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2012/2013  KAN-SOL_OS46  Organizations and Society

English Title
Organizations and Society

Course information

Language English
Exam ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Mandatory
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Quarter
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 - Department of Organization
Main Category of the Course
  • Organization
Last updated on 09-07-2012
Learning objectives
At the exam the student should demonstrate ability to:
  • explain the meaning and influence of institutional environments on organizations
  • explain strategic responses to institutional pressure
  • relate responses to individual organizations, organizational fields, or sectors/industries
  • explain notions of ethics and how they relate to Corporate Social Responsibility processes
Organizations and Society:
Type of test Home Assignment
Marking scale 7-step scale
Second examiner Second internal examiner
Exam period Spring Term
Aids Please, see the detailed regulations below
Duration Please, see the detailed regulations below
Individual project (essay paper) (max. 10 standard pages).
The deadline for submitting the project will be in June.
The make-up/re-exam takes place in August.
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
Write a 10-page essay discussing ethical paradoxes, dilemmas, problems or challenges applied to a specific organization, type of organization, organizational field or an industry. The essay should address a specific issue of relevance to contemporary society and draw upon texts in the course, although it need not be limited to those texts.
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.

The course combines, institutional forces in society with organizational response and ethical dilemmas of management. The institutional part draws primarily on the 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. In order to understand CSR a lecture is devoted to the implementation of CSR processes in organizations. Organizational strategic responses are then presented to provide understanding of how organizations deal with multiple institutional pressures. A lecture on ethics is included to facilitate understanding of managerial dilemmmas of responding to institutional pressures


Teaching methods
The course combines lectures with case-method teaching.
Expected literature

Scott , W.R. (1992) “Conceptions of Environments” in “Organizations, Rational, Natural, and Open Systems”. Prentice-Hal, Inc. cpt. 6, 125-149

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.
Hood, C. (1991) “A Public Management for all Reasons”, Public Administration, Vol. 69, 3-19
Hood, C. (2000) “Contemporary Public Management: A New Global Paradigm? in ” The Art of the State, Chapter 9, 195-221
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
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

Coase, R. H. (1960) “The Problem of Social Costs,” Journal of Law and Economics, vol. 103:1-44.

Garsten, C. & Hernes, T. (2008) “Ethical Dilemmas in Management”, Routledge

Last updated on 09-07-2012