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Sample ECON 327 Syllabus

ORGANIZATION THEORY

 

Economics 327 – Fall 2008

Tom Will

 

Office:             Buttrick G-29b

e-mail:             twill@agnesscott.edu

Office Phone: X5485

Office Hours:  Mon. 11:00-11:45; Tues. 12:45-1:45; Wed. 11:00-11:45; Thurs 12:45-1:45;

or by appointment

Class Times:    T/TH 2:00-3:15, Buttrick G-26

 

Course Description: This course examines themes and tensions permeating organization theory. We will explore modernist, symbolic-interpretive, and postmodern perspectives on such areas of concern as organizational environment, social structure, technology, culture, power, and conflict. The primary concern of this course is to analyze how ontological and epistemological assumptions informing competing paradigms generate very different insights into organizations. 

 

Readings:

§      Mary Jo Hatch, Organization Theory, 2nd edition

§      Articles indicated on the syllabus (and posted on Blackboard)

 

Assignments & Grading:

 

Reaction Papers:         40% (10 of them at 4% each)

            Final Exam:                 40%

            Participation:               20%

 

Assignments and Grading Breakdown:

 

Reaction Papers: Students will write 10 reaction papers of 2-3 pages each (double-spaced, 1-inch margins). There are 13 opportunities to write a reaction paper; from the 13, each student will choose 10 occasions to write and hand-in a paper. On the course schedule an asterisk appears by each of these 13 opportunities. Papers will be handed to me, in paper form, during class time on the respective day (in other words, on the day with an asterisk). Papers will not be accepted after class adjourns.

 

Your reaction papers should pertain to all readings that have been assigned since the previous reaction paper was due. Your papers should demonstrate analytical thought. I want to emphasize that successful reaction papers will go beyond descriptive review of what the articles said. While some description will likely be necessary to establish a point of departure for your analysis, I do want you to get to that analysis stage.

Within those parameters, you have considerable latitude to determine the content of your papers. I understand that it is challenging to identify compelling issues and concerns to address. That is precisely the challenge I desire you to embrace, however, for it will engage you meaningfully with the material. Broadly, your papers might attempt one or more of the following:

·         To relate that week’s readings to one another. You might, for example, highlight similarities or salient differences between the theoretical perspectives adopted by the various authors in a given week

·         To draw connections (as the semester proceeds) between the focal week’s readings and readings from previous weeks

·         To explore the nature of the relationship (as you see it) between the readings’ abstract theory and the world around us. Does the theory you are considering strike you as especially descriptive, or utterly out of touch with any organizations you have ever known? How so?

·         To critique a theory on grounds of internal inconsistency, or weak logic, or faulty premises, or irrelevance, as you see things.

·         To pose questions that the readings left you with (and that you then ask in class!)

·         These are merely sample approaches; you may choose others.

 

 

Final Exam: An exam consisting of three to four essays will be administered during the final exam period. The exam will cover the entire semester.

 

Participation: Students are expected to complete readings prior to the day for which they are assigned. The success of this course depends upon—and the small size of the class invites—your informed participation and active engagement in class discussions. Accordingly, each student will earn a participation grade. I base my assessment of participation on both the quality and the quantity of comments you make.

In the interest of full disclosure and fair warning, I really want to emphasize here that I expect everyone to participate. If you attend every class but never make a comment or raise a pertinent question, your participation grade will indeed be zero percent.

 

Attendance: Attendance is expected and assumed. However, where attendance is a problem, deductions in final grades will ensue. Should life exigencies necessitate more than one or two absences, please do discuss your situation with me. Otherwise, deductions associated with absences are as follows:

3 absences or less: no official deduction (although the more you’re present, the more you

can participate)

4 absences: 3% deduction from final grade (note this deduction is from the final

semester grade and not from participation grade)

            5 absences: 7% deduction from final grade  

6 absences: 12% deduction from final grade

7 absences or more: 20% deduction from final grade

 

***Lateness: Related to attendance is the issue of lateness. My response to chronic lateness will be to count a person over 5 minutes late as “absent”.

 

Paper Option: I will consider granting students the option of substituting a semester paper for the final exam. If students are interested in this option, they should approach me with their initial idea for the paper by no later than October 30.

 

Papers would be approximately 25 pages (double-spaced, 1-inch margins). Literature reviews (e.g. synopses, overviews, or descriptions of the current literature) will not suffice. Rather, I will only approve paper ideas that I consider a contribution to the current literature. Your proposed paper may begin with a literature review, but it must also promise an assessment of how that literature might be improved, extended, or combined with some other theoretical framework to produce a new model or way of looking at things. I must be convinced that there is something novel in your proposed paper; it must involve you in crafting your own argument (rather than conveying the arguments of others). My litmus test will be: would such a paper stand a good chance of being accepted to the Academy of Management Annual Conference or The Southern Management Association Annual conference? 

 

I recommend this option primarily for students with an interest in pursuing graduate study in management or a proximal discipline. It will entail more work than the exam option (but also promises to be more rewarding). It will entail reading beyond the assigned text and articles. That said, if your interest in writing a paper is strong, but you are having trouble developing a novel idea, I will work with you to do so. I recommend approaching me as soon as possible if you are inclined toward the paper option.

 

Course Evaluations: Agnes Scott is moving to an online course evaluation system. Near the end of the semester you will be notified by e- mail and provided with a link to follow to complete the evaluations on line outside of class. I want you to know that your feedback on the course is extremely valuable to me, the department, and the administration.  In particular, I take your comments very seriously and use them to improve the course the next time I teach it. Please do fill out a course evaluation when you receive the e-mailed link at the end of the semester.

 

Agnes Scott College seeks to provide equal access to its programs, services, and activities for people with disabilities. If you will need accommodations in this class, please contact Machamma Quinichett in the Office of Academic Advising (X6150) to make complete the registration process. Once registered, please contact me so we can discuss the specific accommodations needed for this course.

  

 

 

COURSE SCHEDULE

 

T          8/28     Course Introduction   

 

T          9/2       Chapter 1: Why Study Organization Theory? (Please read as well the 1-page

newspaper article “One Man’s Battle”)

TH*     9/4       Article: Pfeffer, 1993. “Barriers to the Advance of Organizational Science:

Paradigm Development as a Dependent Variable.” Academy of Management Review, 18: 599-620. [Reaction Paper 1]

 

T          9/9       Chapter 2: A Brief History of Organization Theory

TH*     9/11     Article: Weick, Karl. 1988. “Enacted Sensemaking in Crisis Situations.” Journal

of Management Studies, 25: 305-317. [Reaction Paper 2]

 

T          9/16     Chapter 3: Organization & Environment

TH*     9/18     Article: DiMaggio & Powell, 1983. “The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional

Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields.” American Sociological Review, 48: 147-160.

Article: Ahlstrom & Bruton, 2001. “Learning from Successful Local Private Firms in China: Establishing Legitimacy. Academy of Management Executive, 15: 72-80. [Reaction Paper 3]

 

T          9/23     Article: Hannan & Freeman, 1977. “The Population Ecology of Organizations.”

American Journal of Sociology, 82: 929-64.

TH*     9/25     Article: Astley & Van de Ven, 1983. “Central Perspectives and Debates in

Organization Theory.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 28: 245-273 [Reaction paper 4]

 

T          9/30     Chapter 4: Organizational Social Structure

TH*     10/2     Article: Martin, 1990. “Deconstructing Organizational Taboos: The Suppression

of Gender Conflict in Organizations.” Organization Science, 1: 339-59. [Reaction Paper 5]

 

T          10/7     Article: Weick, 1976. “Educational Organizations as Loosely Coupled Systems.”

                        Administrative Science Quarterly, 21: 1-19

TH*     10/9     Article: Hedberg, Nystrom, & Starbuck, 1976. “Camping on Seesaws:

Prescriptions for a Self-Designing Organization.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 21: 41-65

Article: Probst & Raisch, 2005. “Organizational Crisis: The Logic of Failure.” Academy of Management Executive, 19: 90-102. [Reaction Paper 6]

 

T          10/14   Article: Cohen, March, & Olsen, 1973. “A Garbage Can Model of Organizational

Choice.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 1-25 (I’m only asking you to read the first 3 pages of this article)

Article: Lipson, 2007. “A ‘Garbage Can Model’ of UN Peacekeeping.” Global Governance, 13: 79-97.

TH       10/16   FALL BREAK

 

T          10/21   No reading due today. We will watch a video in class called “Competing

on the Edge”

TH*     10/23   Article: Pascale, 1984. “Perspectives on Strategy: The Real Story Behind Honda’s

Success.” California Management Review, 26: 47-72. [Reaction Paper 7]

 

T          10/28   Chapter 6: Organizational Culture

TH*     10/30   Article: Hatch, 1997. “Irony and the Social Construction of Contradiction in the

Humor of a Management Team.” Organization Science, 8: 275-288. [Reaction paper 8]

 

T*        11/4     Article: Barney, 1986. “Organizational Culture: Can it be a Source of Sustained

Competitive Advantage?” Academy of Management Review, 11: 656-665.

Article: Barney, 1991. “Firm Resources and Sustained Competitive Advantage.”

Journal of Management, 17: 99-120. [Reaction Paper 9]

TH       11/6     Chapter 7: The Physical Structure of Organizations

 

T*        11/11   Article: Alvesson, 1990. “Organization: From Substance to Image?” Organization

Studies, 11: 373-394. [Reaction Paper 10]

TH       11/13   Chapter 8: Organizational Power, Control, and Conflict

 
T*        11/18   Article: Martin, Knopoff, & Beckman, 1998. “An Alternative to Bureaucratic

Impersonality and Emotional Labor: Bounded Emotionality at the Body Shop.”

Administrative Science Quarterly, 43: 429-69. [Reaction Paper 11] 
TH       11/20   Chapter 10 New Directions in Organization Theory (brief section on

Complexity Theory, pages 330-332)

Article: “Organizational Emergence: The Origin and Transformation of Branson,

Missouri’s Musical Theaters.” Organization Science, 15: 499-519

 

T*        11/25   Article: Cummings & Angwin, 2004. “The Future Shape of Strategy: Lemmings

or Chimera?” Academy of Management Executive, 18: 21-36.

Article: Lashinsky, 2006. “Chaos by Design: Google”. Fortune, Oct 2, 2006.

Article: Lewis, 2006. “Texas Instruments’ Lunatic Fringe”. Fortune, Sept 1 2006.

[Reaction Paper 12]

TH       11/27   THANKSGIVING

 

T*        12/2     Article: Bacharach, 1989. “Organizational Theories: Some Criteria for

            Evaluation.” Academy of Management Review, 14: 496-515. [Reaction Paper 13]

TH       12/4     Exam Review

 

 

Final Exam Period: Thursday 12/11 – Tuesday 12/16

 

 

 

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