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RSM2601H – Organization Design

General Information


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Applicable Major(s):
(c) = Core, (r) = Recommended

  • Consulting (r)
  • Health Sector Management (r)
  • Leadership and Change Management (c)

Target Audience

We spend our lives in organizations and interacting with organizations. This course is for those who are interested in gaining insight into how organizations work, why they so often don’t work very well and how to be more effective working in and with organizations.


Evenings: 6:30pm to 9:30pm
Spring term beginning on Monday, January 3, 2022
8 sessions of three hour classes ending on Thursday, January 13, 2022
The 8 sessions will be from Monday to Thursday for two weeks.
Fridays have been reserved if a class has been cancelled.

Course Mission

The purpose of this course is to make you aware of the hidden assumptions, concepts and principles that underlie the way organizations are designed. Organizations are designed to induce certain kinds of behaviour. This insight will enable you to see what the organization should be good at and the kinds of limitations and constraints that the design puts on its functioning. If you are aware of the intentions and the limitations, you will be able to be more effective in your own work, more effective in dealing with other organizations as suppliers or customers, and ultimately more effective at designing an organization for which you have responsibility.

Therefore the goals for the course are for students to:

  1. Understand how organizations are put together;
  2. Use your awareness of how organizations function to be more effective in your job;
  3. Have the tools to organize a work unit for which they are responsible.

Course Scope

Organizations are designed to induce the behaviors necessary to execute an intended strategy. As strategies have become more complex and more dynamic, organization designs and the theories that underlie them  have responded to the challenge. Once it was enough to get the right people with the right skills in the right places with the right processes. Then it became important that those people were motivated to do the right things. Now it is important for people inside organizations to be energized and focused to create and adapt. Work is more interesting that it ever was.

The flow of the course will follow that path from the challenges of a traditional organization facing current day pressures to those of the newer organizations that could only exist in the information age. We will also contrast the challenges of leading a smaller company with those of leading a large multi-divisional corporation.  Over our time together we may be able to synthesize the existing theories into something that may be more useful in a more complex and interesting world.

There will be a series of readings that lay out the theories and principles of organization design. The purpose of the classes is to explore and discuss the application of those theories using a case or an exercise or a guest.

It is important that as you read the cases, you pay particular attention to the situation confronting the protagonists.  Organizations exist to do something.  In their simplest form, business organizations exist to make a profitable sale. Not-for-profits generate revenue in order to serve a societal need. Pay attention to the financials.  Pay attention to the challenges the organization is facing in its environment: demands of customers; competitive pressures; technological challenges and opportunities. In every case discussion we will not move onto the organization design issues until we have a point of view on the business challenges that are being confronted.

Evaluation and Grade Distribution

ComponentDue DateWeight
Class ParticipationOngoing20%
Personal BlogWeekly and one week after class30%
Final AssignmentTwo weekends after last class50%

Required Resources

Cases and articles to be purchased by students or made available on the course web portal.

Last Updated: 2021-07-13 @ 12:31 pm