational Design

English Title
Organizational Design

Course Information

Language English
Point 7,5 ECTS (225 SAT)
Type Mandatory
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Course Period Autumn
Time Table Please see course schedule at e-Campus
Study Board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course Coordinator
Tor Hernes
Main Category of the Course
  • Organization
Last updated on 29 maj 2012
Marking Scale 7-step scale
Exam Period December/January
Individual oral exam based on a group project (4-5 students, max. 15 A4 pages), cf. the General Degree Regulation § 27 S. (4). The duration of the individual oral exam is 20 minutes (including assessment). The assessment is a total evaluation of the project and the individual oral exam. The exam is external and will be graded by a teacher and an external examiner, cf. the General Degree Regulation §25 S. (1) no.2. Submission of the project to the secretariat is regarded as examination registration and must take place in December 2010. The regular exam will take place in January 2011. The make-up/re-exam takes place in March 2011. If a student is ill during the oral exam, he/she will be able to re-use the project at the make-up exam. If the student was ill during the writing of the project and did not contribute to the project, the make-up/re-exam project can be written individually or in groups (provided the other students are taking the make-up/re-exam). If the student did not pass the regular exam a new or revised project, confer advice from the examiner at the regular exam, must be handed in to a new deadline specified by the line secretariat. The re-exam is an individual oral exam based upon the same group report as for the ordinary exam, with a 3-page supplement
The exam will be an oral exam based on a project – preferably related to the concrete analytical projects performed during the course.
Examination takes place in conjunction with the course in Accounting and Performance Measurement and is based on a project (written reports with oral examination).

The reexam is an individual oral exam based upon the same group report as for the regular exam, with a 3-page supplement.
Prerequisites for Attending the Exam
Course Content

Aim of the course and Contents
In this course, Organizational design is understood broadly as the attempt made by organizations to stabilize their internal and external relations or to transform them. Different theories offer different answers to the question of which actors actually shape organizations. These range from traditional approaches, based on assumptions of managerial rationality and relying on rather understandings of organizational structure. In contrast to such theories, the course views organizational design as an ongoing process of applying various means in order create organizational commitment, which involves multiple actors from all organizational levels. Traditional approaches to organizational change have likewise focused almost exclusively on human actors as the central organizational change agents. In contrast to this view, the course introduces theories, which view organization as networks consisting of human actors and a heterogeneous set of non-human actors. Central to this perspective is that while people shape the technologies used in organizations – and thereby design specific organizations, it is also the case that people, groups and organizations are shaped by their technologies. What emerges is therefore a perspective on organizational design as an ongoing and partly uncontrollable process, in which organizational actors and technologies are adapted to and changed by each other.

From this point of view the attempt to design organizations involves the effort to associate and align such diverse actors in reliable patterns of action. Such a view has met with increasing interest over the last decade not least as a result of the increasing technological sophistication and geographical dispersion of organizations. One prominent solution in recent years has been to use new information technologies as tools with which to do knowledge management or facilitate knowledge sharing in and across distributed organizations. The course makes use of knowledge management literature as illustrative of new organizational challenges, and it considers what it takes to make the mixed set of resources such as technologies, people, and their knowledge resourceful for one another in accomplishing organizational design.

Overlap with Accounting and Performance Measurement
Both OD and APM focus on the role of a variety of technologies in maintaining and transforming organizations. APM concentrates specifically on the multiple roles played by technologies in relation to accounting procedures and performance measurement. This instantiates and illustrates the general situation elucidated in OD, in which human actors and technologies together shape organizational designs and outcomes The OD and APM courses are integrated in shared workshops, which focus on the role of accounting and performance technologies in stabilizing or transforming organizational designs.


Weick, Karl (2000) Making sense of the organization. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing (Selected chapters - also used in the Business Strategy course)
Hernes, Tor Chapters 6 and 7 in Hernes, Tor (2008). Understanding organization as process: Theory for a tangled world. (handout)
Lanzara, G.F. (1983): Ephemeral organizations in extreme environments: Emergence, strategy, extinction. Journal of Management Studies, 20(1): 70–95.
Schein, Edgar (1983) The Role of the Founder in Creating Organizational Culture. Organizational Dynamics, Summer, 12:13-28.
March, James G. (1991) Exploration and exploitation in organizational learning. Organization Science 2(1):71-87. "http://kortlink.dk/5wcc"http://kortlink.dk/5wcc
Trist, Eric, and Ken Bamforth (1951) Some Social and Psychological Consequences of the Longwall Method of Coal Getting. Human Relations 4:3