EM 501


Management of Organizations

Class Schedule , Texts


The need to manage individuals, groups, teams and organizations is not new. Years of organizational behavior and management study discovered the basic fundamentals that form the foundation of traditional management principles. Most of these principles are addressed in this course. This foundation is necessary to understand why traditional methods and current 'best practices' are effective. It also helps us implement correct principles in our own environments.

On the other hand, the world is constantly changing and we continue to learn more about human behavior. This introduces new and ever changing theories, ideas, and techniques to be considered. Our graduate study should include tools to logically evaluate new ideas and to extend the basic fundamentals beyond current best practices. We need to be able to think for ourselves and prepare for our future needs. This course introduces ways to do that as well.

There are as many different opinions about how to manage organizations as there are managers.  Everyone has a slightly different idea about any situation .  Each person's view is filtered by their experience, environment, personallity and personal goals.  Almost every management style can be effective if it is used correctly and includes all the necesary elements to succeed.  To often our own philosophies are just feelings that are not clear to ourselves or otheres.  Student needs to verbalize their intuition in order to clarify their understanding.  And, by discussing the different views, they surface the assumptions that block them from  improving their management skills.  This course introduces ways for the student to understand mental conftict between alternatives and find the appropriate solution.


Our traditional management text is used as a framework and an outline to give structure to this study. It includes the majority of concepts needed for a basic understanding and offers many different learning styles and methods. New material is introduced in chapter study, recommended readings and in-class exercises. Thoughtful students will do a lot of outside reading and pondering in this class.

Student's will research current periodicals and present their finding to bring many of the 'best practices' into the classroom. Classroom discussion will take a logical approach to support and challenge the 'best practices' as they apply to technical organizations. In addition, each student will also perform an Organizational Audit to apply and extend class material into a specific case relevant to them.

The best way to teach behavior in organizations is by observing and recognizing behavior in real organizations. Students will participate in several case studies and group discussions to identify, observe and document behavior. They will also learn how to manage the observed behavior in individuals and groups. Part of the management process is to reinforce positive factors. Part of management is to change negative factors. Students will develop and demonstrate these abilities in both written and oral reports. Students are encouraged to compare and contrast these concepts with their own organization.

Inserted in the course outline are additional critical management skills necessary for the effective management of organizations. These topics tend to integrate the discussion and help students become more successful at applying classroom theory.

The class relies on extensive classroom discussion and interaction. Students must take an active role in the learning process. These discussions, as much as possible, include discussion of real problems and successes in student organizations.



Conflict Resolution: The management of technical organizations presents several unique problems. The engineering detail and exacting processes of design and manufacturing denote intense individual effort and creativity. On the other hand, developing complex systems requires an integrated group process that taxes the best communication and group dynamics skills.

Engineers tend to be systems thinkers. They can think of the global project and, at the same time, focus on the individual subsystem which is part of the major system. The typical engineer is independent, self driven and finds reward in continuous improvement. They are powerhouses at managing things but lack the skills of managing people. An engineer education focuses on individual skills. The execution of these skills in a technical organization requires a group success. This logical conflict is exemplified in the current cartoon character Dilbert. Dilbert compares logical thinking to current management practices and the results are humorous antidotes that highlight the shortcomings of traditional management methods. Our goal is to take 'Dilbert' out of technical organizations.

Managing organizations is basically conflict resolution. If there is no conflict, there is no management role. Management is to resolve conflicts in resources, time, money and policy in clear, understandable and creative ways.


Communication: Communication is probably an engineer's biggest shortcoming. And yet, it is critical to the success of any organization. Establishing a common goal and attaching individual performance to the achievement of the goal is impossible without communication. We need to communicate the right information at the right time. Students learn how to create communication plans that demonstrate how a proposed action will change reality from what it is to what is desired. Students learn to focus on communicating capability and not just progress.


Empowerment: The balance of power between managers and subordinates often causes significant problems in the workplace. Empowerment is matching an employees authority with the employees responsibility. And, at the same time, empowerment maintains the structured direction needed in complex organizations.


Team Building: Achieving ambitious targets requires both the full creative contributions of individuals as well as the synergistic effect of the group. Success is delayed if the tasks are too hard or too easy. Team building addresses how to tackle the most difficult tasks without missing the needed details.


Rules, Training and Measures: "Tell me how you measure me and I'll tell you how I'll perform." Fundamental to successful organizations are its rules, measures and reward structures. The effects of outdated measures are devastating. But, finding the errant measures is difficult. Finding the correct measures to insert is also hard. But, the effort is well worth it.




Organizational Behavior: Emerging realities for the workplace revolution, Steven L. McShane and Mary Ann Von Glinow, Irwin McGraw-Hill, 2000, ISBN 0-256-22896-5.


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, Steven R. Covey, ISBN 0-671-70863-5.



The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, Peter Senge, Doubleday 1994, ISBN 0-38526-095-4.


Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, James C. Collins and Jerry J. Porras, New York: Harperbusiness, 1997, ISBN 0-88730-739-6.


It's Not Luck, Eliyahu M. Goldratt, North River Press, 1994, ISBN 0-8427-115-3.


The Dilbert Principle, Scott Adams, Harper Business Press, 1996, ISBN 0-88730-787-6.


Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation, James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones, Simon & Schuster, 1996, 0-68481-035-2.

Six Sigma, Mikel Harry and Richard Schroeder, Doubleday, 2000, ISBN 0-385-49437-8.


10% 1. Independent Study:  Select a classroom topic and read from at least three (3) articles from current academic, research, or management journals about the topic. Prepare a summary report of the three articles.  Choose your articles to amplify, substantiate or challenge the material in the text. 

The reports on current articles will consist of two parts. The first is a one-page summary. On this page, include the class name, your name and complete references for the articles you selected all in the top 1/3 of the page. In the lower 2/3rds of the page, make an executive summary of your report. The second part is your 5 to 8 page, typed, double-spaced summary and critical analysis of the three articles. You will provide both the one-page summary and the full paper to the professor. You will provide a copy of the one-page summary to each member of the class.

10% 2. Oral Presentation: Each student will present a 10-20 minute oral presentation, with suitable audio-visual support, summarizing and analyzing the articles (a copy of any overhead slides should also be presented to the professor). If possible, the critique should include a consideration of how the material would apply in the presenter's own organization.

10% 3.  Case Study:  Each week, we will discuss a case from a chapter of the text.  Each student will choose two cases and prepare a brief (2 to 4 pages) summary of the case and their recommended solution.  The cases will be assigned (selected) early in the term to spread the student work throughout the class. There is 5% per case. 

20% 4. In-Class Exams:  Two exams will be taken in class during the course work.  Theses one-hour exams will consist of true/false, multiple choice, and short-answer questions from the material in the texts. The purpose is to confirm the student's understanding of the fundamental terms and concepts of organizational theory and to keep the student on track.

20% 5. Organizational Audit:  Perform and report on an organizational audit (an in depth case study) of your organization, or another organization with which you are familiar, based on the criteria developed as a result of your studies of the text and the current literature. The written report will be no more than 10 typed, double-spaced pages. It will be due NOT LATER THAN Session 12. This report constitutes a significant portion of your grade in the course, so it should reflect your best work. In this world of spell checkers and grammar checkers, there is no excuse for a poorly written report. Students are expected to write clearly, concisely with real content. Students will lead an informal discussion relative to the insights they have gleaned from their studies.

20% 6. Final exam: The three-hour final exam will be a comprehensive open-ended case study analysis relative to the integration and application of the concepts presented throughout the course. This essay exam allows students to synthesize all the course material as it applies to real, complex, current organizational management problems. 

10% 7. Class Participation:  Everyone has intuition and opinioin about organizational behavior.  There are many views based upon different environments and reference points.  However, if the intuition is not verbalized, it is not a clear picture and is hard to improve upon.  In this graduate course, participation is critical to individual success and the success of the class. Each student is expected to contribute thoughtful comment and question. There are no incorrect views, only opportunity to clarify assumptions.  Students are expected to activily participate in discussion and contribute to the class learning process.


James R. Holt, Ph.D., PE., is an Associate Professor of Engineering Management at Washington State University - Vancouver. He teaches Organizational Behavior, Operations Research, Statistics, Engineering Economics, Simulation, Information Systems, Constraints Managment and other special topics. He was a Principal Consultant with Management Advisory Group, Inc. and is a Certified Academic Associate of the Avraham Y. Goldratt Institute. He served as Department Head, Engineering and Environmental Management at the Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Dr. Holt retired from the Air Force with 20 years experience in engineering, computer and technology management. He has published several articles on project management, maintenance and artificial intelligence. He holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering (Utah State University), an MS in Facilities Engineering (Air Force Institute of Technology) and a Ph.D. specializing in Industrial Engineering / Business Administration (Texas A&M University).


Fall 2000








Aug 29



The Field of Organizational Behavior

Ancol Corp

Sep 5



Individual Behavior and Learning

Push Paper

Sep 12



Individual Motivation

Risk Takers

Sep 19



Applied Motivation


Sep 26



Perception and Personality


Oct 3



Workplace Emotion, Vaues and Etics

Rough Seas

Oct 10




Sea Pines

Oct 17



In-Class Exam 1
Team Dynamics


Oct 24



Empowerment and Quality

New Machines& Coast Guard

Oct 31



Decision Making

Flight Simulator

Nov 7



Organizational Power and Conflict

Foreign Exchange Confrontation

Nov 14



Organizational Leadership

Whose Eyes

Nov 28



In-Class Exam 2
Organizational Change and Development


Dec 5



Organizational Culture


Dec 12



Employee Relations, Organizational Design


Dec 19



Final Examination
(In-Class during Exam Week)