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Assignment Requirements
The Question To Be Answered:
‘What managers most often want to know about their organization’s culture is how to change it……But what is recommended to managers on the basis of culture theory differs markedly according to the perspectives adopted’ (Hatch and Cunliffe, 2013: 185).
Choose two of the four perspectives and discuss their different views on organisational culture and how their advice to managers who are seeking to influence organisational culture might be different.
The four perspectives are, 1) Modernism 2)Critical Theory 3) Symbolic interpretive 4) Postmodernism
pick 2 out of 4 ( more into Modernism and Critical Theory)
Aims of the assignment
The aims of this assignment are for you to:
1. Develop your understanding of the nature of the key organisation perspectives and their related theories;
2. Demonstrate an understanding of the key perspectives and the meta-theoretical assumptions that underpin each;
3. Develop research skills and the ability to assess the strengths and weaknesses of various debates and arguments;
4. Gain skills in the written presentation of an argument, including the ways in which scholars incorporate and acknowledge the ideas of other writers.
Key Criteria for Assessment:
For this assignment your essay will be assessed on the extent to which it demonstrates:
• Your ability to conduct research and use it to develop an argument/answer that will discipline your response.
• Your ability to write a clear, compelling, well-presented and properly referenced response to the question.
• Your ability to directly respond to all of the key issues raised by the question asked.
• The ability to move past description to analysis; to move past a focus on who, what, when and how questions to also answer the associated why questions.
• The ability to provide your own answer to the question in your own words
Answering the Question:
In answering the question you will need to engage with the nature of the various perspectives and why and how each provides different insights into the nature of organisational culture. You will also need to explain how these different insights relate to management practice: How do the insights of each perspective lead to different recommendations to managers on how they might go about changing organisational culture?
You must focus explicitly on the key issues identified in the question.
You must consider at least two of the four perspectives.
1. You must make use of required readings. They have been selected because they provide the essential material required to answer the question. You will lose marks if you fail to use them.
Recommended readings have also been provided. Before you begin to look for additional reading you should first acquire a good understanding of the basics from the textbook, the required readings and recommended readings. Once you acquire this understanding you can then look for other material.
Required readings (located on blackboard site):
1.Chapter 6 and pp 311-318 (Hatch and Cunliffe) (Organisational Theory)
2.Fleming, P and Spicer, A. (2003) ‘Working at a cynical distance: Implications for power, subjectivity and resistance’
3.Wilson, F. (2014) ‘Chapter 11: Culture’ in Organisational Behaviour and Work, pp. 224-241.
4.Xu, Y., and Weller, P., Inside the World Bank, “The Staff and Their organizational Culture”, pp. 74-82.
Recommended readings (located on blackboard site):
1.Martin, J. & Frost, P. 2012, ‘Chapter 30: The organisational culture war games’ in Gittell, Jody Hoffer., Godwyn, Mary & Gittell, Jody Hoffer, Sociology of organizations : structures and relationships, Pine Forge Press/Sage, Thousand Oaks, Calif., pp. 315-336
2.Zhang, C. & Iles, P. 2014, ‘Chapter 11:Organisational culture’ in Rees, Gary & Smith, Paul, Strategic human resource management : an international perspective, SAGE, Los Angeles, pp. 383-439.
A failure to follow this and the following instructions will have a significant negative impact on your marks.
Presentation/Structure of your answer/essay:
In this section you must provide an overview of your answer to the question; provide answers to the key what and why questions of your argument/answer. These should take the form of direct responses to the key issues raised by the question. Your argument should be informed by a critical analysis/engagement with the content of the essential readings.
Please keep in mind that in all sections of your response you must move past description to analysis, this means providing answers to the why questions that emerge from your key statements.
Exploration of your argument:
In this section of the essay you need to accomplish two tasks.
First, you must explore the key perspectives showing how each perspective’s theoretical and metatheoretical approaches lead them to provide different insights into organisational culture.
Second, having demonstrated an understanding of the perspectives and their theoretical approaches to understanding organisational culture you then need to discuss how these understandings lead to different views on how best to manage or change organisational culture. In other words what does each of the perspectives have to say on this issue and why do they say it? What criticisms do they offer of each other and why?
You can address the above, two tasks sequentially; beginning with an exploration of the how and why of each of the chosen perspectives (ontology and epistemology), and second: an exploration of the positions advanced by two of the perspectives (modernist, symbolic interpretivist, critical theory and postmodernism) as they provide different advice to managers on how to go about changing or managing organisational culture. In your essay, you must consider at least two of the four perspectives.
An alternative structural approach is to integrate the exploration of the how and why of each perspective and how each provides different insights into the nature of organisational culture and how best to manage organisational change. For example; explore the how and why of the modernist positions on organisational culture and then its application to modernist positions for managing and changing organisational culture. . On completing the how and why of the modernist position and its application then move on to the other selected perspective.
The two alternatives outlined above will enable you to present a clear direct and disciplined response to the question.
The whole response must be informed by an engagement with essential readings. You must draw upon and evaluate academic debates and arguments. This is not to be viewed as an exercise in which you make up a response off-the-top-of-your-head nor is it one in which you focus on description and ignore analysis. While you may draw upon examples of organisational culture in actual organisations this should be done to illustrate differences in perspectives both theoretically and practically as they relate to understanding and managing organisational culture.
You must conclude with your general answer to the question. It should reiterate the key argument/answer to the question provided in the introduction and indicate to what extent it has been supported or challenged by your analysis of the debates and arguments of other authors.
Additional Guidance:
1. This essay is designed to develop your knowledge of the theoretical perspectives, to build your understanding that each perspective is underpinned by different assumptions that lead to different ways of understanding organisational culture. Given their ontological and epistemological underpinnings, each perspective has different ways of conceptualising how organisations and organisational culture intersect. Based upon these different understandings of organisational culture the advice each perspective provides to managers who are seeking to influence organisational culture is likely to be different.
2. This essay is not an exercise in describing various organisations and their organisational culture or how management goes about managing culture. You must demonstrate your understanding of the perspectives and how they relate to an understanding of organisational culture. If empirical examples of organisational culture within contemporary organisations are introduced they must be used to illustrate how they are informed by the theoretical perspectives.
3. Please use headings with care. It is better to avoid using them in an essay but if you must, please keep them to a minimum and ensure that they enhance rather than undermine your argument.
4. This essay question has been designed to encourage you to prepare your own individual essay. There is no single ‘right’ answer. Markers will be looking for evidence that you have read broadly, including the provided material, and have synthesised the material to develop your own answer/ argument. The markers will also expect you to answer the question in your own words.
5. Do not try to cover every single detail; you only have 2000 words so concentrate on the major points rather than fine details.
6. You can make use of the Web sources but they need to be reliable sources- Wikipedia is not a reliable source of information. We encourage you to make use of journal articles which can be found via a range of library databases. I suggest you use Expanded Academic ASAP (Gale) database which is located through the Databases section of the library website because it allows you to search a range of journals using keywords. Some of the keywords you should consider are: culture in organisations, organisations and modernism, organisations and symbolic interpretivism, organisations and critical theory, organisations and postmodernism, etc. You will find an enormous amount of relevant literature. You can also do author searches which can be helpful to locate recent articles by scholars mentioned in the textbook. We also encourage you to make use of the references and further reading suggested by the textbook at the end of each chapter. ‘Citation Linker’ found through the library website is a useful tool to locate some of the journal articles mentioned in the textbook. There is a lot of information out there regarding the topic.
7. Students are NOT allowed to use lecture notes as reference materials.
8. You should look at the assessment sheet found in the course guide. It will give you a feel for the sorts of things we will be assessing.
9. You should also look at the other part of the course guide which outlines the differences between the grades -i.e. what separates a ‘P’ from a ‘C’.
10. A key point to remember in answering the questions is not to be overly descriptive. In answering the question you will need to develop an argument. An argument requires ‘expressing a point of view on a subject and supporting it with evidence’ (see http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/argument.html) The basic components of an argument include:
• Making a claim (informed by relevant organisational perspectives and/or theories)
• Supporting your claim with evidence
• Recognising and engaging with counterclaims
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