PS446      Half Unit
Issues in Organizational and Social Psychology: Organizational Life

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Mr Barry Rogers, QUE.3.13 and Ms Elsbeth Johnson, QUE.3.13


This course is available on the MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology, MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology and MSc in Social and Public Communication. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Students on degrees without a psychology component may only attend subject to numbers, their own degree regulations and at the discretion of the Teacher responsible. This course is capped at 25 students.

Course content

In recent years, much has been made of the demise of the traditional work organisation and with it, traditional organisational life. In popular rhetoric, globalisation, the rise of the knowledge economy, ICT and the credit crunch have all trumpeted the dawn of a very different world. The reality of the situation would seem to be far more complex.

So how do we understand and explain this complexity? This basic question has prompted huge soul searching within the social sciences as comfortable assumptions about the analysis of our world have been shown wanting. For many the current behavioural 'turn' throughout many of our disciplines act as an alternative lens for making sense of our reality - this has as its core the tools and approaches of social psychology.

The aim of the course is to give a social psychological perspective on the elements of continuity and change surrounding contemporary organisational life. It will focus in particular on the blurring of boundaries within our key organizational relationships: with employees, customers, clients, and stakeholders. Its primary objective is to facilitate students in developing a critical and reflective understanding of these emerging processes.

The course is informed throughout by a dual mandate. A rigorous approach to theory will be developed within the context of contemporary organisational issues, and current topics of debate. This essential relationship between theory and practice is a central feature of the course - outside speakers and practitioners are used throughout to supplement the learning for each topic and various forms of social media are employed to connect with an extended community of practice.

The course will address emerging organisational questions such as:

Perspectives: how do we make sense of the complexity of organisational Life?

Why do we work? How do different generations engage with work?

The rise of the BlackBerry: have we moved from the workplace to the 24/7 workspace?

Organisational time: is work life-balance a pipe dream?

After multiculturalism where now for organisational equality, diversity and inclusion?

Corporate Social Responsibility: how do organisations relate to wider stakeholders?

Customer, client or 'partner'? Co-creation as the dynamic for growth.

Beyond the 'ivory tower': how do we relate organisational theory to practice?


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

One formative piece of coursework to be submitted in the LT.

Indicative reading

Detailed references and class topics are distributed in the first lecture of the series. The following represents some key readings from the course:

Beck, U. (2000) The Brave New World of Work. Cambridge: Polity Press; Berger, P. & Luckmann, T. (1967) The social construction of reality. London: Penguin; Clegg, S.R. & Kornberger, M.[eds.] (2006) Space, Organization and Management Theory. Copenhagen: Liber & Copenhagen Business School; Cortina, L.M. (2008) Unseen Injustice: incivility as modern discrimination in organizations. Academy of Management Review, 33, No. 1, 55-75; Flaherty, M.G. (1999) A Watched Pot: how we experience time. New York: New York University Press; Matten, D. & Moon, J. (2008) "Implicit" and "Explicit" CSR: A Conceptual Framework for a Comparative Understanding of Corporate Social Responsibility, The Academy of Management Review, 33, 2, 404-424; Matthewman, S. & Hoey, D. (2006) What happened to postmodernism? Sociology, 40, 3, 529-547; Morgan, G. (1997) Images of Organisation. London: Sage; Rapoport, R., Bailyn, L., Fletcher, J.K. & Pruitt, B. H. (2002) Beyond Work-Family Balance, Advancing Gender Equality and Workplace Performance. San Francisco: Wiley; Smola, K.W. & Sutton, C.D. (2002) Generational differences: Revisiting generational work values for the new millennium. The Journal of Organisational Behaviour, 23, Special Issue, June 2002; Weick, K.E. (2003) Theory and Practice in the Real World in: Tsoukas, H. & Knudsen, C. (2003) The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Studies; Weick, K. E. (1995) Sensemaking in Organisations. California: Sage.


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2015/16: 17

Average class size 2015/16: 15

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Lecture capture used 2015/16: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information