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Show critical awareness of historical, current and future developments in the field of OB Appreciate how the organisational context is influenced by social, political, cultural, technological and environmental factors

H11PW People, Work and Organisations Syllabus

Course Aim

The aim of the People, Work and Organisations course is for students to develop a detailed appreciation of factors influencing how people behave at work and how these link to performance. The course focuses on understanding individual differences, how these differences affect group dynamics and how organisational factors affect individual behaviour. At its core, the course aims to equip students with the skills and knowledge to positively impact on individual, team and organisational performance in a variety of dynamic organisational contexts.

Course Synopsis

The course examines a range of ideas that provide insights into how people behave at work and provide managers with the opportunity to apply theoretical principles to real life organisational issues.

These include understanding why people behave the way they do, what motivates people at work, how to develop and manage effective teams in diverse settings, how to design an effective structure and create a stimulating organisational culture, how to drive organisational change and leverage social networks, among others.

The course is divided into eight modules which introduce the key schools of thought in organisational behaviour (OB) before exploring how human behaviour at work is affected by individual, team and organisational factors. The course concludes with a detailed case study that allows students to draw on their knowledge of organisational behaviour and recommend interventions to improve performance. Throughout the course, students are encouraged to think critically about their role as managers and to reflect on their practice in light of relevant theory.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completion of this course students will be able to:

  • Show critical awareness of historical, current and future developments in the field of OB
    • Appreciate how the organisational context is influenced by social, political, cultural, technological and environmental factors
    • Explain the factors that affect workplace behaviour taking into account individual differences, group dynamics and organisational culture and design
    • Apply an understanding of workplace behaviour to diverse organisational contexts
  • Analyse workplace scenarios and recommend individual, group or organisational level interventions to improve performance
  • Critically evaluate the role of management and how management behaviour can impact on individual, team and organisation performance
  • Edinburgh Business School / HP11PW People, Work and Organisations

    Reflect on their own behaviour at work and the impact of their behaviour on others

Course Structure

The course is divided into eight learning modules as follows:

Modules covered are:

  • Understanding behaviour in organisations
  • Individual differences
  • Motivation and engagement
  • Work group dynamics
  • Power, politics and conflict
  • Designing effective organisations
  • Organisational culture
  • Organisational change

Module 1: Understanding Behaviour in Organisations

The aim of this module is to provide students with an introduction to organisational behaviour as a discipline, introduce some key perspectives on workplace behaviour and highlight the importance of understanding behaviour for those managing within organisations.

At the end of this module students will be able to:

  • Define organisational behaviour
  • Outline the key developments in OB as a discipline
    • Analyse the changing nature of organisations and organisational behaviour Topics covered are as follows.
    • What is organisational behaviour?
    • The relationship between OB and management
    • Key schools of thought (Classical school, Human Relations school, contemporary)
    • Contemporary influences on the world of work
    • Managing a global workforce
    • Managing in the 21st century

Module 2: Individual Differences

The aim of this module is to introduce students to differences in individual behaviour, how these impact on organisations and the contribution of diversity to organisational performance. Personality theory and personality testing will be the starting point of our examination of individual behaviour, followed by an exploration of concepts such as attitudes, values, and perceptions.

At the end of this module students will be able to:

Understand individual differences and how they impact on behaviour in organisations

  • Evaluate the utility of personality testing in the workplace
  • Critically discuss the role of effective diversity management in organisational performance.

Topics covered are as follows:

  • What affects our behaviour at work
  • Personality and personality assessment
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Attitudes and values
  • Perception and the perceptual process
  • Managing diversity
  • Neurodiversity
  • Psychological Capital

Module 3: Motivation and Engagement

The aim of this module is explore the concept of workplace motivation and provide an understanding of the organisational factors and practices that may impact upon employee satisfaction, motivation and, in turn, performance in the organisation.

At the end of this module students will be able to:

  • Describe the differences between theories of workplace motivation
    • Understand how performance management and reward systems impact upon individual motivation and performance
    • Recognise how job design systems affect employee motivation Topics covered are as follows:
    • Theories of motivation
    • Reward and motivation
    • Job design
    • Job crafting
    • Performance management
    • Work engagement
    • Job Demand-Resources model

Module 4: Work Group Dynamics

The aim of this module is to identify and explore what a group is and what makes a group a team. This module will look at why individuals feel the need to gather in groups and explore ways in which organisations promote teams and team-working. Having explored these general areas, we will then move on to looking into types of groups and teams and the stages of group development. The module will also discuss modern approaches to group working such as virtual teams before concluding by considering whether all team work is positive for both the individual and the organisation.

At the end of this module students will be able to:

  • Discriminate between different types of groups and teams
  • Appreciate the importance of teams for an organisation

Understand the dynamics of group performance, effectiveness and cohesiveness

  • The difference between groups and teams
  • Formal and Informal groups
  • Stages of Team development
  • Building effective, cohesive teams
  • Contemporary approaches to team working
  • The downsides of team working

Module 5: Power, Politics and Conflict

The aim of this module is to offer definitions of power, politics and conflict within organisations and help students understand mechanisms of power executions within organisations. It also provides students with analytical tools to help them understand culture-specific situations and equip them to better manage change and conflict at work.

At the end of this module students will be able to:

  • Identify different sources of power and understand the concept of powerlessness
  • Understand the relationship between power, politics and organisational change
    • Recognise that an understanding of culture-specific situations could help organisations better manage conflict

Topics covered are as follows:

  • Organisations as complex political systems
  • The different bases of individual and organisational power
  • Organisational politics
  • Managing organisational politics
  • Organisational conflict
  • Managing conflict

Module 6: Designing Effective Organisations

The aim of this module is to consider why it is important to understand organisational design and look at how different types of structures can drive individual and team behaviour as well as organisational performance. We will explore how theories and practice of structuring organisations have evolved in response to the changing environment before considering how organisations might be designed in future.

At the end of this module students will be able to:

  • Describe the elements that interplay when designing organisations;
    • Explain the major factors that influence structural design;
    • Compare and contrast different types of organisational structure.
  • STAR model of organisation design
  • Features of organisation structures
  • The importance of social networks
  • Bureaucratic and contingency approaches
  • Types of structures – vertical, horizontal and boundaryless organisations

Module 7: Organisational Culture

The aim of this module is to examine the effect of organisational culture on workplace behaviour, explore whether culture can be managed and understand the challenges of changing culture.

At the end of this module students will be able to:

  • Describe key features of organisational culture
    • Explain how organisational culture affects workplace behaviour
    • Identify levers that can be used to influence organisational culture Topics covered are as follows:
    • Features of organisational culture
    • Theories and typologies of culture
    • Can culture be managed?
    • Changing organisational culture
    • Leading cultural change
    • Organisational culture and ethics

Module 8: Organisational Change

The aim of this module is to explore different types of organisational changes, how people respond to change and how to effectively make change happen.

At the end of this module students will be able to:

  • Compare and contrast approaches to understanding change
  • Critique models of change management
    • Describe factors influencing the successful management of change Topics covered are as follows:
    • Factors triggering the need for change
    • Change management models
    • Emergent versus planned change
    • The human aspects of change
    • Contemporary approaches to managing change
    • Leading change initiatives


The course is assessed by final examination, accounting for 100% of the overall mark. A case study will be released to students prior to the exam. The exam will consist of a consultancy report relating to the case study, and two essay questions from a choice of three.

The paper is in two sections:





Consultancy report



Essay questions worth 20 marks each



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