Organizational Behaviour (BE410) 2019-20
This module builds on the first year module BE400 to develop and deepen several of the
themes introduced there. The intention is to dig deeper into the concepts of management,
work and organization in order to understand the interplay of management practices and
experiences of organizational life. The focus is on understanding the social, historical,
economic, and cultural context within which things and people are organized. The module
considers a number of broad and overlapping topics in the field of organizational behaviour
and explores these with reference to both their historical origins and their contemporary
The focus is on the social and cultural dynamics and power relations and that shape the
management and experience of organizational life. ‘Organization’ here has three
meanings, organization as an entity, a thing (an organization); organization as an activity,
a practice (organizing) and organization as an idea, even an ideal. All these three
meanings have a direct impact on how we organize and manage in our daily lives and
Whilst a clear description of organizational realities is important, to really understand
management, work and organization, it is necessary to move beyond description, first to
analyse and then to critically evaluate. Analysis means moving beyond description to
understand the social contexts, processes and dynamics that give rise to particular
organizational structures, relations and patterns of behaviour.
All students who successfully complete this module should be able to make and articulate
an informed judgement on specific management and organizational practices, evaluating
them in terms of their contexts and effects. This is an essential skill set for all managers,
who are often in a privileged and influential position when it comes to making changes to
the way we organize. It is also an important basis for final year study and beyond.
The aims of the module are:
1) To provide an appropriate level of conceptual and theoretical understanding of
2) To develop an informed understanding of the ways in which broader social contexts
and changes affect organizational behaviour and management practice.
3) To develop students’ abilities to engage in critical analysis, evaluation and
argumentation through class discussion, reading, participation and assessment.
On successful completion of the module, students should be able to:
1) Demonstrate a social scientifically informed understanding of organizational
behaviour, drawing on relevant theories, concepts and examples of organizational
settings (CWI and CWII).
2) Apply social scientific concepts and ideas to explain and evaluate changing
contexts shaping the management and experience of work organizations (CWII).
3) Develop and deploy skills in critical analysis, evaluation and argumentation through
class discussion, reading, participation and assessment (CWI and CWII).
The module is assessed by two pieces of coursework, as follows:
Assignment (1) – Short answer questions (20%)
For the first assignment, students should write a response to the following two shortanswer
Answers must be written in full prose (not note-style) and should be 1,500 words in total
(750 words per question) excluding references (+/- up to 100 words will not be penalized).
All parts of the question must be answered using ONE article as source material for each
question (e.g. one article for Question 1, and one article for Question 2).
PDFs of all papers are provided on Moodle.
The aim is to provide student choice, while at the same time making sure that core
knowledge is developed and demonstrated, in order to meet the Learning Outcomes
1. Organizing identity
Choose and read ONE of the following:
• Ackroyd and Crowdy’s (1990) classic study of slaughterhouse workers;
• Brown and Coupland’s (2015) paper on professional rugby players, or
• Rajan-Rankin’s (2018) study of an Indian call centre, or
a) Describe THREE examples of the identity management techniques discussed in
the article you have chosen.
b) Explain why you think these techniques are used and evaluate the effects they
have, as described in the article.
2. Power relations and inequalities at work
Choose and read ONE of the following:
• Walters’ (2016) study of ‘mall models’ at Abercrombie & Fitch;
• Griffiths et al’s (2016) study of racial bullying in the US Fire Service, or
• Mik-Meyer’s (2016) paper on the organizational experiences of people with
a) With reference to THREE examples, outline the ways in which power is
exercised in the organizational settings discussed in the article you have
b) Evaluate the claim that the emotional and aesthetic demands of contemporary
organizations undermine corporate commitments to equality, considering how
this impacts on the experience and management of organizational behaviour
discussed in the article.
Assignment (2) – Essay (80%)
Choose ONE question from the following three:
1. How and why do managers use aspects of organizational life such as culture and
space to influence behaviour?
2. Do recent developments in how work is experienced and organized suggest
increasing freedom of choice and flexibility, or insecurity and anxiety?
3. ‘Ours is an organizational society’ (Etzioni, 1950: 1). Explain and evaluate the
claim that this assertion is even more relevant today than it was nearly 70 years
Essays should be approximately 3,000 words in length (+/- up to 10% will not be
penalized), excluding references.
Both assignments must be word-processed and written in an appropriate academic style.
All coursework will be processed using plagiarism detection software.
Both assignments must include a list of ‘References’ cited in the piece of work – NOT a
Bibliography. References must include a full list of all articles, books and other sources
that have been cited in the assignment. This must be written in Harvard style. In the main
body of the assignment, page numbers must be included for ALL direct quotations, using
Harvard style (e.g. ‘Rajan-Rankin, 2018: 116).
All answers should make reference to a range of well-chosen organizational examples and
to relevant concepts and theoretical ideas in order to make connections between the
changing contexts and forms of organizational behaviour.
All answers should aim to:
• Be well structured, with a clear introduction and conclusion.
• Make good use of relevant academic source material.
• Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key conceptual and theoretical
• Engage with relevant academic debates and different perspectives.
• Be referenced clearly, accurately and consistently, using Harvard style referencing.
• Be original work, and achieve a mark below the expected threshold when checked.
• Include a range of well-chosen examples to illustrate key points.
• NOT cite websites (apart from academic journal articles or news items accessed
online, or organizational websites as illustrative examples).
Assignments should be submitted electronically to FASER by 10.00am on the given
For details on electronic submission, see:
Academic Offences Procedure
For details of the University’s Academic Offences Procedure, see:
Please note: it is a student’s own responsibility to be aware of the University’s Academic
Offences Procedure, the regulations governing examinations, and how to correctly
reference and cite the work of others.
Indicative answers and application of the marking scheme
With the intended Learning Outcomes in mind, both assignments will be graded as follows:
• Excellent answers (70s+) will demonstrate an extremely well informed
understanding of organizational behaviour, drawing on carefully chosen theories
and concepts, applying these to a well thought through and insightful analysis
deploying well-developed skills in academic research, critical evaluation, and
argumentation. Strongest answers will demonstrate a capacity to synthesize ideas
from different sources and will demonstrate evidence of originality in the analysis
and argument presented.
• Very good answers (60s) will demonstrate a considered understanding of
organizational behaviour, drawing on relevant theories and concepts and applying
these to a convincing analysis of appropriate examples, demonstrating skills in
research, critical evaluation and argumentation. These answers will be analytical
but will lack the originality or level of insight of the strongest answers.
• Good answers (50s) will apply relevant concepts and theoretical ideas to develop
a good understanding of key issues and examples, deploying skills in research,
evaluation and argumentation. These answers will tend to be more descriptive than
• Satisfactory answers (40s) will demonstrate a relatively basic understanding of
key issues and ideas, relying largely on taught material and readings provided on
Moodle, thereby deploying only limited skills in research, evaluation and
• Weakest answers (below 40) will demonstrate only a minimal understanding of
relevant concepts, theories, issues and source material, and will fail to deploy skills
in research, evaluation and argumentation at the required level. Assessments in this
category will tend to engage insufficiently with relevant academic source material,
with not reference sources cited accurately and thoroughly, and/or will lack a
sustained focus on the set question.
In accordance with the School’s Reassessment Strategy 2019-2020, reassessment will be
by coursework only (100%). Students who have not achieved an overall pass mark for the
module (40%) will be required to submit an essay approximately 3,000 words in length
(+/- up to 10% will not be penalized), excluding references, in response to the following
Knights and Willmott (2017: 1) argue that the following concepts provide a framework for
analysing key aspects of organizational behaviour:
Choose ONE of these concepts and demonstrate its importance to understanding the
ways in which managers and workers behave in contemporary organizations, illustrating
your answer with reference to a range of relevant examples and academic literature.
For indicative answers to reassessment, please see above.