Introducing management and organisation studies: issues in undergraduate curriculum design.
This paper explores some of the theoretical issues involved in the process of designing introductory undergraduate courses in OB (organisational behaviour). The basis of reflection for this study is the authors’ recent experience at Lancaster University. It focuses on undergraduate introductory course design as a process in which we – as academics –come upon our own paradigm in a unique fashion. The paper outlines a preliminary critique of the Cartesian horizon of mainstream OB teaching, followed by an analysis of our own response to the challenge of introducing students to the study of management and organisations. The new course aims to convey, rather than obscure, the diversity of contrasting theories, models and epistemologies constituting the domain of management and organisational studies today. This paper is a commentary upon the conceptual bases underpinning our views. Taking a hermeneutic and phenomenological perspective, the resulting design works as a heuristic device meant to circumvent the limitations of traditional approaches – especially the tensions between theory and its practical relevance in business education, and the limited range of models presented as possible recipes for contingencies facing managers in modern organisations. This marks the authors’ departure from a fundamentally Cartesian split between learning subject and taught content (reified in theoretical ‘objects’ – models of ‘structure,’ ‘management,’ ‘organisation,’ etc.), towards a hermeneutic articulation of the human as subject of management and organisational processes both in study and practice.