Management and Business Decisions
Instructor: Marco Zamarian, marco.zamarian [at] unitn.it
The course aims to provide the concepts, methodologies and tools needed to understand and solve the main problems regarding people and relationships faced by junior and middle managers in companies operating in an international environment.
Upon completion of the course the student will be able to:
- Recognize and understand the main motives behind individual behaviour in corporate environments;
- Use combinations of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation levers to improve individual and group performance;
- Understand the complexity and the nuances of the management of groups composed of persons who are heterogeneous by cultural and technical background; cognitive styles, nationalities;
- Understand the main sources of conflict in small groups;
- Effectively use differences in small groups to produce original solutions to new problems;
- Effectively handle communication and decision-making in work contexts.
Knowledge of the essentials of basic organization theory is a prerequisite for attending the course. If you have never taken a course in organization theory before, any of these widely available manuals and books will offer you the essential preliminary concepts:
Hatch, Mary Jo, and Ann L. Cunliffe. Organization theory: modern, symbolic and postmodern perspectives. Oxford university press, 2013.
Daft, Richard L., Jonathan Murphy, and Hugh Willmott. Organization Theory and Design: An International Perspective. Cengage Learning EMEA, 2014.
Thompson, James D. Organizations in action: Social science bases of administrative theory. Transaction publishers, 1967.
McAuley, John, Joanne Duberley, and Phil Johnson. Organization theory: Challenges and perspectives. Pearson Education, 2007.
The course can broadly be divided into three parts: a model of individual behavior; a model of group and basic-interactions; a set of problems and managerial practices aimed at solving those problems in a corporate organizational environment. A brief outline of the topics covered in the course is the following:
- individuals in organizational contexts;
- groups and organizations
- organizational behavior as managerial practice:
- go to the Community titled "Organizational behavior" (registration required, contact the portal help desk for assistance)
- from the main menu select Education | Lesson diary
An active participation by each student is paramount, as the main goal of the course is that of building, alongside conceptual knowledge on the topics, a repertoire of practical techniques that can help the young professional in managing a small group of collaborators in the early stages of his/her career.
For these reasons, the course alternates, for each topic, a more traditional lecture aimed at introducing the main concepts related to the topic with classes requiring an active participation by the students. Active participation sessions will consist of activities such as debates around case-studies, role-playing, simulated exercises and presentations. Each of these activities is aimed at translating the theoretical concepts into practical knowledge that will then be applied immediately in class. In order to be able to fruitfully participate in and contribute to class activities, students are expected to have completed the readings before each class.
Verification of learning
The final grade (ranging from 1 to 30, according to the Italian University system) will depend on the following components:
- 50% final written exam
The final written exam will have the following structure:
Five open ended questions over all the materials of the course.
- 20% participation in class
The participation grade will depend on attendance,active engagement in class activities and contributions to class discussions. Mere perfect attendance will tipically result in a "pass" grade.
- 10% group presentation 1 after 4th week of class
- 10% group presentation 2 after 11th week of class
Presentations will be graded on the basis of organization, clarity of content, clarity of argument presented, and (specifically for the second round) creativity.
- 10% individual paper (5-7 pages technical report where you illustrate a problem you had to face during your work/classes and present a recommendation on a solution to your boss/lecturer)
MEC additional component. As students enrolled in the Master of Economics have to take the course for 2 extra-credits they have an extra assignment in the form of an individual project. Each individual project will need to be discussed with me and explicitly approved before you start working on it. Individual projects can be of two kinds:
A) Students involved in courses initiatives dealing with the practice of managing innovation (e.g. Start Up Lab, Contamination Lab, Innovation Olympics) can write up a paper illustrating an organizational behavior problem that has emerged during their activities. Good examples might be: group dynamics and composition, conflict among members of the team, personality clashes, problems related to the hiring or the dismissal of a team member, problems related to leadership and change.
B) All students can choose to develop a research project aimed at investigating/shading light on a specific OB topic that is NOT part of the common syllabus. Available topics include (but are not limited to):
a. Organizational citizenship
b. Task/Job/Organization identification
The is no standard textbook for this course. What follows is a list of required readings. You can obtain either a physical or electronic copy from the university library.
- Barrick MR, Mount MK. (1991). The Big Five personality dimensions and job performance. Personnel Psychology, 44,l-26.
- Caligiuri, P. (2000) The Big Five Personality characteristics as predictors of an expatriate's desire to terminate the assignment and supervisor-rated performance Personnel Psychology, 53, 67-88
- Harris, M. A., Brett, C. E., Johnson, W., & Deary, I. J. (2016). Personality Stability From Age 14 to Age 77 Years. Psychology and Aging, 31(8), 862-874. http://doi.org/10.1037/pag0000133
- Judge, T., J W. Boudreau, and R D. Bretz, Jr. (1994) Job and Life Attitudes of Male Executives. Journal of Applied Psychology Vol. 79, No. 5, 767-782 (up to page 771).
- Louis, ML (1980) Surprise and Sense Making: What Newcomers Experience in Entering Unfamiliar Organizational Settings Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 2 pp. 226-251
- Felson, RB (1981) Ambiguity and Bias in the Self-Concept. Social Psychology Quarterly 44: 64-69.
- Walsh, J.P. (1988) Selectivity and selective perception: an investigation of managers' belief structures and information processes. Academy of Management Journal 31(4): 873-896
- Maslow, AH (1943) A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50:370-396.
- Cohen, S.G. and Bailey D.E. 1997. What makes teams: group effectiveness research from the shop floor to the executive suite. Journal of Management, 23: 239-290.
- Hofstede, G. 1980. Motivation, Leadership and Organization: Do American Theories Apply Abroad? Organizational Dynamics, 2: 42-63.
- Rosenzweig, P. 1998 Managing the new global workforce: Fostering diversity, forging consistency. European Management Journal Vol. 16, Nr. 6, pp.644-652
- Pondy, L.R. 1967. Organizational conflict: concepts and models. Administrative Science Quarterly, 12:296-320.
- Eisenhart, K., J. Kahwajy, L.J. Bugeois III 1997. How management teams can have a good fight. Harvard Business Review: 111-121
- Thomas, A.B. 1988 Does leadership make a difference to organizational performance? Administrative Science Quarterly, 33: 388-400.
- Meindl, J.R., S.B. Ehrich, and J.M. Dukerich 1985. The romance of leadership. Administrative Science Quarterly, 30: 78-102.
Additional readings and material for case studies provided on the course website