Sociology of Organizations

Course content

Organizational sociology is a fascinating subject because it is applied science dealing with ’living people’. Within modern and thus highly differentiated societies most functions essential to the reproduction of society are carried out by organizations. Consequently, most people are involved in one or more organizations.
 

Theories about organizations are manifold, and considered in a historical perspective they have changed with the development of the industrial society. Consequently, it is important to consider their origins as well as their relationship to other research fields dealing with organizations such as economy and political science.
 

Within organizational theories, the analysis of the relationship between participants, structure, processes and culture is essential for understanding how organizations are able to achieve their goals. Organizations were by and large considered as closed systems during the first half of the 20th century, either as hierarchical industrial production or as administrative bureaucracy. However, the importance of the environment with regard to the development of the internal as well as external relationships of organizations has since been emphasised. Within the analysis of such open systems, the shift of perspective is mirrored in a wide range of organisational sociological positions today, i.e. institutional, action theoretical (RC), systems theoretical, structuration theoretical, cultural (symbolic interactionism and phenomenology) and feminist approaches.
 

During the course it will be demonstrated how these theoretical approached may be applied to various degrees when analysing different types of organizations. These organizations comprise industry, services, public administration, interest representation, states, transnational co-ordination (e.g. the EU), but also networks of so-called intermediate organizations between the welfare state and the marked (e.g. voluntarily work). The course will provide an illustration of the discussion of the different theoretical approached by drawing on existing empirical analysis of relevant types of organizations, ranging from kindergartens to states or transnational institutions. During the course the students will be encouraged to use a case when illustrating their discussion of one or more organisational sociological positions. Furthermore, the course is a part of an overall project, aiming at bridging between the university and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). This might be the case in the private, but also in the voluntary sector and often supported and mediated by public sector organizations.

Education

BSc/MSc Elective course

Course package (MSc Curriculum 2015):
Knowledge, organisation and politics
 

BA-Undergraduates from foreign countries (exchange students) can sign up for this course

NB!
Please be aware, that in BSc/MSc courses  you can ONLY join a group, if everyone in the group is registered for the same amount of ECTS.

Learning outcome

Knowledge:

By the end of the course and having completed the essential readings and activities students should be able to

a) demonstrate knowledge of core theories in the field of sociology of organizations

b) analyse organizations by application of relevant theoretical approaches

 

Skills:

c) assess how changes in organisational strategies, structures and processes influence on the achievement of organizational targets

 

Competences:

d) identify objectives for further studies in the field of organizational sociology, including comparative perspectives,

e) critically classify the position of organizational sociology in relation to its neighbouring disciplines.

Lectures including discussion. During the course, students will be encouraged to apply the acquired theoretical and methodological approaches on selected cases, e.g. by using some of the planed enterprise visits (Small and Medium sized Enterprises - SMEs), public sector organizations or voluntary organizations where meetings with managers or employee representatives will be organized. Students may expect to receive advice during the course, regarding the making of their individual portfolio assignment.
Students may expect to receive advice during the course, regarding the making of their individual portfolio assignment.
During the semester, students must hand in three working papers, e.g.
1. The question of investigation within the framework of organizational studies, including methodological and theoretical considerations (app. 3 pages).
2. The analysis and discussion of the question of investigation (app. 9 pages).
3. The conclusion and further perspectives (app. 3 pages).
Subsequently, the students will receive feedback after each working paper with the aim of improving their final individual portfolio assignment for the exam. The students will also be encouraged to present their topics and ideas in group discussions for the other students.

e-Compendium: Parts of the textbooks by Richard Scott and Mary Jo Hatch texts will firstly introduce to the overarching concepts, regarding structure, culture, management and change in organisations. Topics such as learning (e.g. Argyris & Schön), gender (e.g. Gherardi and Due Billing), networks (e.g. Walter Powell) and ANT (Porsander), the civil society (Habermann) will be discussed in the context of organisational studies. Finally, various further perspectives on organisations such as postmodernism (e.g. Alversson), systems theory (Luhmann) and radical critique (Türk) are included.

The extent of the course literature will be app. 1400 pages (15 ETCS) / 1600 pages (20 ETCS - gl. studieordning).

Basic knowledge in the field of sociology might be an advantage.

Kurset vil som udgangspunkt ikke blive udbudt igen. Du kan således ikke planlægge efter, at det udbydes i senere semestre, end hvad der fremgår af denne kursusbeskrivelse.

WORKLOAD
The number of lecture hours are the same for both 15 and 20 ECTS courses.

20 ECTS:
Lectures: 56
Course preparation: 187,50
Exercises: 20
Project work: 236,50
Exam Preparation: 50
Total: 550

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
ECTS
See exam description
Type of assessment
Portfolio
Individual or group. A portfolio assignment is defined as a series of short assignments during the course that address one or more set questions and feedback is offered during the course. All of the assignments are submitted together for assessment at the end of the course. The portfolio assignments must be no longer than 20 pages. For group assignments, an extra 10 pages is added per additional student. Further details for this exam form can be found in the Curriculum and in the General Guide to Examinations at KUnet.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Internal examiners
Criteria for exam assessment

Please see the learning outcome.

ECTS
See exam description
Type of assessment
Written examination
Individual/group. Free written take-home essays are assignments for which students define and formulate a problem within the parameters of the course and based on an individual exam syllabus. The free written take-home essay must be no longer than 20 pages. For group assignments, an extra 10 pages is added per additional student. Further details for this exam form can be found in the Curriculum and in the General Guide to Examinations at KUnet.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Internal examiners
Criteria for exam assessment

Please see the learning outcome.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 56
  • Course Preparation
  • 150
  • Exercises
  • 20
  • Project work
  • 186
  • English
  • 412