The Human Factor in Sustainable Organisations

Module description

This module will introduce you to key concepts in organisation, including motivation, power, group dynamics, organisational culture and organisation structure, linking all these to the central core of leadership. You will become more familiar with how and why organisations work, and why some become dysfunctional and what to do about it. By the end of the module you should have a greater understanding of what one writer has called ‘our strange world of organisations’, how to make sense of them and how to manage them.

Internationalisation: all the examples and theories we discuss will have an international dimension, and we will pay close attention to national and cultural differences.

External Engagement: one guest speaker is planned, who will give his expert views on employee retention. Otherwise, the intention as the you should draw upon and share your own knowledge as far as possible.

Employability: understanding how organisations function is a pre-requisite to being able to manage them, and this module will help you reach a clearer understanding of the tasks managers face.

Sustainability: one of the aims of the module is to show how sustainability can only be achieved if organisations function well and harmoniously.

Full module specification

Module title:The Human Factor in Sustainable Organisations
Module code:MBAM808
Module level:M
Academic year:2014/5
Module lecturers:
  • Mr Morgan Witzel - Lecturer
Module credit:12
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 2:

4 day module (+ 8 study weeks)

Module aims

To successfully embed sustainability within an organisation requires a clear alignment of mindsets,

values, incentives, skills and behaviours right across the organisation, and not simply the introduction

of new policies and procedures.  Embedding sustainability is a challenge of culture and motivation

rather than process, and many of the key levers of change require new approaches to leadership,

management, training, performance management, recruitment and selection.  To be sustainable, a

business needs to be fit for purpose.  This module will introduce you to the nature and

characteristics of organisations.  It will examine  the role that people, structures, culture, group

dynamics, motivation, knowledge, leadership, power and control can all play in determining success for

an organisation and how leaders and managers can effect change towards sustainable outcomes. 

The module will also introduce different ways of analysing organisations, a critical perspective on

relevant management theory and practice, and frameworks which can be applied to resolve complex

managerial and organisational problems.  The module considers recent debates on resourcing and

talent management in different economic contexts. It is argued that recruiting, motivating and retaining

skilled employees is one of the primary challenges for long term success, the module provides a

critical review of tools to address these challenges. We will examine how effective alignment of culture,

incentives, behaviour and effective human resource management can lead to both competitive

advantage and a sustainable future.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Explain the nature of organisations and how they are managed.
  • 2. Identify different approaches and perspectives to organisational analysis.
  • 3. Explain and evaluate the issues of sustainability as they relate to organisations.
  • 4. Explain and evaluate the role of people, structures, culture, group behaviour, motivation,

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Compare different schools of thought in relation to organisation studies and aspects of human
  • 6. Critically articulate how different organisational perspectives imply different approaches to
  • 7. Be critical of organisational management theory and practice.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. Demonstrate effective skills in independent study, group work and written communication.
  • 9. Demonstrate effective skills in open-mind enquiry, critical analysis and reflection.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Contact Hours28Lecturers

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
In-class discussionsOf varying length throughout the module1 - 9Oral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Individual assignment1003,500 words1 - 9Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Individual assignmentIndividual assignement (100%)1 - 96 weeks after briefing

Syllabus plan

Introduction. Terms of reference.  The Tata Group Case.  Motivation: why do people join organisations;

what are the implications of our behaviour for the functioning of organisations; the individual and the

group: tensions between individualism and belongingness, the nature of work and issues of selection

and fit.  Organisational structure: what factors influence the choice of structure? What are the

consequences of decisions about structure?  Organisational culture: how do cultural factors

influence/inhibit the functioning of organisations? How can culture be managed and/or changed? 

Communications and knowledge: how important is knowledge to organisations? How is it created,

disseminated, used?  Leadership, power and control: how are organisations led? The implications of

power, and concepts in leadership for sustainability.  Managing people: the concept of the employer

brand.  The organisation and the world: stakeholder theory and its uses.  Vision and purpose. How do

we make organisations fit for purpose?

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Fincham R and P Rhodes (2005) Principles of Organisational Behaviour, Oxford: Oxford University


Handy, C (1993) Understanding Organizations, Penguin, 4th Edition.

Senge, P et al (2008) The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organizations are Working

Together to Create a Sustainable World, Nicholas Brealey.

Module has an active ELE page?


Origin date


Last revision date