To what extent are organisations socially constructed phenomena?

Making Sense of Organisations – Individual Module Assignment 2011

Assignment Brief and Purpose

The assignment requires you to address the following question in the form of an essay;

To what extent are organisations socially constructed phenomena?

Given that organisations are an inescapable part or all our lives it becomes important that we develop an understanding of what they are and how they work (or do not work).  The lecture programme has emphasized the idea that organisations are not a single entity and that making sense of them requires us to examine them through a variety of theoretical perspectives as well as our own perceptual lens.  This postmodern understanding argues that organisations are socially constructed phenomena, so questions like; ‘what the organisation is’, ‘why it is there’ and ‘how it works (or doesn’t)’ and ‘why’, should be addressed from these different, but interrelated theoretical constructs.

The various perspectives offered during the lectures can all be employed to help you make sense of organisations.  These may include the following but you are not confined to these;




Rational technical



Cultural (organisational and national)


An additional implication of the postmodern understanding is that the person making sense, (you), must acknowledge their own influence on the sense making process, that is, you are also involved in socially constructing the organisation even as an analyst, and are not examining it from a distance.  This will involve you in a consideration of your own background and life experience.  You are encouraged to offer insights of your own, and given that we are understanding organisations as any community of people, large or small and with whatever purpose, you should use your own experience.  This may include any organisations of which you have experience, for example; part time or full time work, schools and other educational establishments, leisure time organisations, political organisations.

Finally, you are also required to use examples from contemporary organisations to support and illustrate your points.  These might come from your reading of contemporary event from news sources or television documentaries

Learning Outcomes

Having completed this assignment you should;

  • be able to make an informed assessment of the nature of organisations as you encounter them
  • be conversant with a range of theories of organisation
  • be able to identify your own experience of organisation in the context of theoretical work
  • be familiar with key issues relating to contemporary organisations

Marking Scheme

Comprehension and use of appropriate theoretical perspectives 30%
Use of examples from personal experience 20%
Use of examples from contemporary organisations 20%
Construction of a well crafted and convincing essay 20%
Correct referencing 10%



To summarise, you are required to write an essay which explores the notion of organisation using a variety of theoretical perspectives and supported by examples from your own experience as well as from your reading of academic work and from contemporary organisations.  This will require you to use the lecture material, books and articles, contemporary news sources and your own experience.  The emphasis is on writing a persuasive essay which builds a case for a particular point of view and which is drawn together in the conclusion.  Your account should be analytical and critically informed, and not simply a description of an organisation.

You must use the Harvard referencing system and reference all authors and dates referred to in the text.


  • Do not copy tracts of work from printed material, the internet or another student.
  • Do not share an electronic copy of your work with anyone not concerned in its production.
  • Use the Business School standard for Harvard Referencing


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