Organisational Behaviour – Surprise under the Carpet at Northern Sigma
The case study needs to focus on organisational behaviour traits.
Assignment Three – Case Study
Surprise under the carpet at Northern Sigma
Students have a choice between two final pieces of assessment, the Critical Reflection or the Case Study.
Critical Reflection: Outline how you arrived at the key lessons you take, if any, from OB as you would for a family member, colleague, staff member or supervisor. Use relevant OB theory, concepts and results from your textbook and the broader peer-review OB literature to support your answer.
NB An acceptable response to the Critical Reflection is that there are no key lessons to be drawn from the course. If you want to pursue this approach, draw on the course concepts to explain why this happened.
Case Study: Critically analyse “Surprise under the carpet at Northern Sigma” relative to one of the dependent variables described in Robbins et al (pp. 20-22). Use relevant OB theory, concepts and results from your textbook and the broader peer-review OB literature to support your answer. Provide recommendations on what Northern Sigma can do based on your analysis.
This formative assessment is designed to promote in-depth engagement with the course by critically thinking about the course. The choice aims to reflect variation in student strengths, where some work better with ambiguous topics (Critical Reflection) and others work more effectively with a tightly focused piece of assessment (Case Study).
Critical Reflection: This asks you to articulate how you arrived at the learning as much as what you learned. The Reflection effectively asks you to outline the most important lessons you take away from this course. The constraint on how much you can write means you may have to make decisions about what to include. Demonstrating insight like this means you are likely to remember what you have learned in the future, which means the course has been more than a milestone towards a qualification.
Case Study: This asks you to think through the issues facing Northern Sigma towards establishing a set of recommendations. In doing so, you need to think about behaviour in the organisation holistically. The analytic framework is provided with regards to explaining the behaviour using a key dependent variable. Demonstrating you can apply the course to a nominal situation means you are more likely to extrapolate the learning from A3 to other situations as they arise using a solutions focused approach. Extrapolation indicates deeper learning such that the course has been more than a milestone towards a qualification.
Both of these questions were set as exam questions in previous versions of OB. A3 is effectively a take home version of the exam where you have more time to think things through.
Critical Reflection: One method that worked for some students in OB10-13 was keeping a reflective diary throughout the semester. They used this diary to write down thoughts and insights, and hopefully capture (and even create!) a few of the “aha” moments where you move from knowing to understanding. Augment these by searching the peer-review literature to inform your understanding of these moments. You need to discover the best way for you to reflect on the key lessons you take from this course. It may be through something other than a reflective diary. The key is to find something that works for you.
Learning in this context is by no means constrained to the course. For example, a news article on TV can trigger an “aha” moment where some aspect of OB suddenly became clear to you.
Case Study: A good way of developing a rich and sophisticated understanding of the case study is to reflect on how each Topic in the course informs the issues under consideration. As you progress through the course, look for the relationship between Topics to help develop the integrated understanding of the IGO that enables holistic critical analysis. For example, you may discover a relationship between social norms and job satisfaction. This includes developing your understanding by looking for relevant peer-review articles to support your thinking as you progress through the topics. Towards the end of the course, step back from the foundation work for each Topic to look at Northern Sigma as a whole to see what (if any) patterns emerge that might explain the observed behaviour (dependent variable).
I have provided space for people to share their thoughts about what is happening at Northern Sigma.
Critical Reflection: A big trap is that your learning has to be “deep” or “big”. Some of the class may have philosophical insights into the complexity of the human condition. Equally, some of the class may discover very simple and pragmatic rules that help them better understand their world. For example, as a result of the Perception topic, one OB10 student discovered that the rules of evidence are a lot more fluid than the absolutes of right and wrong they had learned in the military. This was a profound shift in thinking without being “deep” or “big”. For their response to the equivalent of A3, they explained how this insight shaped their perception of the world and what it meant they would do differently in future.
Case Study: The big trap for the Case Study is analysing each element of the IGO as separate and discrete constructs. The IGO model is a reductive artifice that enables analysis of elements of behaviour in organisations. As such, the results that come from it need to be reconstructed when used. One way to think about this is looking at the IGO as a web. When you tweak a Group level strand the Individual and Organisational level strands also move. Nothing in OB happens in isolation. Look to integrate the elements across OB Topics to provide the holistic answer.
Students must use the A3 Template. This includes filling out the Checklist by giving the word count (as a number) and the number of references. Failure to meet this requirement will result in a halving of the mark awarded for the Communication criterion.
The format for all written work is to be within the word limit range, 12pt Times New Roman with 1.5x line spacing, and footers with name, student number and page number. Failure to meet this requirement will result in a halving of the mark awarded for the Communication criterion.
Failure to meet this requirement will result in a halving of the mark awarded for the Research criterion. Students must have at least 10 unique references supporting their paper with the following minima:
• 5 unique peer-reviewed (scholarly) articles.
There are a number of peer-reviewed (scholarly) journals that you could use for this assignment; for example, e.g. Journal of Organisational Behaviour, Personality and Individual Differences or Psychometrika.
Equal weight is assigned to each of the following five categories:
Argument: The focus of this criterion is whether the paper provides a compelling account that takes the reader coherently and logically through a series of propositions and evidence towards the conclusion. For example, a paper that has no good reason for introducing several strands of evidence will be marked down on this criterion.
Implications/Depth: This criterion assesses the demonstrated understanding of the implications of ideas developed through the paper. For example, there may be effects that are hidden from superficial or casual examination that become apparent with a deeper analysis of the underlying dynamics.
Communication: Papers are assessed on the quality of communication, including spelling and grammar, consistently formatted in-text citation, economy of language, presentation and readability (exposition). Poor proofreading will result in lower marks. Students failing to meet the Presentation requirements outlined above have their marks halved for this criterion.
Research: The depth and breadth of research is assessed, as well as how well the research is used to support the main contention(s) of the paper. For example, a paper dominated by direct citation from other sources without interpretation or analysis may be marked down. Students failing to meet the Reference requirement outlined above have their marks halved for this criterion.
Theory/Concept: This criterion assesses how well the paper has addressed the abstract elements driving the ideas under consideration. For example, this might include explaining why you failed to have a “light bulb” moment using OB theory and concepts.
Feedback for Assessment 3 Must be Requested
Given the submission date is late in the semester, there are significant administrative pressures to finalise marks. There is an embargo on marks through the exam period until the Assessment Committees confirm final marks. As a result, students wanting feedback to their response to A3 they must request it via e-mail. Requests are actioned after the final marks have been released. See Assessment>Feedback on Assessment 1 and Assessment 3 for the rationale.
Experience of Assessment 3 from Previous OB Classes
Originally, A3 was only the Critical Reflection. When I ran this past the OB11 on-campus group, they were adamant that the Case Study was important. A key argument put forward was that some students wanted a more structured assessment topic. As a result of their input the case study is included as an option. Since 2012, the class is evenly split between topics. There is no statistically significant difference in marks across the topics.
A3 Marks and Moodle
The marks for A3 are generated through the embargo period where we are unable to disseminate marks as UNSW grinds through the administration and quality assurance of final marks. In this context, the marks for A3 are never updated on Moodle. As noted above, you may request feedback.