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2021/2022  KAN-CCMVV2415U  Strategy and Organizational Structure

English Title
Strategy and Organizational Structure

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Quarter
Start time of the course Second Quarter
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 120
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Julia Bodner
    Carmelo Cennamo - Department of Strategy and Innovation (SI)
Main academic disciplines
  • Organisation
  • Strategy
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 15-02-2021

Relevant links

Learning objectives
At the end of the course, students should be able to demonstrate:
  • a familiarity with the core concepts of incentives and decision rights—the allocation decision-power within organizations’ structures—as the building blocks of strategy implementation
  • the ability to apply core concepts in order to analyze how people will act in response to any given (change in) incentives, decision rights, and organizational structures to real-world cases, and an awareness of common pitfalls
  • an awareness of the interdependences between different elements of organization design—e.g., incentives and pay structures (wages/bonuses/stock), the design of teams, and recruitment—to better understand how employees act in organizations and to elicit desired behaviors (such as initiative, coordination, cooperation, and trust)
  • an understanding of the role of big data and artificial intelligence in incentives and organization design
  • a basic understanding of how to analyse employee data—in order to understand which employees are at risk of departing (and possible things to do about it), and to forecast future employee behaviour
Strategy and Organizational Structure:
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 Written assignment
Duration 2 weeks to prepare
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Incentives and decision rights are core elements of strategy implementation. Firms need to encourage value-creating behavior and discourage value-destroying behavior to advance organizational strategic goals. To do so, it is important that firms select the right people, provide the right incentives, and organize their structure accordingly. However, these choices are often challenging: If we change the design of an organization, its incentive systems, or its decision rights, we will change how people in the organization act.


In this class, students will learn that changes of incentives and decision rights often have surprising and unintended consequences. The course will cover core theoretical concepts in organizational economics, human resource management, and strategy. We will use case studies to discuss possible pitfalls of incentives and organization design choices and potential ways to avoid them. Students will learn to better understand employee responses to common forms of incentives and organization designs. The class thereby prepares students to make better predictions of intended and unintended consequences of incentives. A main goal of this class is for the students to be aware of the interdependences of incentives and organization design choices and be better equipped to continuously manage these interdependences in their future workplace.

Description of the teaching methods
The course is structured into four sections: 1) Incentives, 2) People, 3) People Analytics, and 4) Structure. Two types of sessions will alternate: sessions where students learn about core theoretical concepts and research, and discussion sessions based on cases and recent examples from practitioners’ real-world perspectives. Students’ preparation for the case study sessions will be guided by a few (1-4) questions based on the reading or their own experience. Students will respond to these questions in online polls, which allows students to focus on few core take-aways in the readings. Required class preparation consists of two elements: For about half of the sessions, there will be a requirement to read a case study prior to class. Some classes are complemented by pre-class preparation with podcasts, videos, or articles. The reading list below is meant to give an idea about the discussed topics. There is no required textbook for the class.
Feedback during the teaching period
Students will be asked to respond to pre-class online polls with questions prior to the classes that focus on case studies, which will guide the in-class discussions. Feedback will be given as we discuss the cases and readings. In-class polls and multiple-choice questions will be used to also prompt discussions and enable feedback during class. Finally, students can also stop by to get feedback and ask questions during office hours.
Student workload
Teaching 33 hours
Preparation 100 hours
Exam 73 hours
Expected literature


Charan, R., Barton, D., & Carey, D. (2015). People Before Strategy: A New Role for the CHRO. Harvard Business Review, (July-August), 1–23.

Duhigg, C. (2016). What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team. The New York Times Magazine.

Gallo, A. (2016). A Refresher on Randomized Controlled Experiments. Harvard Business Review.

Groysberg, B., Lee, L.-E., & Nanda, A. (2008). Can They Take It With Them? The portability of star knowledge workers’ performance. Management Science, 54(7), 1213–1230.

Huckman, R. S., & Pisano, G. P. (2006). The Firm Specificity of Individual Performance: Evidence From Cardiac Surgery. Management Science, 52(4), 473–488.

Lee, S., & Meyer-Doyle, P. (2017). How Performance Incentives Shape Individual Exploration and Exploitation: Evidence From Microdata. Organization Science, 28(1), 19–38.

Maini, V., & Sabri, S. (2017). Machine Learning for Humans.

McCord, P. (2014). How Netflix Reinvented HR. Harvard Business Review, (January-February), 1–16.

Neilson, G. L., & Wulf, J. (2012). How Many Direct Reports? Harvard Business Review, (April), 1–18.

Obloj, T., & Sengul, M. (2012). Incentive Life-Cycles: Learning and the Division of Value in Firms. Administrative Science Quarterly, 57(2), 305–347.

Peck, D. (2013). They’re Watching You at Work. The Atlantic.

Roberts, J. (2007). The Modern Firm: Organizational Design for Performance and Growth. Oxford University Press.


Segal, D. (2012). Apple’s Retail Army, Long on Loyalty but Short on Pay. The New York Times, pp. 1–17.

 Sevcenko, V., & Ethiraj, S. (2018). How do firms appropriate value from employees with transferable skills? A study of the appropriation puzzle in actively managed mutual funds. Organization Science, 29(5), 775–795.


Last updated on 15-02-2021