Briefly describe two of the three main perspectives in organization theory (Modernist, Symbolic Interpretive, Postmodern) and discuss what constitutes a good manager according to each of these perspectives.

Guidance for MN1115 2nd Assignment 2020/21

Students must write a 1,500-word essay with the following title:

Briefly describe two of the three main perspectives in organization theory (Modernist, Symbolic Interpretive, Postmodern) and discuss what constitutes a good manager according to each of these perspectives.

The deadline for submission of your essay is 12pm Thursday 10th December 2020. This assignment will comprise 70% of the final mark you receive for this course. You will also receive feedback to help you improve future assignments.

We have provided guidance with respect to content in lectures (and continue to do so) and you should refer to your lecture notes for help in this respect. If your question about content has not been answered in lectures or you have a question that builds on the information you receive there, then you are welcome to get in touch with your lecturer/s or you could contact your workshop leader.

Remember, this course builds on knowledge delivered week-on-week. If you have not kept up with you reading and if you have not attended the majority of lectures, there will be significant gaps in your knowledge and therefore your understanding. These gaps will be evident in your essay, so if you need to/wish to compensate for this, it is especially important that you read as widely as possible from the reading list below.

The rest of this note provides guidance on appropriate reading, the structure and organization of your essay, and other helpful hints.


A list of sources to help you answer your essay is provided below. Do not treat this reading list as exhaustive – you can and should do your own research to find additional sources, and you can also build from the references you can find within these readings. You can also use the sources we used in the workshops as well as building from the references cited in these readings. You should aim to read and reference at the very least five sources – but the best essays are likely to refer to more.

Clegg, S. R., Kornberger, M., & Pitsis, T. (2015). Managing and organizations: An introduction to theory and practice. Sage.

Grey, C. (2008). A very short fairly interesting and reasonably cheap book about studying organizations. Los Angeles: Sage.

Hatch, M.J. and Cunliffe, A.L., 2013. Organization theory: modern, symbolic and postmodern perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hatch, M. J. (2011). Organizations: a very short introduction (Vol. 264). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hendry, J. (2013). Management: a very short introduction (Vol. 368). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lock, E (2003) Postmodernism and Management. London: Emerald Martin, J. (1990). Deconstructing organizational taboos: The suppression of gender conflict in organizations. Organization Science, 1(4), 339-359.

McAuley, J., Duberley, J., & Johnson, P. (2014). Organization theory: Challenges and perspectives. London: Pearson Education.

Postmodern Turn and Organization Studies: SAGE Key Concepts series: Key Concepts in Organization Theory *

*These books are on your reading list for next term’s MN1705 Organisation Studies course, so reading them now will give you a head start.

Structure and Organisation

All essays including this one should start with an introduction, which outlines the structure of the essay with respect to the question, and provides a brief summary of the argument you are going to make.

The body of the text should be divided roughly in two. About half should be focused on describing two of the three paradigms to OT: (i.e. modernist; postmodern; symbolic interpretative approaches). Remember you must focus on providing information that directly answers the question. One implication of this is that you may wish to discuss the broad economic, social and political context for the development of modernist and post-modernist theory, for example, but instead, you must focus especially on describing and analysing the related organisation theories. The other half of the main body of the text should be devoted to discussing how each of these two perspectives (you have selected) understands the role of the manager and what constitutes a good manager. You were/will be given ideas in the lectures about how you could answer this. Your positions must be clearly argued. Use of specific examples may be helpful.

The essay must finish with a conclusion. This should summarise the argument you have made in the essay.

The marking rubric will reflect this advice – in other words you will be awarded marks depending on whether your essay broadly fits with this structure and so feels well balanced (amongst other aspects, such as content, accuracy, spelling, punctuation and grammar, etc.).

Once you have completed the essay, read it carefully – or give it to somebody else to read. Can somebody with little or no prior knowledge of organisation theory understand your argument? Are there gaps in the ‘narrative’? Is it logical and coherent? Does it answer the question? Edit your essay accordingly – this is often the most important part of good essay writing.

Focus on using paragraphs to help you develop your argument. Use paragraph breaks as you move on to each new point. Try not to make these transitions too abrupt.

Essay Plan

For the most part, the best essays start with a good plan! You are recommended to start with a plan which outlines what you will say and how you will develop your argument. Again, you may want to try explaining this to yourself this out loud (to yourself or a friend)! If you can explain what you are trying to say clearly to somebody else, it suggests that you have a good understanding. If you can’t, it may suggest something else – in which case, do more reading, go back to your lecture notes, and/or consult your workshop tutor or course leader.

Word Count

Please stay within the word count of 1,500 words. This excludes the bibliography but includes references within the text. If you go outside this word limit, this will be reflected in your marks.


Remember to use the Harvard referencing system correctly. If you fail to reference properly in your summative assignment, you will lose marks.

Briefly describe two of the three main perspectives in organization theory (Modernist, Symbolic Interpretive, Postmodern) and discuss what constitutes a good manager according to each of these perspectives.
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