Among the major facets of an organization's existence, its human dynamics have consistently proven to be the most challenging to understand, predict and control. While "common sense," sound judgment, and intuition about how and why people act the way they do, gained from one's own personal experience, serve us well some of the time, these alone become inadequate for managers who are trying to deal effectively with the complex events involved in managerial work today. Managers must simultaneously plan and implement organizational goals, acquire and distribute resources, manage budgetary and other controls, inform, lead, inspire, and respond to emergencies.
Organizational behavior is the field that has evolved
to augment and improve common sense and intuition in these areas.
This course will be an introduction to the accumulated knowledge
about individual, group, and system-wide behavior in organizations
and to contemporary approaches for both diagnosing and intervening
in situations at each of these system levels. Because its content
directly applies to and meshes with other management disciplines,
the course is placed early in the MBA core sequence.
TEACHING / LEARNING APPROACH
There are both intellectual and experiential learning goals for the course. There will be exposure to theories, concepts, and important literature in the field, with frequent opportunities to integrate and apply this knowledge through case discussions, in-class simulation exercises, an action project, and written exams.
Effective learning is a two-way process in which
experimenting, simulating, and discussing are at least as important
as listening to the instructor. To make this approach work effectively,
thorough preparation and consistent, high quality participation
by class members is essential. The instructor will evaluate each
student's classroom performance, weighted as 30% of the course
grade. Other components of the grade will be a mid-course test
(20%), an action inquiry project (25%), and a final exam (25%).
Texts: 1. David A. Kolb, Joyce S. Osland, & Irwin M. Rubin, The Organizational Behavior Reader,6th edition, Prentice-Hall, 1995. (OBR)
2. Jay Galbraith, Competing with Flexible Lateral Organizations,Addison- Wesley, 1994. (FLO)
3. Jon R. Katzenbach & Douglas K. Smith,The Wisdom of TeamsHarperCollins 1993 WT
4. "MM 712/MB 720, Managing People and Organizations and Management Practice:Skills Supplementary Materials" (purple cover, cellophane wrapped available at BC Bookstore). (SM)
5. The Orientation
Packet used during the first week events
Instructor: Dal Fisher
(617) 552-0452 (ofc); email@example.com;
(617) 964-4076 (H); fax, 552-4230 Department office
mailbox: Fulton 430. Secy.: Jean Passavant, 552-0450; Office
hours: M,W, 4-5 PM; Th, 5:30-6:15 PM; other times by appointment
Monday, 9/8 Introduction to the course and the action inquiry project
Communication in organizations
Case: Suzanne de Passe at Motown Productions SM
Read: Senge, The leader's
new work... OBR, 76-96; Fisher & Torbert, Chapter 2,
Action inquiry: The gene of CQI, SM; Action Inquiry Project
assignment (last page of this syllabus).
Questions: 1. What does Senge mean by "systems thinking?"
2. Do you see any evidence that Suzanne de Passe did "systems thinking" while managing at Motown Productions? Explain.
3. Could Suzanne de Passe have been more effective?
If so, how? 4. In the Fisher & Torbert chapter, what do
you think were the 3 most important things Jennifer did, and
the 3 most important things Anthony did?
Wednesday, 9/10 Communication
The action inquiry project
Read: Fisher & Torbert,
Chapter 3, Fundamentals of action inquiry, SM; McClelland,
That urge to achieve, OBR, 136-142.
Questions: 1. Review the action inquiry project assignment (last page in this syllabus) and plan what you will do to carry out this assignment. Come to class ready to discuss your plan.
2. Based on McClelland's article, how would
you define "motivation?" What is a "motive"
Monday, 9/15 Motivation
Read: McGregor, The human
side of enterprise, OBR, 56-64; Hackman, & others,
A new strategy for job enrichment, OBR 636-653; Nadler
& Lawler, Motivation: A diagnostic approach, OBR 125-135;
Kerr, On the folly of rewarding A while hoping for B, OBR
Questions: 1. As a manager or leader, how could you apply the ideas in McGregor's article?
2. Explain the expectancy theory model of motivation.
3 How does expectancy theory compare with McClelland's concept of achievement motivation? Similarities? Differences?
4. How does expectancy theory compare with the concept of motivation implied in the Hackman, et. al. article, "A new strategy for Job enrichment"? Similarities? Differences?
5. Evaluate each of the "implications for
organizations" (OBR 131-132) based on what you
now know of motivation theory.
Wednesday, 9/17 Diagnosing group culture
Case: Chicago Bond Sales
Read: WT 65-129
Orientation Packet: Leavitt & Lipman-Blumen, "Hot Groups."
OBR 270-281 (principally, the diagram in
Figure 1, p. 271, and "Team Development and Effectiveness,"
Question: 1. How do teams become "true teams" or "hot groups?" How does your own past and current team experience compare?
2. Be prepared to describe the Chicago Bond Sales
Department prior to and following the creation of the Special
Accounts Group (SAG) using the framework in Figure 1, p. 271,
of the OBR. Consider Interpersonal processes, norms,
cohesion, roles, boundaries, and team effectiveness. What
recommendations would you make to Ed Powers?
Monday, 9/22 Assessing team effectiveness
Case: Aston-Blair, Inc.,
Read: WT, 62-64. Orientation
Packet: Katzenbach & Smith, "The Discipline of
Teams;" Hardaker & Ward, "How to Make Teams Work."
Questions: 1. Describe and rate your entrepreneurship
project group, drawing on materials in the. Be prepared to
discuss your observations and conclusions with your team in
2. Evaluate the task force at Aston-Blair in terms
of the items in WT, pp. 62-64. Evaluate Michael Bacon's
performance as leader of the task force. Consider his specific
actions (See, for example, "Initial Meeting of The Task
Force," p. 3 in the case.) At what points could he have
been more effective, and what could he have done differently at
Wednesday, 9/24 Producing team effectiveness
The action inquiry report is due in class today.
Questions: 1. What do you see as the three most important points K&S are making in chapters 9-12 about what has to happen for teams to exploit their potential? How does your own experience relate?
2. To what extent do you think the points K&S
are making in chapters 9-12 would apply to a new business
Mr. Ed Cornelia, a founder of Document Directions,
Inc., incorporated in 1994, will visit this class to discuss developing
a start-up team and communicating the team's capabilities to prospective
investors. This session is intended to link our work on teams
in the MPO course to the business plan project. Members of your
business plan team who are not taking MPO are welcome to attend.
Monday, 9/29 Test
Power in organizations
A test will be given during the first hour of
Case: Maureen Frye at
Quaker Steel and Alloy Corporation SM
On the test, you will be asked to apply concepts
from the course to date to the Maureen Frye case. The test
will also include a few short essay questions relating to topics
addressed thusfar in the course.
Wednesday, 10/1 Organization design
Case: Maureen Frye at
Quaker Steel and Alloy Corporation SM
Read: Galbraith, FLO, chapters 1-3
Questions: 1. What does Galbraith mean by "the lateral organization?" Is Quaker Steel a lateral organization? 2. What 3 types of lateral coordination does Galbraith (Chapter 2) identify and what factors intensify the need for each?
3. If an organization wishes to add "types
and amounts of lateral organization," what would these
be, and why might it be useful to add them? To what extent
did Maureen Frye use the concepts Galbraith discusses in chapter
Monday, 10/6 Organization design
Case: Dashman Company,
Read: FLO, chapters 4
Questions: 1. If Mr.Post (the new purchasing vp at Dashman) had read Galbraith's chapters 4 & 5, what possible alternative approaches might he have considered? 2. Why is coordination across business units difficult (chapter 4), and what are some ways of improving it?
3. What are "integrators" (chapter 5), and what do they have to do to be effective?
4. Was Mr. Post designing a "matrix (lateral)
organization?" Could it be made to work effectively?
Wednesday, 10/8 Organization design
Case: Bancil Corporation,
Read: Snow, Miles, &
Coleman, Managing 21st century network organizations, OBR,
611-624; Galbraith (FLO), Chapter
Questions: 1. Be prepared to play the role of Chevalier/Gentile, or of Tom Wilson, of Bancil Corporation in the meeting at the Vietnamese restaurant.
2. Is Bancil a "distributed organization?" Should it be?
3. According to Miles, Snow, & Coleman, why
is there a trend toward external "network organizations?"
What similarities do you see between external and internal
Wednesday, 10/15 Changing organizations
Cases: Walt Disney's Dennis Hightower, SM
General Electric: Jack
Welch's Second Wave (A), SM
Read: Kanter, "Managing
the human side of change," OBR 676-682; Shepard, "Rules
of thumb for change agents," OBR, 683-688; WT,
Questions: 1. What does Dennis Hightower have going for him and against him as he takes over as vp of consumer products for Europe, Walt Disney Co. in Europe? Outline a plan of action for him. Do Kanter's 10 reasons for resistance to change apply? Do her suggestions for overcoming them apply?
2. What is your appraisal of the changes Welch
made at GE? Do you think Shepard and Katzenbach & Smith
would agree with Welch's approach?
Friday, 10/17 Changing organizations
Case: Charlotte Beers at Oglivy and Mather Worldwide (A) SM
Read: Beer, Eisenstat, & Spector, "Why change programs don't produce change," OBR, 656-676; Mintzberg, "The manager's job: Folklore and fact," OBR, 30-46.
Questions: 1. What do Beer, Eisenstat, and Spector mean by the difference between "programatic change" and "task alignment?" Do you agree with the "task alignment" approach to change? Which of these approaches to change comes closest to describing Charlotte Beers's way of managing?
2. How effective is Charlotte Beers, and why?
3. Why is the managerial role difficult to perform
according to Mintzberg? To what extent does Charlotte Beers
overcome the difficulties Mintzberg identifies?
Monday, 10/20 Human Resources management
Read: Lawler, Mohrman, & Resnick, "Performance
appraisal revisited," OBR, 535- 548.
Question: What is your experience and what are your views on the 5 recommendations Lawler, Mohrman, & Resnick state about performance appraisal ( OBR, pp. 546-547)?
Action Inquiry Project
- Due September 24, 1997, in class
The purpose of this assignment is for you to attempt several action inquiry interventions, then write a report in which you describe your experiences and evaluate your overall effort. To complete the assignment, carry out the following steps:
a. Select one or more persons or groups with whom you think you might be able to use action inquiry to help achieve an objective or deal with a problem. Your several (about 3-5) interventions may be with a single person or group around a single problem, or may be with several different persons or groups around different situations or problems. The objectives or problems may or may not be one the other(s) currently recognize. You might aim your interventions at helping the other(s) recognize a problem (or opportunity) or at helping the other(s) deal more effectively or legitimately with something of which they are already aware. Alternatively, your intervention(s) may be aimed at achieving a purpose of your own. Your intervention(s) will not necessarily be complete at the time you write and submit your report. You should, however, have engaged in several conversations over a period of about two weeks by the time the report is due. The main purpose of the assignment is for you to practice, learn about, and improve your skill in (1) the "types of speech" and (2) the process of reflecting on and refocusing your action. After each conversation, write notes in which you critique your performance, reviewing concepts from the classes and readings to inform your critique. Include in your notes what you have discovered about the "types of speech" you need to work on more effectively weaving into your next intervention. Then, after your next meeting, again evaluate your action and use this critique as a source of ideas for your next meeting.
b. Write a report (about 5-7 pp., 10 pt. double spaced) in which you describe, analyze, and critique your interventions. Please include the following in your report:
descriptions of the situation(s) involved, prior to your interventions, including your own view of them and your reasons for wanting to intervene;
descriptions of what you said, did, thought, and wrote in each conversation, as well as before and after each conversation. Identify the elements of action inquiry you used and point out ways in which you feel you could have been more effective than you were. (You may wish to quote or paraphrase some of your conversations.) Make explicit use of concepts from the course relating to action inquiry in writing your analysis. "Concepts" means the "types of speech (Fisher & Torbert, chapter 3) and the plan-rehearse-act-reflect-critique cycle (underlined above, and referred to in Fisher & Torbert, pp. 13-14, and illustrated by Jennifer's approach on p. 20). You may in addition draw on concepts from other parts of this course to date.
of how your effort to practice and learn the skill of action inquiry