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2016/2017  KAN-CPHIV1463U  Approaches to Organisational Theory

English Title
Approaches to Organisational Theory

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 45
Study board
Study Board for BSc/MSc in Business Administration and Philosophy, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Hanne Erdman Thomsen - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
  • Spencer Shaw - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Secretary Tine Silfvander - ts.iadh@cbs.dk
Main academic disciplines
  • Philosophy and ethics
  • Organization
Last updated on 08-03-2016
Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors: The course will develop student’s ability to analyse complex texts in a lucid and coherent way. After defining the implications of philosophy for each school of organisational thought, students will be able to contextualise, question and explore traditional as well as current trends in organisation theory. They will be able to assess and evaluate relevant policies for initiating change and forming organisational strategy.
At the end of the course the students should be able to:
  • Have a broad comprehension of key philosophical concepts which have impacted the business enterprise
  • Contextualise each new phase in organisation theory.
  • Discuss and analyse core theories in organisation and change as they have been influenced by philosophical concepts
  • Think critically with the aid of fundamental philosophical concepts
  • Discuss the feasibility of change as an imposed/spontaneous occurrence
Course prerequisites
A level of at least intermediate (B I) in English is a prerequisite.
Approaches to Organisational Theory:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 5 pages
Assignment type Written assignment
Duration 72 hours to prepare
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter and Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content and structure

The course will serve as an introduction to the key debates in organisation theory which have been informed by philosophical schools of thought. Normally the disciplines of philosophy and organisation have been separated in the humanities and business studies. The increasing tendency to combine them today has led to a degree of mystification and confusion as the philosophical foundations involved are complex and need to be carefully unravelled when applied to organisation or change in a business context. Consequently, the aim of the course is to help students master the relevant business and philosophical texts in order to clearly understand what the basic issues are, and how they have developed at different periods in time. The focus area is organisations, the way they are formed, their ontological status, the way they allow/hinder change to occur. This includes shifting notions of subjectivity and the power/knowledge correlation.

The course will systematically unravel the many strands which have gathered around the understanding of organisations and change. We begin with the phenomenological approach and attempt to clarify functionalist sociology and the impact of phenomenological experience in the consciousness of the lifeworld. The second half of the course looks at social constructionism and Gergen’s work. Finally the influence of Foucault will be analysed in terms of postmodern organisational theory. Throughout we will emphasise that though these movements have distinctive characteristics, there are common themes which carry considerable significance for the possibility of present day adaption and change.

Teaching methods
Class work will consist of lectures, careful analysis of texts and group work. Groups will be formed to present the core arguments of important texts and these will be discussed and evaluated by other groups in class.
Student workload
Attending lectures 30 hours
Preparing for lectures 50 hours
Making exercises/course assignments 30 hours
Preparing for exam 72 hours
Exam 24 hours
Further Information

Changes in course schedule may occur
Tuesday 09.50-12.25, week 36-41, 43-47

Expected literature

Course books:

D. Knights and G. Morgan. Corporate strategy, organizations, and subjectivity: a critique. Organization Studies 12. 1991.

S. Clegg. Weber and Foucault: Social theory for the study of organizations. Organization 1. 1994

G. Burrell and G. Morgan. Sociological Paradigms and Organizational Analysis Gower Publishing. 1979/1985

D. Crowther and M. Green. Organizational Theory. CIPD Publishing. 2004

K. Gergen. Social Construction in Context. London. Sage.2001.

M. Foucault. Discipline and Punish. Harmondsworth. 1977

M. Foucault. Power/Knowledge. New York. Pantheon. 1980.

Last updated on 08-03-2016