Bard MBA

Employees and Organizations

Fall 2013
3 Credits

The key learning objectives for the course are:
  • Understanding the economic frameworks for labor productivity and employee relations
  • Indentifying the cultural differences among businesses, non-profit, government and academic organizations in order to collaborate successfully between them
  • Developing strategies for employee engagement to maximize innovation in sustainability
  • Developing the strategic fit between an organization’s internal competencies and resources with external variables and firm objectives
  • Debating the tradeoffs between profit maximization, layoffs
  • Understanding the limits of financial reward models for employees and the values and impact-driven approach demanded by millennials
  • Utilizing social media technologies to develop a network of support for collaboration on projects and strategy
Student Outcomes:
The class is designed help students identify the strengths and weaknesses of incentive-based and values-based approaches to organizational behavior, and the strategies necessary to maximize the success of these varying approaches within and across different types of organizations.

  • O’Reilly, Charles and Michael Tushman, Winning Through Innovation: A Practical Guide to Leading Organizational Change and Renewal, Harvard Business Press, 2002.
  • • Katzenbach, Jon R. and Zia Khan, Leading Outside the Lines: How to Mobilize the Informal Organization, Energize Your Team and Get Better Results, Jossey-Bass, 2010.
  • Additional readings will regularly be assigned from a number of other books, academic and journal publications including:
    • Frank, Robert, Microeconomics and Behavior, McGraw Hill, 2010.
    • Gentile, Mary, Giving Voice to Values. Yale University Press, 2010.
    • CGO Insights No. 20 Women Pursuing Leadership and Power: Challenging the Myth of the Opt Out Revolution, Deborah Merrill-Sands, Jill Kickul, and Cynthia Ingols, Feb. 2005.
The course will be a combination of lectures, case studies, group discussions, and student projects. Active participation in class discussions will be essential. Grading will be determined by participation in in-class exercises, case analysis, group presentations, completion of homework, and exams.

Course Outline:
The Bard MBA curriculum is modular, with each module topic corresponding to a residency. The outline below provides the Employees and Organizations set of topics for each of the semester’s modules, with each set of topics corresponding to three to four weeks of conventional instruction.



The Sustainability Advantage

Eyes on the Prize. Sustainable businesses have a natural advantage in their social mission: people work for money, but they also work to change the world. Both are important in attracting and retaining talent. We focus here on building effective organizations that can achieve both goals by giving the most to, and getting the most from, employees.

Communication and System Design

Human Resources Systems. How do small and large companies develop systems to maximize employee productivity? We will focus here on constraints imposed by external labor markets, as well as the design of internal management processes. 

Human Rights and Empowerment

Employee engagement strategies for sustainability. We will focus on case studies of successful employee engagement including do-one-thing, 3P, ‘jams, green building and more.   We will examine both intrinsic reward models based on values, as well as traditional incentive models. How are team and individual reward systems structured?

Building organizational congruence. We analyze the fit between strategy and organization, congruence frameworks, and managing the process of strategic and organizational change, including ethical considerations.

Social Media

Creating global networks through technology. We will examine how employees create and grow their professional networks of business support—inside and outside the organization—through social media networks. We will focus on understanding the importance of “nodes” or connectors within these networks and their importance to organizational communication, however informal.