02.202 Organizational Processes

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This course is designed to build an understanding of how organizations behave and change by analyzing
the workplace through different perspectives (or lenses).

The ability to act with skill and creativity in organizations begins with the development of multiple
perspectives on organizations. Humans habitually settle into fixed perspectives, unchallenged mental
models of how the world works, unconscious filters determining what we pay attention to and what we
ignore. These habits offer powerful economies of thought: without them, the simplest task of picking a
face out in a crowd or listening to the radio while driving would be impossible. But they impose ‘costs’ as
well. They lock us into a single view of the world that may not be best, that is surely incomplete, resistant
to change, and will become outdated. Overcoming organizational challenges requires the discipline of
interpreting what we see and hear in organizations from multiple standpoints.

As a starting point, this course is organized around three different perspectives on organizations: the
strategic design perspective, the cultural perspective, and the political perspective. Each of them offers a
different angle on what is an organization, and each offers different ‘tools for action’. People naturally
populate these organizations. Accordingly, we will probe some of the psychological and social processes
that are at work in organizations. We will then turn to a more in‐depth treatment of the strategic design,
political, and cultural perspectives on organization, and examine the implications of these insights for
understanding the prospects and challenges of working in organizations.

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Grace Dixon