module specification

MN6053 - Critical Perspectives on Management and Leadership (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Critical Perspectives on Management and Leadership
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 150
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
105 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   Mindmap
Coursework 80%   Individual essay on case study
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester City Monday Afternoon

Module summary

In the 21st century organisational managers and leaders are constantly asked to work both harder and smarter and to ensure that those who work for them do the same. Stock markets dictate that businesses operate in very short time frames. E-commerce is changing how businesses connect to each other, value, both customer and shareholder, dominates corporate decisions and there is increased emphasis on sustainability, governance and the environment. At the same time lifestyle changes have increased the demand for flexibility, choice and lifelong learning opportunities at work.

These changes parallel a shift from the factory system dominated by manufacturing to a rise of knowledge work. Knowledge workers and the rise of the new economy presents a significant challenge to existing organisational theory. Old notions of managing employees by controlling their behaviour are giving way to Critical Theory’s emphasis on relational management and leadership. A critical approach to evaluating existing theory can help to get beneath the surface and discover what is really going on. It can also be the starting point of sustainable improvement in the practice of management and leadership.

This module adopts Critical Management Theory (CMS) to explore and evaluate current Western management and leadership practices.

Prior learning requirements

In order to meet the learning outcomes, students must be familiar with western approaches to management and leadership, having successfully completed relevant management modules at Levels 4 and 5

Module aims

This module aims to
1. develop critical and curious thinking about existing theory;
2 critique current approaches to management and leadership;
3. recognise the dominance of Western models using critical theory;
4. develop the intellectual rigour and knowledge to deal with the complex and multifaceted issues that arise in work situations


Management Ideology,
The politics of organisational analysis;
Critical issues in organisations;
Critical theory and postmodernism;
The knowledge economy and the future of capitalism;
Managing in emerging economies;
Critiquing managerial work;

Learning and teaching

Students learn about different critical perspectives that affect modern day management and leadership practice and are asked to investigate management and leadership from a critical perspective.
The workshops consist of a lecture on the different  theories and group-work based on specific questions and case studies that are intended to show the practical dimension of each theory under discussion. Case studies include Guardian articles on career ladders, executive pay gaps, but also business case studies like the organisation structure of Oticon. Students learn how to think critically by approaching management issues from a less standardised perspective. They analyse case studies, discuss philosophical movements and understand the heritage of modern (and post-modern) management models. The formal input is reinforced by student centred activities requiring them to work co-operatively and make sense of the various perspectives in modern day organisations. For the 1-hour seminars, students are required to provide a presentation on the topic (in 3 groups) Each group is asked to present for 10 minutes with a class discussion to analyse the presentations and topics afterwards. For example, the case study in one week might be the  Oticon model.  Students are asked to find an organisation for which the Oticon model would definitely work, could possibly work and would not at all work. Each group gets one of the three tasks and is asked to explain their choice and how the organisation could implement a postmodern organisational structure.

As participation in the seminar programme is fundamental to the learning and teaching strategy,  regular attendance is essential in order to pass this module.  Attendance records will provide evidence of participation in the seminar programme and action plan and contribution log must be submitted with the essay.

Learning outcomes

On completing the module students will be able to
1. Understand recent developments of epistemological and methodological alternatives
2. Explain the rise of managerialism associated with the hegemony of the New Right
3.Challenge the dominance of current orthodoxy in management thought);
4. Develop a critique of prominent and influential studies of managerial work

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to enable students to demonstrate how they are individually making sense of the complex concepts the module introduces.   Having established how their individual thinking is being influenced,  which they represent  as a mind map, they are then able to produce an essay  which requires application of the various schools of thought to case studies. They will be familiar with this approach from their engagement with the seminars.


Aburdene, P (2005) Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads.
Ackroyd, S. and Fleetwod, S (eds) (2000) Realist Perspectives on Management and Organisations. London: Routledge
Alvesson, M. and Wilmont, H. (1996) Making Sense of Management: A Critical Introduction. London: Sage.
Grint, K. (2010) The Sociology of Work. Cambridge: Polity Press
Korczynski, M, Hodson, R., & Edwards, P. (2006) (Eds) Social Theory at Work.
Linstead, S., Fulop, L., & Lilley S., (2004) Management and organisation: A critical text. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Morrison, K. (2006) Marx, Durkhein, Weber: formations of modern social thought.  London: Sage
Moynagh, M. and Worlsey, R. (2008), Going Global: Key Questions for the Twenty First Century. A&C Black: London
Noon, M. and Blyton, P. (2007) The Realities of Work. Basingstoke: Palgrave
Stones, R. (2008) Key Sociological Thinkers. Basingstoke: Palgrave
Thomas, A.B. (2003) Controversies in Management: Issues, debates and answers (2nd Ed), Routledge: London
Zald, M. (2002) ‘Spinning Disciplines: Critical Management Studies in the Context of the Transformation of Management Education’. Organisation 9(3): 365-385.