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2010/2011  KAN-SOL_OS46  Organizations and Society

English Title
Organizations and Society

Course Information

Language English
Point 7,5 ECTS (225 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
Tor Hernes
Main Category of the Course
  • Organization
Last updated on 29 maj 2012
Marking Scale 7-step scale
Exam Period Spring Term
Individual project (essay paper) (max. 10 A4 pages). The exam is internal and the project will be graded by a teacher and an internal examiner, cf. the General Degree regulation § 25 S. (1) no.2. The deadline for submitting the project will be in June 2011. The make-up/re-exam takes place in August 2011. The deadline for handing in a new project will be announced by the secretariat. The theme of the re-exam will be different from the theme of the ordinary exam
Individual written exam.
Write a 10 page essay analyzing how a perspective on organization and society applies to a specific organization, an organizational field, or to a sector/industry.

Choose a perspective from the course.
Discuss its foundations and main principles
Position the perspective in relation to other perspectives dealt with in the course by identifying key differences between them
Discuss the adaptation of structures, management cultures or strategies of particular organizations or within an organizational field that appear relevant in the light of the chosen perspective.

The theme of the re-exam will be different from the theme of the ordinary exam.
Prerequisites for Attending the Exam
Course Content

Aim of the course
This course focuses on organizations as actors in a broader society. It examines processes by which organizational forms and strategies are influenced by institutions, represented by regulations, standards, norms and beliefs. The course emphasizes both public and private sector organizations. A main tenet of the course is that organizational environments consist of institutions which impose regulative, normative and cognitive on the structures, technologies and management ideals that organizations pursue.

Upon completing the course the student should be able to:
explain the meaning and influence of institutional environments on organizations
analyse the foundations of the different perspectives in the course
draw clear distinctions between the perspectives
relate perspectives to individual organizations, organizational fields, or sectors/industries
identify dilemmas posed by institutional environments to managerial decision making

Part 1 includes an introductory lecture in which different types of institutional environments are discussed. The introductory lecture is followed by two lectures that introduce the neo-institutional perspective on strategy, organizing and management. Drawing primarily on the classical and seminal work of Meyer and Rowan (1977) and DiMaggio and Powell (1983), discussion focuses on concepts of e.g. institutionalization, isomorphism, decoupling, organizational fields and rationalized myths. The theoretical discussion is related and compared to alternative perspectives and it is applied to a discussion of different contemporary management phenomena, such as for example the implementation of HR, lean management or CSR.

Part 2 includes two lectures that focus on «New public management and bureaucracy» is a theme that focuses on the change in organizational form, and how they take place in the private as well as in the public sector. It includes a review of criticism of bureaucracy, followed by a lecture on New Public Management, its underlying principles and its spread in contemporary society. The case of the introduction of NPM in Denmark is analyzed.

Part 3 contains two subthemes. One is BusinessEthics in which the expectations of ethical behaviour are discussed, and the challenges they pose to management in organizations. Strategies employed by managers to cope with expectations of ethical behaviour are developed and discussed. Another subtheme is «Organization and environment», which discusses the strategic and technological adaptation among companies to the institutional pressures of environmental standards.

Teaching Methods
The course combines lectures with case-method teaching.

Scott , W.R. (1992) “Conceptions of Environments” in “Organizations, Rational, Natural, and Open Systems”. Prentice-Hal, Inc. cpt. 6, 125-149 (Compendium)
Meyer, J.W. and Rowan, B. (1977), “Institutionalised organizations: formal structures as myth and ceremony”, American Journal of Sociology, 83, pp. 340-363.

Abrahamson, E., (1996), “Management Fashion”, Academy of Management Review, 21, pp. 254-285.

DiMaggio, P. and Powell, W. W. (1983), “The iron cage revisited: institutional isomorphism and collective rationality”, American Journal of Sociology, 48, pp. 147-160.

Granlund, M. and Lukka, K. (1998), “It’s a small world of management accounting practices”, Journal of Management Accounting Research, 10, p. 133-152.

Clark, T. (2004), “The fashion of management fashion: a surge too far”, Organization, 11, 297-306.

Hood, C. (1991) “A Public Management for all Reasons”, Public Administration, Vol. 69, 3-19 (Compendium)
Hood, C. (2000) “Contemporary Public Management: A New Global Paradigm? in ” The Art of the State, Chapter 9, 195-221(Compendium)
Greve, Carsten. (2000) “Exploring Contracts as Reinvented Institutions in the Danish Public Sector”, Public Administration, Vol. 78, 153-164

Åkerstrøm Andersen, N. (2008) “The World as Will and Adaptation: the Interdiscursive Coupling of Citizens´ Contracts” , Critical Discourse Studies, Vol. 5, 75-89 (Compendium)
Pedersen, A.R. & McGivern, Gerry (2008)“What difference do Governments make? New Public Management Reforms in British and Danish Health Care, 1: Politik, vol. 11, 65-81 (Compendium)
Coase, R. H. (1960) “The Problem of Social Costs,” Journal of Law and Economics, vol. 103:1-44. [Supplementary reading]

Coase, R. H. (1988) “The Firm, the Market and the Law” Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Chap. 1, p. 1-31. (Compendium)
Callon, M. (1998) “An essay on framing and overflowing: economic externalities revisited by sociology” in M. Callon, The Laws of the Markets. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers/The Sociological Review. Chap. 10, p. 244-270. (Compendium)
Davidson, D. J. and S. Frickel, 2004. “Understanding Environmental Governance: A Critical Review,” Organization & Environment,17(4):471-492.

Oliver, C. 1991. “Strategic Responses to Institutional Processes,” Academy of Management Review, 16(1):145-179.

Hoffman, A. 2001. “Linking Organizational and Field-level Analyses: The Diffusion of Corporate Environmental Practice,” Organization & Environment, 14(2):133-156.

Bergström, O. and P. Dobers. 2000. “Organizing Sustainable Development: From Diffusion to Translation,” Sustainable Development, vol. 8:167-179.

Garsten, C. & Hernes, T. (2008) “Ethical Dilemmas in Management”, Routledge (Book, available in SL Books on Solbjerg Plads)