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2023/2024  KAN-CSOAO1002U  Organizing Change

English Title
Organizing Change

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Mandatory
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Quarter
Start time of the course Autumn, First Quarter
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Study board
Study Board for cand.merc. and CSOA (CSOA)
Course coordinator
  • Christian De Cock - Department of Organization (IOA)
Main academic disciplines
  • Management
  • Organisation
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 02-06-2023

Relevant links

Learning objectives
Upon the courses’ completion, we expect the students to be able to fulfill the following learning objectives.
  • Discuss how identity provides a foundation for strategy and how it influences opportunities for organizations to achieve competitive advantage
  • Discuss how strategic processes may influence the construction of a new organizational identity and the organizational commitment to identity
  • Relate theories on strategy and identity to each other, and apply them in order to analyze issues of relevance to strategy, identity and organizational change processes
  • Critically reflect on implications of the theories of organizing change for strategy and identity
  • Account for how theories in both courses can be used to understand the dynamics of organizational change and the implications for managing and working in organizations
  • Explain the roles of narrative, sensemaking and commitment to organizing change, strategy and organizational identity
  • Connect theories and methods for researching organizational change, strategy and identity in the context of a concrete organizational situation.
Course prerequisites
Organizing Change must be taken together with the course Strategy and Identity as they have a common exam
Strategy and Identity in Conjunction with Organizing Changes:
Exam ECTS 15
Examination form Oral exam based on written product

In order to participate in the oral exam, the written product must be handed in before the oral exam; by the set deadline. The grade is based on an overall assessment of the written product and the individual oral performance, see also the rules about examination forms in the programme regulations.
Individual or group exam Individual oral exam based on written group product
Number of people in the group 4-5
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Assignment type Project
Release of assignment Subject chosen by students themselves, see guidelines if any
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
20 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and external examiner
Exam period Autumn
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
If a student does not pass the regular exam, the examiner of the ordinary exam decides whether a new, revised or the same project must be handed in by the submission date for the re-exam.

If a student is absent from the oral exam due to documented illness but has handed in the written group product she/he does not have to submit a new product for the re-take. However the group product must be uploaded once again on Digital Exam.

If a whole group fails the oral exam, they must hand in a revised product for the re-exam.
Description of the exam procedure

In the oral exam, the written report is used as basis for the discussion. The examination will cover both the report itself and the theory applied. 

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Change is a key word in business and management, and enables discussion of, for example, topics such as radical versus incremental change, disruption, and the use of history (continuity) in processes of change. The overall aim of the course is to introduce the students to the dynamics of change in organizations through providing them with knowledge of models and theories explaining change processes and using those theories to understand the actual challenges of organizing in a volatile societal context. Selected theories and examples are specifically chosen to address current developments in business and industry, whilst the course also links theories to methods for studying organizational phenomena.

After providing students with the basic foundation of classical change theories and models which require analytical skills we will explore concepts such as narrative, sensemaking and commitment (such exploration is mirrored in the SI course) which are particularly pertinent in situations of high ambiguity and volatility as they help framing these situations in productive ways which support action and encourage students to develop a curiosity about ambiguity.  These concepts and theories will also be put to use to discuss and frame grand challenges (e.g. The Climate Emergency, Covid-19) that face organizations and humanity more broadly.

Overlap with Strategy and Identity
This course overlaps with Strategy and Identity (SI) in several ways. Both courses focus on theories and conceptual frameworks that elaborate the processes underpinning strategy, identity and organizing hereby stressing the active role of organizational actors. While SI focuses on how actors set the direction for the trajectory of the organization, OC focuses on the various mechanisms in maintaining and transforming organizations. The exam and feedback activities for both courses are structured in such a way that constructive collaboration becomes essential whilst constantly honing the students’ critical thinking.   Taken together the two courses will explain how strategies and identities are open to change and how organizing processes serve to hold them together. Both courses will draw on abductive methods as the foundation for the joint shared student projects.

Description of the teaching methods
Dialogue-based lectures and case discussions. There are eight stand-alone OC sessions and a further six sessions that will be held in conjunction with the Strategy and Identity (SI) course and which feature integrative sessions as well as practitioners from different types of organizations
Feedback during the teaching period
The OC and SI courses offer several feedback opportunities during the class discussions as well as in dedicated activities. Feedback will be given to the group presentations in the class and during office hours. The student groups will also receive supervision and feedback on their exam projects’ progress on two separate occasions. Finally, we create and update a Canvas-based joint archive with selected previous year’s projects and have students comment on their strong points and weakness in relation to concepts from each course and teachers giving feedback to the students’ comments. This allows to better align exam expectations and prepare the students for the oral exam, as many of them have not had oral exams before or, at least, not in English. In addition, in the OC course the students will

1) Submit a short critical group essay (500-700 words) evaluating classical models and texts from the reading list on which they receive feedback from the lecturer.
2) Develop a 10 min. group presentation (which they are encouraged to do by video so there is a class video-archive on Canvas from those willing to share) applying a theoretical framework to a pertinent ‘grand challenge’. The lecturer will select the most relevant presentations to be discussed in class whilst also giving written feedback to all the submitted presentations.

Student workload
Teaching 33 hours
Preparation/reading/group work 123 hours
Exam 50 hours
Expected literature

Buchanan, D. (2017). Managing Change. In A. Wilkinson, S. J. Armstrong, & M. Lounsbury (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Management. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Cloutier, C., Gond, J.-P., & Leca, B. (2017). Justification, Evaluation and Critique in the Study of Organizations: An Introduction to the Volume. In Justification, Evaluation and Critique in the Study of Organizations (Vol. 52, pp. 3-29): Emerald Publishing Limited. 

Foster, W. M., Coraiola, D. M., Suddaby, R., Kroezen, J., & Chandler, D. (2017). The strategic use of historical narratives: a theoretical framework. Business History, 59(8), 1176-1200 (especially the 4 dimensions of the framework: ). https:/​/​www.tandfonline.com/​doi/​abs/​10.1080/​00076791.2016.1224234

Giorgi, S., Lockwood, C., & Glynn, M. A. (2015). The Many Faces of Culture: Making Sense of 30 Years of Research on Culture in Organization Studies. The Academy of Management Annals, 9(1), 1-54. 

Holt, R., & Cornelissen, J. (2014). Sensemaking revisited. Management Learning, 45(5), 525-539. (p525-529 especially) https:/​/​journals.sagepub.com/​doi/​10.1177/​1350507613486422

Ng, W. & De Cock, C. (2002). ‘Battle in the Boardroom: A Discursive Perspective’, Journal of Management Studies, 39 (1), 23-49 (especially the tables reflecting the shifting storylines). doi:10.1111/​1467-6486.00281

Salancik, G. R. (1977). Commitment and the control of organizational behavior and belief. In Staw, B.M., Salancik, G.R., (eds.), New directions in organizational behavior. 1–54. (Chicago: St. Clair. (see Canvas link: pp. 4-7))

Smircich, L.  & Morgan G. (1982) Leadership: The management of meaning. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 3: 257-273. 

Maitlis, S., & Sonenshein, S. (2010). Sensemaking in Crisis and Change: Inspiration and Insights From Weick (1988). Journal of Management Studies, 47(3), 551-580. 

Nyberg, D., & Wright, C. (2012). Justifying Business Responses to Climate Change: Discursive Strategies of Similarity and Difference. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 44(8), 1819-1835. 

Suddaby, R., & Foster, W. M. (2017). History and Organizational Change. Journal of Management, 43 (1), 19-38. doi:10.1177/​0149206316675031 

Saunders, N.K., Lewis, P., Thornhill, A. & Bristow, A. (2019). Research Methods for Business Students -  Chapter 4: Understanding research philosophy and approaches to theory development. London: Pearson

Timmermans, S., & Tavory, I. (2012). Theory Construction in Qualitative Research: From Grounded Theory to Abductive Analysis. Sociological Theory, 30(3), 167–186.

Van de Ven, A. H., & Poole, M. S. (1995). Explaining Development and Change in Organizations. The Academy of Management Review, 20(3), 510-540. 

Weick, Karl E. (1979). The social psychology of organizing (2nd ed.) New York: Random House. (Ch. 4) (see Canvas link – pp. 89-103)

Weick, K., & Quinn, R. E. (1999). Organizational Change and Development. Annual Review of Psychology, 50 (1), 361-386. - 

Last updated on 02-06-2023