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Unit information: Organisation Theory in 2021/22

Unit name Organisation Theory
Unit code EFIM20026
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Mangan
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Management
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit aims to prepare students to engage critically with theories and issues related to ‘organisations’ and ‘organising’. It aims specifically to develop students’ abilities to explore the ways in which various forms of organisation theory both underpin and challenge common sense ways of viewing and managing organisations. The unit starts by addressing two important questions: What is organisation theory and why does it matter? The topics covered through the unit chronicle the development of organisation theory over time, from its early origins through to contemporary debates. Thus, we begin with modernist organisation theory, and subsequently explore neo-modernist, post-modernist, reflective, and reflexive organisation theories. We end by mapping the evolution of management onto the evolution of organisation theory, and by developing a critique of managerialism as a key component of organisation theory and practice. In all of this, our focus is on understanding how the different perspectives build on and/or depart from one another.

Throughout the unit, three key themes are emphasised. The first is the mutually constitutive relationship between management, organisations, and society. Thus, the aim is for students to understand that each organisation theory emerges from particular socio-historical contexts, generally in response to key social, economic, and political issues of the times. The second is that each organisation theory makes particular assumptions about such issues as society, human nature, the division of labour, the role of management, etc., and therefore provides a particular but necessarily limited lens on how social human endeavours ought to be organised. Thus a further aim is for students to understand that each theoretical lens is simultaneously a way of seeing and also a way of not seeing. The third theme is that of power and control: we see that one of the key threads common across all organisation theories involve questions of power and control. Thus a final aim is to track the ways in which power and control are variously mobilised, enacted, and resisted across a range of organisation theory perspectives.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Identify and describe a range of issues relevant to management and to the interplay between management and society.
  • Explain and discuss theoretical approaches to management.
  • Recognise different perspectives on management and appreciate the implications that each has both for managers and other organisational members.
  • Analyse and appraise management and organisational practice through the application of relevant theory.
  • Critically evaluate the theory and practice of management.
  • Students will learn transferable skills of problem analysis, argumentation, presentation, and team working through tutorial work.

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions including lectures, tutorials, drop-in sessions, discussion boards and other online learning opportunities.

Assessment Details

Summative: timed open book assessment (2000 words, individual assignment, 100%). Formative: 1000 word individual essay.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. EFIM20026).