module specification

HR7134 - Contextualising Management (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Contextualising Management
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 200
144 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
20 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Strategy report (3000 words)
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Wednesday Afternoon

Module summary

It is increasingly acknowledged that many organisations are functioning in what are turbulent and uncertain environments.  Significantly, the CIPD in its position paper People Management Matters placed the role of changes in external markets and associated competitive pressures at the forefront of factors seen to be exerting an influence on organisations, managers and the management of people.  Such an approach has also influenced recent academic treatment of people management and is increasingly reflected in government policy towards product and labour markets and in legislation affecting the management of people. 
Perhaps as significant as the developing competitive context for organisations has been the growing importance of working and doing business beyond the UK after Brexit, and the implications of this for people management practice. This, along with domestic legislation will bring about significant changes to the role of the HR practitioner in many organisations.

Much of what is covered in this module is to take these and other broader contextual issues such as demographic and technological changes and attempt to analyse them in some depth and then explore their implications for organisations, specifically those of strategy and structure, and the management of staff. That is to examine and analyse the contexts in which organisations operate and then to examine how management responds to diverse contextual challenges and to continuous change when devising and implementing appropriate strategies for survival and growth.

Finally, the module engages with the whole area of corporate governance, including CSR but with particular focus on how organisations are owned and controlled and how this plays out in terms of the role and status accorded to people management.  This connects with the importance of issues such as shareholder value, and how HR adds value to an organisation, which in turn leads into consideration of the need for HR to be financially aware and to be able to argue its case in accounting and financial terms.

Module Aims

This module has four specific aims.  First, to bring together those factors that are relevant to any consideration of ‘management in context’, and specifically those areas within the external and internal environments that influence management decision-making.  Second, to develop an integrative and systematic overview of these influences, both within the module and alongside the ‘Leading, Managing and Developing People’ module.  Third, and in conjunction with the ‘Leading, Managing and Developing People’ module, to emphasise the dynamic and complex nature of the environments within which  management operates, as well as the impact of changes on different organisational stakeholders. These effects in turn impact on the power balance and resources available to managers and determine the political context in which they have to operate.  This point is reinforced in the fourth, and final aim: the role of management in fashioning the strategic direction of the organisation in the context of competing stakeholder interests.


You will explore the Changing Contexts of People Management, as well as the Organisation in (Historical) Context: the UK economy, de-industrialisation and the rise of the service economy. You will examine the Economic Context, looking at the nature of the economic problem and its resolution. You will examine Markets and competition, considering the implications of these for HRM. You will explore the concept of Globalisation – the internationalisation of business and its implications for organisations and people management. In terms of the Political Context, you will examine our contrast with EU in light of Brexit, and some of the differences in terms of regulation of work and employment. You will examine the Legal Context for HRM, the law and the employment relationship. You will consider Social Change, Labour Markets as well as the Technological Context, together with the implications of each of these for organisations and HRM and HR applications. You will analyse the Governance Context, including aspects of Ownership, Control and Corporate governance. You will consider the Financial and Accounting Context for HRM, and the tools of financial analysis and financial control as they relate to the HR function. You will examine Organisations and the Organisational Context: Strategy, Structure, and Culture – including the concepts of bureaucracy, networked organisations, Business and HR Strategy, and HR and Performance.

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Reflecting our view of learning and teaching as a collaborative process that involves your active contribution and participation, this module is based on a combination of class-based and parallel independent study. The former utilises a wide mix of learning and teaching methods, including lectures, discussion groups, workshops, case studies, simulations and day seminars. The tutor-led sessions are primarily employed to provide you with an overview of the issues addressed in the module and are usually supported by teaching papers or other material.

A distinctive feature of the module is its use of both live and historical case studies that are included as a basis for discussion and analysis and as a means of embedding learning in a set of particular organisational, industry, sectoral and geographic contexts.  Industry and sector cases – airlines, motor vehicles, retail supermarkets, mobile phones, book retailing, retail banking – are supplemented by organisational cases which run through the module and provide a vehicle for the application of theoretical concepts developed both in this and the “sister” module Leading, Managing and Developing People.

The key emphasis, however, is on learning through participation. You will therefore be encouraged to draw on your professional experience as well as your reading/other preparation and participate with your co-students and staff in a variety of discussion-based sessions. These are structured to enable you to deepen and extend your understanding of the changing context of organisational decision-making and their implications for the HR function/HRM policies and practices. The emphasis throughout will be on introducing and exploring concepts and ideas, assessing their implications for practice in organisations and raising awareness of the ways in which HR can seek to influence process and outcomes.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module, you will be able to:

LO1. Assess the importance of external factors, the content of work and the employment relationship to effective management.
LO2. Provide examples of how effective people management strategy contributes to organisational effectiveness and performance.
LO3. Deploy appropriate financial and non-financial performance standards and control systems.


Here is the link to the electronic reading list (see module menu in Weblearn).