course description - NUS Business School

National University of Singapore
NUS Business School
MNO3303 Organizational Effectiveness
Dr. Serden Ozcan ([email protected])
Office hours: Thursdays 12:30-15:30 or by appointment
Tuesdays 08.00-10.30 (Section 1) Room: [email protected]
Tuesdays 14.00-16.30 (Section 2) Room: [email protected]
Organizations are everywhere around us: They are sources of jobs, learning,
innovation, business models and markets. They regulate, (re)construct and shape
economic activities, socio-economic relations and social behavior. Organizations
organize our lives. What happens in them profoundly influence us as employees,
entrepreneurs, consumers, and citizens. But what are organizations? Where do they
come from? How do they set their goals? How are they structured? How do they
work? What makes them effective? Why are they so important in contemporary life?
This course introduces you to a variety of perspectives that can help you understand
these questions and as future founders, managers and decision-makers of
organizations develop systematic analytical capacity to predict, identify, make sense,
manage and respond to the emerging organizational needs and problems. When
doing so, the course draws upon several disciplines including management studies,
sociology, political science, economics and cognitive sciences. We emphasize both
the macro characteristics of organizations such as their structures, technology and
environment, and internal processes such as organizational culture, managerial
decision making, power, politics and intergroup conflicts.
By means of lecture, readings, class discussion, case studies and team projects, this
course will help you acquire an in-depth understanding of how organizations form,
operate, change, compete and survive in the face of rapidly changing environments.
More specifically, by the time you finish the course, you should be able to
 describe the key elements of organizational structure, design and processes
and define the interactions among them.
 explain the inter-relationships between the internal environment of an
organization and the economic, political, social, competitive and technological
forces in its external environment
 demonstrate knowledge of core theories of organizations by explaining their
assumptions, causal dynamics and processes and how suggested mechanisms
affect the choices or outcomes
command essential skills for successful managers, including problem-solving,
critical thinking, teamwork, group discussion, formal presentation and written
and oral communication.
In addition to these, I expect you to develop the knowledge and skills for
understanding, appraising and analyzing an organization’s need and capacity for
change and formulate a roadmap (e.g., prescriptions, action plans) to realign the
organization with the environment.
There is only one text for this course which the schedule and lectures follow. On top
of the textbook, there are also cases and short essays from various sources such as
Business Week, Economist, Wall Street Journal and Financial Times.
Daft, Richard L. 2013. Understanding the Theory and Design of Organizations. SouthWestern, Cengage Learning (11th edition).
We will explore theoretical and practical foundations for understanding modern
organizations using a variety of course materials including conceptual articles
for professional managers and real-life cases of business organizations. This
course emphasizes an integrative perspective linking contemporary problems
about organizational effectiveness and theories from academic perspectives in a
way that is interesting and enjoyable to you. This combination will also help you
develop the necessary skills to practice evidence-based management in your
future careers.
The lectures are designed to help you to expand upon theoretical ideas from the
readings. To get the most from this course, you are required to attend all lectures
and take your own notes. It is also essential that you participate in the class
Most of our time in class will be spent discussing the readings and the cases.
Discussions work best when students are prepared and are willing to engage in
debate with one another and with the professor. Learning opportunities are
maximized when all students are actively engaged in class discussion. Active
engagement means that you are listening carefully to the comments of the
professor and other students and seeking opportunities to make comments that
move the class discussion forward.
It is critical that you read the case and accompanying material for each session
prior to class. If you do not, then you will not benefit as much from class and you
will not be able to contribute to the discussion of the case. To assist you in
preparing for class, we list below a set of study questions for each session. To
make useful remarks in class, you need to have grappled with these questions on
your own. Focus your preparation on the major issues in the readings, such as the
premises underlying the theoretical arguments and implications for explaining
organizational actions. Your comments will be evaluated in terms of whether they
reflect a careful consideration of the material.
Your grade in this course will be based upon a combination of individual and team
efforts. The weighting of each of the components of the final grade is shown below:
Midterm exam:
Group project:
Class presentation:
Individual assignment:
Attendance and participation:
Midterm exam (20%)
The midterm exam will be closed book and closed notes. It will consist of multiplechoice, short answer and short essay questions. The exam questions cover the
textbook, the assigned cases, supplementary readings, and the content of our class
discussions. Midterm exam will take place in Week 6.
Individual assignment (20%):
The individual assignment requires you to analyze a significant problem that an
organization of your choice has faced in the past five years. Using the concepts,
frameworks and theories you have learned in this course:
identify the internal as well as external sources of the problem (5%)
examine how the organization dealt or failed to deal with this problem and
assess what they should have done better (7%)
analyze how the courses of action undertaken affected the design of the
organization (8%)
Please do not submit more than 15 pages (including references but excluding
appendix). Please use Times New Roman 12-point type, double-spacing, and leave
top and side margins of at least one inch. Individual assignments must be handed in
before the 21st of March.
Group project (30%)
The group project is a max 20-page report analyzing one of the questions below:
1) What makes a venture capital firm effective?
2) What makes a non-governmental organization (NGO) effective?
3) What makes a public sector organization effective?
Each group project should involve an empirical analysis in the context of an
organization of your choice. The organization does not have to be in Singapore and
you do not need to seek pre-approval from me. Please work in groups of five.
The group project is due April 4 latest 4.00 pm. Please submit one hard copy. Please
use Times New Roman 12-point type, double-spacing, and leave top and side
margins of at least one inch. Each member will be asked to complete a peer
evaluation form to evaluate the contribution of each of the other group members
(including your own contribution). These evaluations should be submitted together
with the project and they will feed into your grading.
Class presentation (15%)
Each group will present their project in class. Presentations are scheduled for Week
12. Each presentation will last 15 minutes and should cover the background and main
findings, identify the project’s unique contributions and weaknesses and offer
managerial and policy advice.
Attendance and participation (15%)
In-class contribution is an important part of our shared learning experience and will
be rewarded. To get a good grade, you must do the required reading in advance,
actively engage in the discussions and exercises, and come prepared to contribute
fully to other students. During discussions, the quality as well as the quantity of your
participation is important. Valuable comments are those that address the issues
under discussion directly, integrate concepts or different perspectives, demonstrate
critical thinking, provide relevant examples, or pose insightful questions. Individuals
will be often called upon, but most participation is voluntary. Please bring name tents
to class.
Please note that we will run guest lectures featuring high-profile individuals from the
professional and business world. Attendance to their lectures is mandatory.
If you need to miss a lecture for good reason, such as a medical situation, you should
notify me (in advance if possible), and you will not be penalized. A doctor’s note will
be expected in case of illness.
All students are encouraged to use the course website. I will post announcements
about any changes in the course, information on exams, and so forth on this site, so
you should check it regularly. In addition, the most current versions of course
documents will be posted there, along with the slides used in lecture. Please note
that the slides will not provide detailed summaries of the content covered in lectures,
so you should not regard them as a substitute for attending class.
Lecture and Readings Schedule
WEEK 1 (14 Jan)
Part 1: Course overview, course requirements, expectations and ground rules, tips for
successful projects and effective class presentation.
Part 2: Introduction to organizations
Daft Chapter 1
New York Times (2007) “In India, Grandma Cooks, They Deliver”
CNN (2008) “Mumbai’s Dabbawalas Still Serving Up Lessons in Lunch”
Video in Class: The Dabbawallas
WEEK 2 (21 Jan)
Goals, Strategy and Effectiveness
Daft Chapter 3
Google Initial Public Offering (IPO) Prospectus
Facebook IPO Prospectus
Twitter IPO Prospectus
WEEK 3 (28 Jan)
Fundamentals of Organization Design
Daft Chapters 2, 4, 5
WEEK 4 (4 Feb)
Organizational Culture
Daft Chapter 9
Bloomberg BusinessWeek (2013). The Secrets of Bezos: How Amazon Became
the Everything Store
WEEK 5 (11 Feb)
Organizational Decisions, Power, Politics and Control
Daft Chapters 7, 8, 11
Fortune (2012). How Hewlett-Packard Lost Its Way
WEEK 6 (18 Feb)
Mid-term Exam
WEEK 7 (4 Mar)
Organizational Change and Adaptation
Daft Chapters 10, 12
Forbes (2013). How General Motors Was Really Saved
WEEK 8 (11 Mar)
Organizational Environments: Globalization
Daft Chapter 5
HBS: Haier: Taking a Chinese Company Global
WEEK 9 (18 Mar)
Organizational Environments: Technology
Daft Chapter 6
Fortune Magazine (2012). Can Coda’s Electric Car Survive?
WEEK 10 (25 Mar)
Organizational Environments: Institutions and Social Movements
Daft Chapters 4, 6
HBS: Driving Towards a Disruption
WEEK 11 (1 Apr)
Organizational Environments: Inter-Organizational Networks
Daft Chapter 4
HBS: Yahoo: Relationship Crisis with Alibaba in China
WEEK 12 (8 Apr)
Group Presentations
WEEK 13 (15 Apr)
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