In this introductory, self-paced course, you will learn multiple theories of organizational behavior and apply them to actual cases of organizational change.
Organizations are groups whose members coordinate their behaviors in order to accomplish a shared goal. They can be found nearly everywhere in today’s society: universities, start-ups, classrooms, hospitals, non-profits, government bureaus, corporations, restaurants, grocery stores, and professional associations are some of many examples of organizations. Organizations are as varied and complex as they are ubiquitous: they differ in size and internal structure; they can entail a multiplicity of goals and tasks (some of which are planned and others unplanned!); they are made up of individuals whose goals and motivations may differ from those of the group; and they must interact with other organizations and deal with environmental constraints in order to be successful. This complexity frequently results in a myriad of problems for organizational participants and the organization’s survival. In this course, we will use organizational theories to systematically analyze how an organization operates and can best be managed. Organizational theories highlight certain features of an organization’s structure and environment, as well as its processes of negotiation, production, and change. Each provides a lens for interpreting novel organizational situations and developing a sense for how individual and group behaviors are organized. Theories are valuable for the analyst and manager because most organizational problems are unique to the circumstances and cannot be solved by simple rules of thumb. Armed with a toolset of organizational theories, you will be able to systematically identify important features of an organization and the events transforming it; choose a theoretical framework most applicable to the observed mode of organizing; and use that theory to determine which actions will best redirect the organization in desired directions. In sum, the course has three goals: to become familiar with a series of real-world organizational phenomena; to learn different theoretical perspectives that can elucidate these phenomena; and to apply these different ways of “seeing” and managing organizations to cases. In such a fashion, the course is designed to actively bridge theory and practice, exposing students to a variety of conceptual tools and ways to negotiate novel situations.