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into a single view of the world that may not be best, that is surely incomplete, resistant to change, and will become outdated.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.

Learning Objectives
1. Identify issues facing organizations by employing multiple frameworks to diagnose those issues
2. Recognize and analyze different forms of strategic incentives, political power and cultural control
3. Identify the ethical challenges of adopting different ‘tools for action’

Measureable Outcomes
A. Produce a strategic/political/cultural analysis of selected cases
B. Conduct a group seminar for the class on any given topic
C. Generate a thoughtful and sophisticated response to a complex organizational issue

Course Requirement

Assessment Percentage
WEC – Online assignments (+ LinkedIn & Sim) 20
WEC – Group presentations and discussion 30
WEC – Case study 30
WEC – Class participation and weekly round-up 20

Weekly Schedule

Week 1: Introduction to course and first lens (LinkedIn learning)

Week 2: Strategic design & organizational structure (Simulation begins)

Week 3: Organizational structure (Simulation debrief)

Week 4: Political lens: Power in organizations

Week 5: Authority: Where structure and power meets

Week 6: Personal power & social networks: Invisible but detectable

Week 7: Recess Week (Case study)

Week 8: Cultural lens: Assessing organizational culture

Week 9: Incentives and motivation: Where structure and culture meet

Week 10: Commitment and control in organizations: Where power and culture meet

Week 11 & 12: Group presentations

Week 13: Review

Grace Dixon