Course Title: Understanding Organisations

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Understanding Organisations

Credit Points: 12

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


660H Grad School of Bus and Law


Sem 2 2007,
Sem 2 2008,
Sem 2 2009,
Sem 2 2010

Course Coordinator: Michael John Segon

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 5950

Course Coordinator

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

There are no prerequisite courses. However, you are expected to have knowledge of management theory and practical experience of organizations. This course should also be seen as a key partner to strategic management and organisational change courses.

Course Description

The course aims to deepen your understanding of the relationship that exists between organisational design, culture and the change process. A primary theme is management theorist Henry Mintzberg’s hypothesis of fit. That is, organizations need to have a considered approach to designing their structure to ensure fit between the internal resources and components and their external environment. This course is holistic and strategic in nature. It will also focus on the ways managers can influence organisational structure and culture, and in turn, be influenced by those organisational elements. You will also be introduced to a range of diagnostic tools to aid in identification of problems arising from the use of inappropriate organisational designs and effectiveness approaches.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

At the conclusion of the course you will be able to

Understand the various influences on an organization that result in its choice of structure and resulting culture; and

Identify organisational culture characteristics, classify that culture and determine the extent of alignment with the organisational structure

At the completion of this course you will be able to:

Be able to describe the key dimensions of an organization’s structure utilising appropriate terms and concepts.
Determine the level of fit between organisational structure and the organization’s context
Analyse organizations, identify performance problems and make decisions about structural and cultural changes necessary for solving identified problems.
Have developed their skills in written communication, group interaction, objective setting and library use.

Overview of Learning Activities

Weekly classes, and some weekend classes are the context in which you explore issues related to organisational structure, design and culture. You are expected to discuss your own experiences working in organizations and engage in class discussions. Facilitated learning approaches are used in each class including the use of case based analysis. You will be expected to present findings of their deliberations in formal and semi-formal classroom presentations.

The focal strategy utilised in the whole course is the Co-operative Learning Network (CLN). This represents a project team whose members carry a dual responsibility. Firstly, CLN members carry a responsibility to the team for the learning and development of each member, and secondly, a responsibility for their own personal learning.

Overview of Learning Resources

The full course information documents details prescribed and recommended texts. Students enrolled in this course have access to an extensive DLS site which features course overviews, learning objectives for each topic, downloadable PowerPoint slides and links to recommended readings.

Overview of Assessment

You are required to submit individual and group reports and make formal presentations in class. An individual essay allows you to delve into an aspect of organisational theory and its relationship to performance whist the group paper encourages the development of analytical mindsets identified the dysfunctional impact of misaligned organisational structure.