The Secret Life of Organisations

Subject MGMT90160 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

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

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

July, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 01-Jul-2016 to 05-Aug-2016
Assessment Period End 05-Sep-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 08-Jul-2016
Census Date 15-Jul-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 12-Aug-2016

This intensive subject is taught weekly over four weeks, beginning in July.

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24 hours – 4 x 6 hour seminars
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours


Admission into the MC-EMA Executive Master of Arts program.

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


Bill Harley


Peter Gahan


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:

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  • demonstrate a critical understanding of the key concepts, definitions and history of organisational theory;
  • demonstrate 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;
  • demonstrate a deep understanding of the challenges facing organisations and their staff in a time of rapid change; and
  • demonstrate 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.

Hurdle Requirement: Students are required to attend a minimum of 80% of classes in order to pass this subject.

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 successfully 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; and
  • a capacity for critical thinking and theoretical analysis through readings, discussion and class exercises.
Links to further information:
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: EMA 100 point program - full time over 1 year
EMA 150 point program - full time over 1.5 years
EMA 200 point program - full time over 1.5 years
EMA 200 point program - full time over 2 years

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