module specification

HR5059 - Organisations and People: Context, Strategy and Practice (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Organisations and People: Context, Strategy and Practice
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 150
105 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Report (3,500 words)
Running in 2017/18 No instances running in the year

Module summary

HR professionals need to understand the key internal and external contexts that impact on HR strategy, how organisations are designed and how people are managed. This module allows learners to explore theory and models to enable them to develop knowledge and a critical understanding of contemporary issues affecting the management of people and the employment relationship and how these contribute to healthy and adaptable organisations that can meet current and future challenges. The module will encourage learners to adopt critical perspectives to help develop HR solutions to conflict management and organisational problems at local, national and international levels.

Module aims

To introduce the key factors that shape organisations’ employment strategies.
To critically evaluate theory and models that seek to explain the nature of the employment relationship.
To enable students to apply their understanding of context, strategy and practice to produce focused solutions to business issues.


• External and internal contextual factors influencing organisational strategy, performance and the HR function.
• The concept of globalisation and its implications for organisations, HR, and employees.
• Different approaches to strategy development and implementation.
• Relationship between business strategy and HR: Integration and people management strategies.
• Relationship between organisational design, culture and business strategy.
• Theoretical perspectives of organisation design and factors that influence structure, flexibility and agility.
• Components of organisation structure, models of organisational design and new structural forms: mechanistic, organic, networked and virtual organisations.
• Issues of work design and impact on organisational and employee performance.
• The nature of work in contemporary society and perspectives of managing the employment relationship.
• Actors in the employment relationship.
• Understanding the labour market and different contractual forms of employment.
• Collective and individual employment legislation.
• Mechanisms for employee involvement and participation.
• Forms of employee conflict, conflict management and dispute resolution.
• Role of HR in managing change, corporate governance and ethical business behaviour.

Learning and teaching

The learning and teaching strategy will encompass a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops and online work. This will include tutor led lectures, student led class discussions, case studies, individual and group exercises. Students will be asked to take part in problem solving activities where theory and models will need to be applied to specific context. They will also be encouraged to reflect on their own experience of organisations and employment to support the development of relevant knowledge, skills and understanding. Sessions will be supported by web based resources.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit, learners will:
• Understand how internal and external factors have shaped organisational design and employment strategies and evaluate their current relevancy.
• Critically examine the roles and actions of different actors in the employment relationship.
• Identify and evaluate contemporary approaches to managing employee involvement and participation.
• Understand and evaluate the role of HR in formulating strategy and addressing contemporary business issues.

Assessment strategy

The assessment for this module will consist of one formal submission but there will also be regular opportunities for informal assessment through the use of online exercises where students will receive feedback. The regular online exercises will relate to the weekly topics and also focus on building writing and thinking skills. This will prepare the student for the final assessment by providing clear expectations of academic conventions and the level of analysis and evaluation required.
The assessment will focus on students preparing a consultancy report (3,500 words) on the organisational and employment-related opportunities and risks of a trans-national organisation opening a branch or subsidiary in the UK. This will allow the student to address all the learning outcomes to a suitable depth.


Key texts and e-books
Blyton, P and P. Turnbull (2004) The Dynamics of Employee Relations Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan – available as an ebook via the university library
Farnham, D. (2015) Human Resource Management in Context: Strategy, Insights and Solutions London, CIPD
Harzig, A. and Pinnington, A. (eds) (2015) International Human Resource Management
Huczynski, A. Buchanan, D. (2013) Organisational Behaviour Harlow, Pearson
Kew, J. and Stredwick, J. (2013) Human Resource Management in a business context
London, CIPD
London, Sage
Stewart, J. and Rogers, P. (eds) (2012) Developing People and Organisations London, CIPD (chapter 1)
Taylor, S. and Woodhams, C. (eds) (2012) Managing People and Organisations London, CIPD (chapter 5)
Taylor, S. and Woodhams, C. (eds) (2012) Studying Human Resource Management London, CIPD (chapter 3)
Wetherly, P. and Otter, D. (2013) The Business Environment: themes and issues in a globalising world Oxford, OUP – available as an e-book via the university library
Willey, B. (2013) Employment Law in Context London, CIPD Williams, S and Adam-Smith, D. (2010) Contemporary Employee Relations Oxford, OUP
Bargaining Report
British Journal of Industrial Relations
Employment Review
Harvard Business Review
Human Resource Management Journal
International Journal of Human Resource Management
Labour Market Trends
Labour Research
Personnel Review

Online resources:
Business Issues and Context links:
Employee Relations links:
Organisational Design links:

Useful websites:
Equality and Human Rights Commission
The Government’s Workplace Employee Relations Survey (WERS)