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2010/2011  KAN-SOL_OS22  Management of Meaning

English Title
Management of Meaning

Course Information

Language English
Point 15 ECTS (450 SAT)
Type Mandatory
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Course Period Spring
Time Table Please see course schedule at e-Campus
Study Board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course Coordinator
Ann Westenholz
Main Category of the Course
  • Organization
Last updated on 29 maj 2012
Marking Scale 7-step scale
Exam Period Spring Term
Individual oral exam based on a group mini 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.1. The deadline for submitting the project will be in April 2011. The oral exam will take place in May 2011. The make-up/ re-exam takes place in June 2011. If a student is ill during the oral exam, he/she will be able to re-use the mini-project at the make-up exam. If the student was ill during the writing of the mini-project and did not contribute to the mini-project, the make-up/re-exam mini-project can be written individually or in groups (provided that 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 is oral based on a mini-project. The learning objectives of the exam should rely on empirical data prepared in groups of 4-5 persons.
The re-exam 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
The aim of this course is to develop students’ competencies to analyze ’real life’ management issues; the ability to see management as a relational phenomenon (not only as an individual or situational phenomenon); the ability to see the stories of everyday life as important ingredients in the management phenomenon. Finally, the course aims to help students acquire knowledge about (tools) for analyzing the stories of everyday life.

The course understands ’Management’ as a relational phenomenon emerging from social practice through processes whereby certain actors are ascribed the right to define reality. Management is often associated with the concept of hierarchy ascribing management to a number of people or groups to whom it is left to define reality. But management can also be viewed as collective, that is, as social practices that embed the expectation that everybody involved participates in the production of a shared reality. A third form of management can be described as self-management, which means that the individual is ascribed the responsibility for managing his or her own actions and is expected to coordinate such actions with those of others (adaptation management). In practice, there is often disagreement about who holds the right to define reality. Management becomes ambiguous when different actors attempt to realize different realities. In such cases the organization can be characterized as loosely coupled.

The course takes as its point of departure the observation that the distinction between managers and managed are currently under negotiation. New management forms are emerging that involve employees in management at different levels of the company. This means that new relations and interactions between managers and employees across hierarchies are emerging. Among other things, the course analyzes managerial strategy making as a staged activity and looks at how managers are constructed as ‘strategic actors’ whereas employees are turned into ‘organizational citizens’. Additionally the development of ‘self-management’ is analyzed and focus directed toward what is happening to management processes when work becomes temporary and distributed, thereby rendering managerial and organizational boundaries to ambiguous. The analytical stance of the course is a social constructivist understanding of management. It introduces notions such as sense-making, staging, and dramatic narratives as theoretical and methodological concepts for understanding management processes.

The course also introduces students to core elements of qualitative analysis: research objectives, research design, data collection, data analysis and reporting. The course covers a variety of techniques and helps students make choices about which techniques to use in different situations. Students are guided through the process of conducting qualitative research step by step and get to experiment with application in class.

Theoretical background: Introduction to Management of meaning; Enactment and Impression Management; The Construction of Managers of Meaning
Management of meaning as Identity Work; in Loosely Coupled Systems; and in Organizational Fields.
Analysis: Sensemaking and Storytelling in Organizations; Interaction and Story Performances in Organizations.

Methodology: Narrative metods; Narrative interviews; and Engaged Scholarship
Mini-projects worked out in groups of 4-5 persons
1-1½ pages about the mini-project
Supervision of groups doing mini-projects
3 pages about the mini-project
Submission of mini-project

Overlapping with Organizations and Society, and De- and Reconstructing Leadership
Management of Meaning has a natural overlap with the other two subjects in the sense that they are both explicitly dealing with management issues. The specific focus in the subject is the relationship between members in and across organization and the social constructivist sense making perspective used in the analyses as well as the requirement of combining theory and empirical data.

Teaching Methods
The course combines lectures, dialog, student presentations, supervision of mini-projects based on empirical data as well as workshops where the projects are discussed. In the early phase of the course the students will be invited to choose subject and the empirical field of the mini-project. Mini-projects will be conducted by groups of 4-5 students.

Smircich, L. & G. Morgan (1982) Leadership: The Management of Meaning. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 18:3:257-273
Smircich, L & Stubbart, C. (1985) Strategic Management in an Enacted World. Academy of management Review, 10:4:724-736
Westenholz, A. (2006) Beyond Actor/Structure and Micro/Macro Distinctions in an Emperical Analysis of IT Workers. American Behavioral Scientist, 49:7:1015-1029
Meindl, J. R (1993) Reinventing Leadership: A Radical, Social Psychological Approach. In: Murnighan (ed.) Social Psychology in Organizations, Prentice Hall
Orton, J. D. & K. E. Weick (1990) Loosely Coupled Systems: A reconceptualization. Academy of Management Review, 15:2:203-223
Søderberg, A-M (2006) Narrative Interviewing and Narrative Analyses in a study of a Cross-border Merger. Management International Review, 46:4:397-416