Critical Organization Theory

Second year module

Lecturer: Kevin Morrell

This module provides students with an understanding of the role of organisational theory in the practical activities of managing and also in everyday life. The module introduces key theories, examines what they do, and explores the different philosophical underpinnings of various theories.

The module begins by looking at the nature of theory in the social sciences, and the relation of theory to practice. In particular, the module emphasises how management practice is influenced or shaped by organisational theories, and how our behaviour can be affected by the organisational theories in use in a variety of settings. The module then considers organisation theories that do not encourage a managerialist approach, such as labour process analysis and critical management studies.

Throughout, the module encourages students to see organisation theory in the managerial practices they are surrounded by: in addition, each week of the module takes a popular text from cinema, television or fiction to explore the ideas presented. Students are required to review one text as part of their assessment.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module the student should be able to:

  • Understand how organisation theory underpins management practice
  • Appreciate the practical applications that theories are put to
  • Analyse management practice and popular representations of organisation using relevant theory


One 2hr exam (70%); Assessed group presentation (30%)