UNDERSTANDING ORGANIZATION: THEORY AND PRACTICE

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UNDERSTANDING ORGANIZATION: THEORY AND PRACTICE

Australia Postal Company (AusPost)

Introduction

Organizational structures, behaviours and processes are interpreted through organizational theories. Therefore, companies like the Australia Post can be evaluated and understood through the lenses of theories such as resource- based and contingency. The situational organizational theory is based on the belief that there are no universal management strategies which are suitable for all situations but each situation requires unique management strategy. Therefore, this theory asserts that there is interaction between organization systems and the environment. Situational or contingency theory asserts that various environments or situations require various organizational relationships or strategies in order to get high levels of effectiveness and efficiency as well as to consider various environmental factors such as political, economic, social, and technical factors. Resource- based theory on the other hand, is based on the belief that resources are valuable, difficult to imitate, difficult to substitute, and rare. This theory asserts that organizations using resources effectively achieve high competitiveness and are more competitive in the market than others.

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Description

The Task:
You have to write an Essay using two organizational theories to analyse an organization of your choice.
The central idea is to demonstrate your understanding of organizational theories by applying them to
a concrete context and, at the same time, develop an appreciation of the value and of the limitations
of these theories and understand the need for personal discernment and judgement in evaluating the
differences and variations in those perspectives. UNDERSTANDING ORGANIZATION: THEORY AND PRACTICE.
In other words, we need you to develop an understanding of the complex nature of organisations and
related management issues – i.e. as seen from multiple but often contested perspectives – for
example, from the views of executives, middle and front-line management, shareholders, employees,
and broader community. The purpose is to recognise diverse and contested complexity in practical
context, i.e. through the analysis of your chosen organisation (irrespective of size, location or sector).
You are particularly recommended to choose an organization that is in a state of crisis (in the
etymological sense of ‘decisive moment’). For instance, it could be an organization that is considered
spectacularly successful; or an organization that was once thriving and it is now on the verge of
bankruptcy; an organization that has been involved in some corporate scandal or that has come under
public scrutiny; an organization that is undergoing a dramatic transformation; an organization with
unusual structure/practices etc. Focusing on this issue/challenge you can apply an appropriate theory
to ‘make sense’ of the situation, shedding light on its causes and possible consequences, also reflecting
on what can be done about it. UNDERSTANDING ORGANIZATION: THEORY AND PRACTICE.
Recommended essay structure
• Introduce the topic of your essay, your case organisation (very briefly) and outline the major
themes you will be discussing (approx. 150 words)
• Briefly describe your chosen organisation via available facts (approx.300 words):
✓ Industry (e.g. service, manufacturing) and location(s) (local; international)
✓ Sector (business, not for profit enterprise, government agency)
✓ Number of employees
✓ Ownership and Management structure (e.g. family based, publicly owned – shares,
not for profit)
✓ How long this organisation has existed/current level of success or failure
✓ What is the key issue or characteristic that makes this organization interesting (i.e.
why did you choose it)?

• Select two Organisation Theory frames/lenses discussed in the lectures/tutorials before the
break. Why did you choose these lens? (approx.. 250 words). UNDERSTANDING ORGANIZATION: THEORY AND PRACTICE.
• Summarise the relevance of TWO seminal or highly influential papers within EACH of the
Organisational Theories you have nominated (approx. 400 words). That is, in about 400
words summarise key points of four major papers that have helped shape your views about
these Organisation Theories. To identify these papers, start with the seminal papers
presented by Miles, 2012 and/or the other suggested textbooks for each of your chosen
lens/frames; you can also perform a search using Google scholar and considering highly cited
papers (i.e. with more than 500 citations) discussing these theories. That will take you into
the UTS library data bases and or (but ideally) a conversation with a librarian about how to
source specific reference works. If you are still unsure about the relevance/importance of a
source, contact your tutor or the subject coordinator for further advice

21512 Understanding Organisations: Theory & Practice AUT2017
Assignment 1 – Briefing sheet

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• NOW: What management and/or organisation issues do these two theories (you’ve
selected) now help you to see? Please describe some of those issues. (approx. 500 words)
• What are the limitations of each of the Organisation/Social theories you’ve selected in
illuminating key organisation issues? (approx. 200 words)
• Very briefly anticipate differences in perspectives associated with those selected theories?
In other words, can you identify/of if not, imagine, how other stakeholders might describe
the management and/or organisation issues they see with this same organisation? (200
words). UNDERSTANDING ORGANIZATION: THEORY AND PRACTICE.
• As a manager/leader (in development) what kinds of personal knowledge and capability do
you imagine will be needed to address these differences? This is an open ended invitation to
explore – there are no set texts for this question (approx. 200 words). Conclude your essay
with a brief overview of how the theories you selected apply to your case organisation, and
the lessons
• that can be taken from this for managers, and for yourself (approx. 150 words)
• All of the above woven into a single (academically persuasive) essay (with reader-friendly
headings). UNDERSTANDING ORGANIZATION: THEORY AND PRACTICE.
• Add Works Cited. (word count for this section not included)
Additional requirements
Length: 2500 words (+/- 10%) excluding references
Text formatting: Times New Roman or Arial font style with 12pt font size and 1.5 paragraph spacing
justified on each page. The report should not have more than two levels of headings.
Bonus marks:
Considering that some theories are more complex and sophisticated than others there is also a
bonus for those students who choose to meet the challenge. Here are the possible theoretical lenses
and the bonus points that will be added to the assessment mark for those who choose to consider
these theories (up to a maximum of 30/30):
• Scientific management (0 points)
Human relations (0 points)
• Contingency Theory (0 points)
• Power / organization politics (1.5 points)
Organizational culture (1 point)
• Agency theory (0 points)
• Transaction costs (0.5 points)
• Dynamic Capabilities (0.5 points)
• Neo-Institutional theory (1.5 points)
• Sense-making (1.5 points)
• Actor Network Theory (2 points)
Note: if you decide to use/cite more than 2 theories, only 2 will be considered to calculate the
bonus. UNDERSTANDING ORGANIZATION: THEORY AND PRACTICE.
[Please contact the subject coordinator if you wish to consider other theories not included in this
list, for instance theories that are discussed after the break, such as stakeholder theory, practice
theory, positive org scholarship etc.]. UNDERSTANDING ORGANIZATION: THEORY AND PRACTICE.

21512 Understanding Organisations: Theory & Practice SPR2017
Assignment 1 – Briefing sheet

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Further information
The essay must be written as “academically persuasive essay” (refer to the Essay Writing Guide that
you can find online here http://www.uts.edu.au/sites/default/files/business-writing-guide-2014.pdf
In particular look at:
✓ ‘Dimensions of Assessment’ pp. 4-6
✓ What “critical” means (Critical writing p. 11; Reading Critically p. 46);
✓ Examples of essay introductions pg. 19.
Please note: We are expecting you to access data that is broadly speaking already available – through
media, websites, personal connections. You are NOT expected to undertake detailed contact surveys
in this first assignment. UNDERSTANDING ORGANIZATION: THEORY AND PRACTICE.
Written report to be submitted via Turnitin.
A penalty of 10% (i.e. -3 marks) per day will apply to late submissions.
Assessment Criteria:
We will be looking for evidence of:
1. Understanding of the selected theories (10 marks):
a. Demonstrating a clear understanding of the theory by effectively summarizing and
explaining its central arguments and principles
b. Using and referencing relevant literature (seminal/influential papers and books
discussing the theories); while you can use the recommended textbooks and the lecture
slides as starting point for your investigation of the theory do not consider these as a
primary source (in particular never reference the lecture slides as a source!)
c. Critically assess the advantages and the limitations of the discussed theories (especially
in relation to each other). UNDERSTANDING ORGANIZATION: THEORY AND PRACTICE.

2. Capacity to critically analyse the chosen organization using the chosen theoretical lenses (10
marks)
a. Effectively describe the organization and its issues;
b. Choose appropriate/useful theoretical lenses to reflect on the case;
c. Demonstrate critical understanding of the situation and propose concrete actions (or if
nothing can be done, useful learning points for managerial practice)

3. Presentation and style (10 marks):
a. An effective essay structure: e.g. clear and appropriate structure, appropriate headings,
presentation (e.g. formatting)
b. Clear written expression and referencing. You should ensure that the essay has accurate
grammar, an academic tone that it is authoritative and concise (i.e. don’t use 1000 words
where 100 will do), and appropriate paragraphing
c. Accurate referencing style
Reference List
Use the UTS Harvard referencing guide. This includes EVERYTHING cited in the body of the essay. It
does NOT include other texts or sources you studied but did not refer to in the essay. Examples:
• Meyer, J. and Rowan, B. 1977, ‘Institutional organisations: formal structure as myth and
ceremony’, American Journal of Sociology, vol. 83, pp. 340-363. UNDERSTANDING ORGANIZATION: THEORY AND PRACTICE.
• Monash University, Language and Learning Online: Writing in Business & Economics, viewed 17
April 2014, <http://www.monash.edu.au/lls/llonline/writing/business-economics/index.xml>

21512 Understanding Organisations: Theory & Practice SPR2017
Assignment 1 – Briefing sheet

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Team work
Your work will be assessed individually but you are encouraged to collaborate with your study group
in its preparation, by exchanging information, discussing ideas, seeking feedback. One activity that
we particularly encourage you to perform is a peer review of your essay before submission: give
your essay to review to another member of your team (and do the same for them); use their
feedback to improve style, structure, content of your work before submitting.
However, remember that each individual essay must be absolutely original and its authorship
individual. Also make absolutely sure you are not re-using part of essays that you have prepared and
submitted for other subjects. This form of ‘self-plagiarism’ is considered academic dishonesty, it is
always discovered (thanks to Turnitin), and you will incur severe penalties. UNDERSTANDING ORGANIZATION: THEORY AND PRACTICE.

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UNDERSTANDING ORGANIZATION: THEORY AND PRACTICE

Australia Postal Company (AusPost)

Introduction

Organizational structures, behaviours and processes are interpreted through organizational theories. Therefore, companies like the Australia Post can be evaluated and understood through the lenses of theories such as resource- based and contingency. The situational organizational theory is based on the belief that there are no universal management strategies which are suitable for all situations but each situation requires unique management strategy. Therefore, this theory asserts that there is interaction between organization systems and the environment. Situational or contingency theory asserts that various environments or situations require various organizational relationships or strategies in order to get high levels of effectiveness and efficiency as well as to consider various environmental factors such as political, economic, social, and technical factors. Resource- based theory on the other hand, is based on the belief that resources are valuable, difficult to imitate, difficult to substitute, and rare. This theory asserts that organizations using resources effectively achieve high competitiveness and are more competitive in the market than others………..

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