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Employment and Workplace Change

Employment and Workplace Change

Linda Markowitz
Sociology 431
Spring Semester 2008
Peck Hall 0412 (11-12:15)

Office Hours:   T/TH 2- 3:30
Phone:   650-2451
Office Number:   1220 Peck Hall


Employment Relations Web Site:


In the contemporary global economy, most countries are either already industrialized or becoming industrialized.   An integral issue is how organizations can structure themselves to survive within an environment that’s becoming increasingly competitive and expansive.    Part of the goal of this class is to help you, as students and soon-to-be employees, understand both the structure of organizations and the environments in which they exist.    Only when you “see” organizations as part of a larger social web can you both 1) understand economic changes and 2) provide meaningful suggestions to ensure beneficial changes.

This class is one in a series of courses comprising the Employment Relations program.  In this course we focus on the employment, organizational and group dimensions of workplace change.
The books for the class try to understand the present organizational milieu in terms of “images” or “metaphors” which will help us “see” and understand employment and the workplace from different perspectives.   With the help of the images, we will attempt to critically assess the assumptions and practical viability of various organizational forms.

Course Objectives

There are two main purposes of this course: 1) to help you critically analyze, assess and apply how sociological images and concepts explain the position of organizations in the global economy.   2) to use this knowledge in preparation for sociologically examining your internship experience.


Major Texts

Gareth Morgan, Images of Organization, Sage (Chap)

Gareth Morgan, Creative Organization Theory: A Resource book. (RSR)



Exams:   There are three exams for the class that will be multiple choice, essay and short essay.  Essays will be done through take home format.  Short answer and multiple choice will be done in class.  Each test is worth 15% of your grade.

Pop Quizzes:   In order for the class to unfold smoothly, students must come prepared to class, having read the assignments and thought about the issues presented within the readings.  To facilitate engagement, there will be three pop quizzes throughout the semester of which you can drop one.  The remaining two quizzes will be worth 2.5% each (5% total).  All pop quizzes will be given the first 10 minutes of class and cannot be made up if you are tardy or absent.

Group problem solving: Half of the class sessions, we will be breaking up into problem-solving groups.  These groups will use the Resource book (RSR) to complete questions and exercises over required readings during class time.  Someone from the group will act as the scribe for the group.  This person will take neat, concise and organized notes about how the group completed the in-class assignment.  The in-class assignments will then be handed in at the end of the class period for a grade.  Each group will write down the first and last names of the members present for the discussion.  These grades will count towards your group grade.  This means that everyone should bring their books to each class session   Your grade will be calculated by 1) taking the average grade of the combined assignments and 2) by having your group members assess your participation in group discussion (8% total).

In addition to having a group scribe, each student will be required to play the role of  facilitator.    As facilitator,  your role is to a) get all members of the group to participate b) help ensure communication c) make sure noone dominates or withdraws from the activity and d) write a two page report of the group’s analysis of the problem or case (see below, facilitation paper). e) Fill out an evaluation form of your group members and submit it along with your paper.  The form can be downloaded from Blackboard.  This means you will have to pay careful attention to the readings on the day you are assigned to facilitate and to the discussion by your group members.   You will be facilitator at least twice during the semester (3.5 each or 7% total).

Facilitation Paper: When you type up this assignment, you will write your report like an essay. You will NOT write a paper about chronological events: Thus it would be wrong to write a paper like:   We started out the group by me asking how everyone enjoyed the readings.  A few of us were tired so we yawned.  But then Dawn said, “Wow.  It was great.”

Instead, your paper will be written like an analysis.  Something like:    Our group discussed the three aspects of politics: conflict, interests and power.  We discussed how conflict will always exist in an organization that creates scarce resources.  This is because when more than one person wants the same thing, they will compete for it.  Eventually, power will be used to resolve the conflict.  For instance, in the Apple article,....”

Sometimes we may only have a chance to discuss one article from the readings.  In those cases, you will still want to integrate the other articles we did not discuss into the essay.  Again, your job is not to summarize but to write a cohesive essay that makes a point about the metaphor for the week.  You will use the articles to support your points.

As a group participant (member who is not facilitating) you are still required to pay attention to the readings.  You are responsible for attending class, reading the assigned material, acting as a scribe when it is your turn and discussing the topic with your group.  I will include your participation in the professionalism grade (see below).

Professionalism -- Students often claim they come to college to gain the skills necessary to succeed in the world of paid work.  Learning to think and write are two of the most important skills you will gain.  However,  it is important to also attain the skills of professionalism.  These skills involve (but are not limited to):  Coming to class on time; coming to class prepared; handing in assignments on time; not requesting a stapler, printer or other accoutrement to complete an assignment;  not requesting time extensions; speaking respectfully to myself and other students in the class.  Professionalism will account for            10% (of total)

Analytical Paper --   Each student is required to write an analytical paper applying the different metaphors and theoretical frameworks to a job/employment context of interest to you.  The paper is to be 10-12 pages.  Parts of the paper will be due throughout the semester. I will edit the papers and students will correct them for the final draft.  All corrections will be turned in with the final draft.   The paper will be further explained on the bottom of the syllabus.  The assignments and the final paper are worth 25% of your grade.

Lateness and Absence --   Given that professionalism is a large part of your grade, your presence in class will be deeply affected by lateness and absences.  Any problems students have arriving to class must be communicated to the professor prior to tardiness and absence or as soon as possible after.   TESTS cannot be retaken if you do not inform the professor prior to the test.

Course Schedule   Chap=Text/ RSR = Resource book

Jan      15        Introduction
17        Chap 1, RSR 21

22        Chapter 2, Organizations as Machines
24        RSR: 22, 23, 24, 25, 76, 77

29        Chapter 3, Organizations as Organisms

31     RSR: 27,32 78

5          Know RSR above AND 79

FEB     7         Contrasting Machines and Organisms
RSR: 35, 80
Take home essay questions are now available on Blackboard

12: EXAM 1

14        Chap 4,  Organization as Brains
19        RSR 40, 41 and 46
21        RSR 47 and 49

26        Chap 5, Organizations as cultures
28        RSR 50, 51, 52 and 85-87

MAR   4          SNOW DAY

            6          RSR above AND 88-90          

SPRING BREAK!!!!!!!!!! (10-16)


20        Chapter 7, Organization as psychic prisons


 27       Learning Organization: Brain, Culture, Psyche

APR    1           EXAM 2

Apr      3          Chap 6, Organizations as political systems
            8          RSR 57,  60, 62, 63, 65
 10       RSR 92, 94, 95, 98 


            15        Chap 9, Organizations as Domination
17        RSR 56, 69, 72, 73, 107, 109,

22        WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR (no facilitators)

24        Chap 8,   Organizations as flux and change.
29        Continued

May     1          Chapter 11 (facilitator IS appropriate on this date) FINAL PAPER DUE       


Final: Wed, May 7TH AT 10:00

Analytical Paper


The purpose of the paper is to apply concepts and images learned in class to a job/work experience of your choice and to recommend changes to the organization which logically flow from your analysis.  For some examples of how you might approach such an analysis, read the case presented in Chapter 11 of Images as well as check out the papers for 431 and 433 on the website:

Please refer to the handout on “How to write a paper” to help you organize the concepts and paper appropriately.

Guidelines for the papers are as follows: 1)  margins should be the default of the software program.  If it is too narrow, you will be docked. 2)  All papers must be double-spaced (no more or no less).  3)  The first paragraph must begin no later than 2 inches from the top of the page. 4) Paper will be typed and  4) Papers must be 10-12  pages.  You will receive 10 points off for each guideline you do not follow.

Please be sure to incorporate the following information into the paper:

1) Select a job, employment or organization context familiar to you.
2) Provide a brief background description of your case, highlighting the key characteristics which will be important to your analysis.
3) Apply appropriate metaphors/images and concepts developed in class or in the books to your case.  You should use at least FOUR of the metaphors covered in class.  Application requires that you provide concrete examples from your case to illustrate your points.  THIS MEANS THAT YOU NEED EVIDENCE TO ILLUSTRATE YOUR POINTS!
4) Focus on specific problems that characterize your case which logically flow from your analysis
5) Suggest specific change strategies or actions raised in the readings and in class that would help your case solve problems and improve the organization.
6) Be sure to establish logic between your problems and solutions.

Criteria for evaluation

1) Systematic and accurate application of course material, using appropriate citations when referring to specific readings (text, page number)
2) Evidence that supports some of your claims within the paper (i.e., organizational charts, interviews or statistics, documents, observations, questionnaires, newspapers or journal articles).
3) Coherent and organized presentation of the information using correct grammar.
4) Student does NOT plagiarize!



Paper Outline for 431


1) Introduction (1 paragraph)---

2) Background/ History (1 page)

a) Give a History of the organization
b) discuss your role in the organization

3) Analysis (bulk of your paper and should include at least 4 metaphors) (7-8 pages)
a) Define the metaphor you are applying
b) Define the characteristics that make up the metaphor
c) As you define each characteristic, discuss how it is relevant to your organization, using evidence to persuade the reader that you are applying the concept accurately.

            Remember: You are analyzing the organization as a whole.  Not just your positions

Remember: Back all your claims up with evidence.  The evidence must be persuasive so that any reader believes your claims.

Remember: All concepts/metaphors must be explained and applied accurately, WITHOUT PLAGIARISM FROM YOUR TEXT OR NOTES.

Remember: Apply the concepts/metaphors in-depth so that readers understand the terms and are persuaded by your analysis.

4) Policy Recommendations (2-3 pages)

a) Stemming from your analysis, describe some suggestions that would help the organization function more smoothly.  Explain how your recommendations would help the organization

You could say something like:   “I have already mentioned some weaknesses of the organization.  These are a, b, c, d.   Some suggestions for change involve intergrating the holographic image from the brain metaphor and shifting organizational cultures.”

5) Conclusion (½ page)