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2021/2022  KAN-CCDCO1004U  Leading Complex Organizations

English Title
Leading Complex Organizations

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Mandatory (also offered as elective)
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Spring, Spring
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Study board
Study Board for BSc and MSc in Business, Language and Culture, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Dan Kärreman - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
  • Eric Guthey - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • Management
  • Organisation
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 18-06-2021

Relevant links

Learning objectives
  • Compare in detail the theoretical foundations and practical consequences of the systems control perspective and the process relational perspective on strategy, management and organisation
  • Define key process relational concepts including strategic exchange, strategic enactment, and sense-making, and explain how they help explain the dynamics and challenges that characterize the management of complex organizations
  • Use these theoretical concepts to define and evaluate the nature of knowledge work, the skills and interests of knowledge workers, and the complex nature of the organizational and inter-organizational dynamics that characterize knowledge work.
  • Describe and evaluate the complexity of the challenges that confront organizations populated by large numbers of experts, professionals, and knowledge workers.
  • Apply all of these concepts and perspectives to analyse a wide range of cases chosen to exemplify strategic, organisational and managerial issues and dilemmas that confront complex organizations and the people who work in them.
Leading Complex Organizations:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 10 pages
Assignment type Case based assignment
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Summer
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

This course prepares students for careers as effective managers by exploring the key practical and conceptual tasks and challenges facing complex organizations and the people who work in them. These challenges include organizing work as a series of diverse and challenging projects; managing project portfolios; negotiating work tasks with experts, professionals, and knowledge workers; maintaining integration in very diverse workplaces; and grappling with uncertainty and change. The course stresses that in such contexts, the strategic, organisational and cultural aspects of management practice always intersect and overlap. At the same time, the course explores several theories that link these dynamics tightly together.
The course further pursues the notion that management practices rooted in industrial regimes of production increasingly have been superseded in many instances by new management practices that foreground collaboration, leadership, culture and the regulation of identity. The course therefore includes discussion of those aspects of organisational life that are often marginalised in standard texts, including the politics and complexities of managerial decision-making, the personal stresses associated with managerial work, the roles played by ordinary human interaction, relationships, and humour in organizational settings.

Description of the teaching methods
Class time will consist of a combination of lectures and case-based discussions. Students will participate actively in and analyzing presenting readings and cases. Students will be strongly encouraged to form study groups that meet outside of class to prepare and discuss the readings and cases in advance.
Feedback during the teaching period
Feedback will be given continuously in class and/or during office hours.
Student workload
Lectures 30 hours
Exam 34 hours
Preparation 142 hours
Total 206 hours
Expected literature

Course materials consist of a textbook, journal articles, and business cases. All students are responsible for obtaining all course materials and for showing up for class ready to discuss them. The case materials assigned for this course are all available for purchase at the Harvard Business School Publishing.

Indicative Literature:
Tony Watson, Organising and Managing Work. Financial Times/ Prentice Hall; 2 edition (10 Jan 2006).

Last updated on 18-06-2021