Guide to the Assignment
Due date: To Be Advised
Length: 2,000 words
Aims of the assignment
The aims of this assignment are for you to:
- Develop your understanding of the nature of the key organisation perspectives and their related theories;
- Demonstrate an understanding of the key perspectives and the meta-theoretical assumptions that underpin each;
- Develop research skills and the ability to assess the strengths and weaknesses of various debates and arguments;
- Gain skills in the written presentation of an argument, including the ways in which scholars incorporate and acknowledge the ideas of other writers.
Criteria for assessment
For this assignment your essay will be assessed on the extent to which it demonstrates:
- Your ability to present a clear, compelling, well-presented and properly referenced argument.
- Your ability to respond directly to the key issues raised by the question.
- Your ability to engage with the work of other authors and extract relevant detail and explanation.
- Your ability to assess the arguments and debates of and between other authors and incorporate them into your response.
“In considering the influence that technology in general or any single technology has over human affairs, it is … necessary to consider not only the technology and its presumed “imperatives,” but also the key human agents of the technology, the organisations in which they operate, and how these influence the course of technological change” (Rudi, 257).
Select two of the four perspectives and discuss how they provide different insights into the relations between technology, organisations, management and employees.
Answering the Question:
In answering the question you will need to engage with the nature of the various perspectives and how each provide different insights into the relations between technology, organisations, management and employees.
You must focus explicitly on the key issues identified in the question.
You must consider at least two of the four perspectives.
A failure to follow this and the following instructions will have a significant negative impact on your marks.
This essay is designed to develop your knowledge of the theoretical perspectives, to build your understanding that each perspective is underpinned by different assumptions that lead to different ways of seeing or understanding organisations. Given their ontological and epistemological underpinnings, each perspective has different ways of seeing how organisations and technology intersect.
This essay is not an exercise in describing various technologies and how they are used by organisations, managers or employees.
There is a lot of literature available about how technology impacts on contemporary organisations. Do not get side-tracked into a descriptive discussion of technology-driven changes in contemporary organisations. Remember, the question is about the relations between technology, organisations, management and employees. If empirical examples of technology within contemporary organisations are introduced they must be used to illustrate how a theoretical perspective would view the relations between technology, organisations, management and employees.
Presenting your answer:
Please use headings with care. It is better to avoid using them in an essay but if you must, please keep them to a minimum and ensure that they enhance rather than undermine your argument.
In order to construct a logical response to the question the following structure is suggested. You do not need to use the provided headings (see above comment regarding‘headings’) and the structure itself is not mandatory. But, if you are going to use an alternative structure please ensure that it enables you to present a clear and direct response to the question asked.
In this section you must provide an overview of your answer to the question; provide answers to the key what and why questions of your argument/answer. These should take the form of direct responses to the key issues raised by the question. Your argument should be informed by a critical analysis/engagement with the content of the essential readings.
Please keep in mind that in all sections of your response you must move past description to analysis, this means providing answers to the why questions that emerge from your key statements.
Exploration of your argument:
In this section of the essay you need to accomplish two tasks.
First, you must explore the key perspectives showing how each perspective’s theoretical and metatheoretical approaches lead them to provide different insights into the relations between technology, organisations, management and employees.
Second, having demonstrated an understanding of the perspectives and their theoretical approaches to the relationship between technology, organisations, management and employees you then need to use these to explore the issue raised by the statement; the notion of technological ‘”imperatives,” but also the key human agents of the technology, the organisations in which they operate, and how these influence the course of technological change.’ In other words what does each of the perspectives have to say on this issue and why do they say it? What criticisms do they offer of each other and why?
You can address the above, two tasks sequentially; beginning with an exploration of the how and why of each of the chosen perspectives (ontology and epistemology), and second: an exploration of the positions advanced by two of the perspectives (modernist, symbolic interpretivist, critical theory and postmodernism) as they provide different insights into the relations between technology, organisations, management and employees. In your essay, you must consider at least two of the four perspectives.
An alternative structural approach is to integrate the exploration of the how and why of each perspective and how each provides different insights into the relations between technology, organisations, management and employees. For example; explore the how and why of the modernist position and then its application to modernist arguments concerning the relations between technology, organisations, management and employees. On completing the how and why of the modernist position and its application and move on to the other selected perspective.
The two alternatives outlined above will enable you to present a clear direct and disciplined response to the question.
The whole response must be informed by an engagement with essential readings. You must draw upon and evaluate academic debates and arguments. This is not to be viewed as an exercise in which you make up a response off-the-top-of-your-head nor is it one in which you focus on description and ignore analysis. You should also avoid drawing on case studies of actual organisations. What you should focus on is the theoretical aspects of the debates concerning the relations between technology, organisations, management and employees.
You must conclude with your general answer to the question. It should reiterate the key argument/answer to the question provided in the introduction and indicate to what extent it has been supported or challenged by your analysis of the debates and arguments of other authors.
ADDITIONAL GUIDENCE: –
This essay question has been designed to encourage you to prepare your own individual essay. There is no single ‘right’ answer. Markers will be looking for evidence that you have read broadly, including the provided material, and have synthesised the material to develop your own answer/ argument. The markers will also expect you to answer the question in your own words.
The following points are to help you to understand and complete your assignment:
- The question asks you to compare and contrast perspectives with regards to how they provide different insights into the relations between technology, organisations, management and employees.
- The essay has been designed to allow you to demonstrate your understanding of the course material covered in weeks 1-4.
- Do not try to cover every single detail; you only have 2000 words so concentrate on the major points rather than fine details.
- The focus in this essay is on analysis rather than description. Any description of your chosen perspectives must form part of your analysis and must contribute to the argument that you are making in your essay.
- This is not an essay asking you to consider management practices or styles of management. It is asking you to focus on ‘ways of seeing’ and thinking about technology within organisations (different perspectives) and ways of understanding and theorising about technology within organisations. Think of yourself as a researcher (rather than manager) of an organisation and you have a range of devices you can use to study technology within organisations. Each device provides you with the ability to learn something different about technology and its relationship toorganisations, managers and employees. Your job is to explain how each of the devices provides you with different insights into the relations between technology, organisations, management and employees.
- You must use the sources provided to develop your answer. They have been selected because they provide the essential material required to answer the question.You will lose marks if you fail to use them.
- Before you begin to look for additional reading you should first acquire a good understanding of the basics from the textbook and the required readings. Once you acquire this understanding you can then look for other material.
- You can make use of the Web sources but they need to be reliable sources-Wikipedia is not a reliable source of information. We encourage you to make use of journal articles which can be found via a range of library databases. I suggest you use Expanded Academic ASAP (Gale) database which is located through the Databases section of the library website because it allows you to search a range of journals using keywords. Some of the keywords you should consider are: technology in organisations, organisations and modernism, organisations and symbolic interpretivism, organisations and critical theory,organisations and postmodernism, etc. You will find an enormous amount of relevant literature. You can also do author searches which can be helpful to locate recent articles by scholars mentioned in the textbook. We also encourage you to make use of the references and further reading suggested by the textbook at the end of each chapter. ‘Citation Linker’ found through the library website is a useful tool to locate some of the journal articles mentioned in the textbook. There is a lot of information out there regarding the topic.
- Students are NOT allowed to use lecture notes as reference materials.
- You should look at the assessment sheet found in the course guide. It will give you a feel for the sorts of things we will be assessing.
- You should also look at the other part of the course guide which outlines the differences between the grades -i.e. what separates a ‘P’ from a ‘C’.
A key point to remember in answering the questions is not to be overly descriptive. In answering the question you will need to develop an argument. An argument requires ‘expressing a point of view on a subject and supporting it with evidence’ (see http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/argument.html) The basic components of an argument include:
- Making a claim (informed by relevant organisationalperspectives and/or theories)
- Supporting your claim with evidence
- Recognising and engaging with counterclaims