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2016/2017  KAN-CCMVV4020U  Power, Culture and Politics in Contemporary Organizations

English Title
Power, Culture and Politics in Contemporary Organizations

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Quarter
Start time of the course Autumn, Second Quarter
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Sara Louise Muhr - Department of Organization (IOA)
Kontaktinformation: https:/​/​e-campus.dk/​studium/​kontakt/​student-hub
Main academic disciplines
  • Philosophy and ethics
  • Management
  • Organization
Last updated on 09-05-2016
Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • The students should be able to account for the concepts, theories and perspectives presented in the course.
  • The students should be able to compare and discuss the concepts, theories and perspectives presented in the course.
  • The students should be able to apply these concepts, theories and perspectives analytically and critically to given organizational case material.
  • The students should be able to operationalize these concepts theories and perspectives analytically and critically in qualitative data analysis.
  • The students should be able to critically reflect upon and evaluate the practical and theoretical limitations and implications of applying different concepts, theories and perspectives to an organizational phenomenon.
Course prerequisites
It is an advantage to have prior knowledge about organization theory and qualitative organizational analysis. We will work with advanced organizational power and culture theory/analysis.
Power, Culture and Politics in Contemporary Organizations:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Assignment type Case based assignment
Duration 72 hours to prepare
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Autumn
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
* if the student fails the ordinary exam the course coordinator chooses whether the student will have to hand in a revised product for the re- take or a new project.
Course content and structure

The aim of the course is to provide students with knowledge about how dynamics of power, culture and politics influence the behavior and decision-making in contemporary organizations and make the students capable of analyzing organizational phenomena in light of such theories.
Contemporary work-life is much more flexible and individual than it was just 20 years ago. Today, a work-day is not only limited by work-hours (e.g. 9-5), but is to a larger and larger degree also regulated by complex structures defined by demands of clients, projects and personal life situations. This means that traditional control and management mechanisms resting on notions of authoritative power and bureaucratic hierarchical structures are being replaced – or at least appended by – more subtle power structures and ephemeral organizational cultures. Understanding such power structures and cultural dynamics are of paramount importance in order to manage people – and optimize organizational performance.
The students will in this course both be presented with primary texts from the fields of for example philosophy and sociology, management texts and be expected to apply these concepts and perspectives to an organizational context. The aim of the course is therefore two-fold. 1) For the students to get a better conceptual understanding of power, culture and political theory and 2) to be able to apply these to an organizational context in order to analyze a concrete organizational problem. To emphasize this double purpose, the students will both be given conceptual lectures, but will also be working on a number of empirical assignments, in which the students will be solving cases as well as send out to do field-work (to for example collect interview and observation material), which will be analyzed and discussed in class.
By combining empirical material, management texts and philosophical concepts, the students will get a concrete and practical insight into the managerial challenges of power, culture and politics and a philosophical understanding of the more principal nature of these challenges. The students will learn to analyze and understand ethnography-inspired empirical material such as interviews and observations in light of managerial and philosophical concepts such as leadership, structure, performance, autonomy, identity, diversity, passion, desire and obligation. Besides equipping the students theoretically in the field of organizational power, culture and politics, this course will also have direct relevance for students who wish to apply qualitative ethnographic inspired studies in their master dissertations such as conducting various forms of (critical) analysis.

Teaching methods
Class time will include lectures as well as group work in which students will explore theoretical perspectives and apply them to specific cases. The students are therefore expected to have read and be familiar with the assigned readings and cases when coming to class in order to fully benefit from the teaching methods.
Student workload
teaching 33 hours
reading 113 hours
preparation for the exam 60 hours
Expected literature
  • Arnaud, G. & Vanheule, S. (2005) The division of the subject and the organization: a Lacanian approach to subjectivity at work, Journal of Organizational Change Management, 20(3): 359-369.
  • Banerjee, B. & Linstead, S. (2001) Globalization, Multiculturalism and Other Fictions: Colonialism for the New Millennium, Organization, 8(4): 683-722.
  • Bhabha (1986) Foreword, in Fanon (1986) Black Skin, White Masks. Pluto Press.
  • Contu, A. (2008) Decaf Resistance: On Misbehavior, Cynicism, and Desire in Liberal Workplaces, Management Communication Quarterly, 21(3): 364-379.
  • Fanon (1986) Black Skin, White Masks. Pluto Press.
  • Fleming, P. (2005) Metaphors of resistance, Management Communication Quarterly, 19(1): 45-66.
  • Fleming, P. and Spicer, A. (2014) ‘Power in management and organization science’, The Academy of Management Annals, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 237-298.
  • Fleming, P. & Sturdy, F. (2009): “Just be yourself!”: Towards neo-normative control in organizations? Employee Relations. Vol. 31. No.6 569-583.
  • Foucault, M (1997): The ethics of the concern of the self as a practice of freedom. In Rabinow. P. (ed.) Michel Foucault essential works of Foucault 1954-1984 ethics volume 1. Penguin Books, 281-291
  • Eagleton, T. (1991) Ideology: An Introduction. London: Verso, pp. xi-31. [Introduction and Chapter 1]
  • Easthope, Antony (1998): Bhabha, hybridity and identity, Textual Practice, 12:2, 341-348
  • Hoedemaekers, C. (2010) 'Not even semblance': exploring the interruption of identification with Lacan. Organization. 17(3): 379–393.
  • Kosmala, K. & Herbach, O. (2006) The ambivalence of professional identity: On cynicism and jouissance in audit firms. Human Relations, 59(10): 1393–1428.
  • Kunda, G. and Van Maanen, J. (1999) Changing Scripts at Work: Managers and Professionals, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 561: 64-80.
  • Maravelias, C. (2007): Freedom at Work in the Age of Post-Bureaucratic Organization. Ephemera 7(4), 555-574.
  • Mohanty, C.T. (1988) Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses, Feminist Review, 30: 61-88.
  • May, T. (2006) Genealogical histories of who we are, in The Philosophy of Foucault McGill-Queens University Press, 61-96
  • Muhr, S.L. & Kirkegaard, L. (2013) The dream consultant: Productive fantasies at work, Culture and Organization, 19(2): 105-123.
  • Muhr, S.L. & Salem, A. (2013) Specters of colonialism – illusionary equality and the forgetting of history in a Swedish organization, Management & Organizational History, 8(1): 62-76.
  • Ozkazank-Pan, B. (2008) International management research meets the rest of the world, Academy of Management Review, 33(4): 964–974.
  • Robeets, J. (2005). The Power of the ‘Imaginary’ in Disciplinary Processes. Organization, 12(5): 619-642
  • Willmott, H. (1993) Strenght is ignorance, slavery is freedom: Managing culture in modern organizations, Journal of Management Studies 3(4): 515-552.
  • Zizek, S. (2008) The Sublime Object of Ideology, part one, pp ix-57. London: Verso.
Last updated on 09-05-2016