The Secret Life of Organisations

Subject MGMT90160 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

July, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 03-Jul-2015 to 07-Aug-2015
Assessment Period End 07-Sep-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 10-Jul-2015
Census Date 17-Jul-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 14-Aug-2015

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24 hours (intensive)
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours


Must be enrolled in the Executive Master of Arts program

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects:

Students who have completed subject ANTH90003 Working the World can not enrol in this subject.

Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Prof Bill Harley, Prof Peter Gahan


Phone: 13 MELB (13 6352)

Subject Overview:

This subject examines the ‘secret life of organisations’ using a range of disciplinary approaches to the different functions and structures of corporate, government and non-government organisations Students will examine the history of organisations and the nature of work people do within them. They will also consider how distinct types of organisations have reacted and adapted to what the sociologist Richard Sennett has called the ‘new capitalism’—the growth of non-traditional organisational structures, and a broader shift to a knowledge-based service economy. At the same time students will grapple with the practicalities of how to work in such organisations, by considering the strategies managers use to pursue organisational goals, and how such organisations are best negotiated by workers to exert influence and show leadership within them. Students will develop an understanding of the history and structure of the sociological ‘field’ of modern organisations, and a practical grasp of how best to make their way in the world of work.

Learning Outcomes:

Students who complete this subject should have:
• A critical understanding of the key concepts, definitions and history of organisational theory;
• A critical understanding of the key differences between different types of organisations and the different imperatives that drive decision making across the range of organisational types;
• A deep understanding of the challenges facing organisations and their staff in a time of rapid change;
• The practical capacity to critically apply organisational theory in different workplace settings.

  1. Development and presentation of a group project, 2,000 words (40%) due during teaching period.
  2. Evaluation of an existing organisation - 3,000 words, (60%) due 4 weeks after end of teaching period.

Assessment Extension Policy and Special Consideration

If circumstances beyond your control have severely hindered your ability to complete assessed work, you can ask for an extension of the due date for that work. The marks you receive will not be raised to take account of your difficulties. Assessed work is graded 'on merit'. How you ask for an extension depends on the length of time for which your work is delayed:

A. Permission from the subject coordinator of the subject you are studying For extensions of up to 10 days, you must seek approval from the coordinator of the subject. Except in unusual circumstances, you must speak to him or her before the due date for the work and provide an extension form, which can be downloaded here. These forms should be filled in and given to the subject coordinator before the submission date. Extensions will not be granted after the due date has passed. An individual extension request must be made to each subject coordinator.

B. Special Consideration

For extensions longer than 10 days you must apply for Special Consideration from the Faculty of Arts. This applies to work affected by circumstances that are:

  • Unavoidable
  • Unforseen,
  • Outside your control
  • Not primarily your fault

If your circumstances fit this pattern you should apply for Special Consideration through the Student Portal. You will have to provide documentation to back your request. Details about this documentation, and further details about the process are given on the Student Portal and at the Faculty of Arts Special Consideration webpage. The Faculty will then will tell subject coordinators by email of the outcomes of your application for special consideration. In severe cases affecting multiple subjects, it is also advisable to contact the EMA Course Coordinator.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be made available to students through the subject’s LMS site.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who complete this subject should have:
• High-level written and oral communication skills through contribution to class discussions and the completion of assignments;
• A capacity for effective teamwork through group discussions and assignments;
• Skills in research through the preparation of class papers and assignments, including the use of online and print-based materials;
• Skills in time management and planning through managing workloads for recommended reading, tutorial presentations and assessment requirements;
• A capacity for critical thinking and theoretical analysis through readings, discussion and class exercises.

Links to further information:
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 point program - full time over 12 months
150 point program - full time over 18 months
200 point program - full time over 18 months
200 point program - full time over 24 months

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