Work, Technology & Organization - About - courses

Courses Taught by WTO Faculty (Doctoral courses are 300 level)

MS&E 181 Issues in Technology and Work for a Post-Industrial Economy (Barley)

This course introduces undergraduates in Management Science and Engineering and other engineering disciplines to the study of technology and work, exploring topics of contemporary concern and identifying challenges posed by a postindustrial workplace. The course explores the question: How are changes in technology and organization are altering our work and our lives? Topics include job design, distributed and virtual organizations, the blurring of boundaries between work and family life, computer supported cooperative work, trends in skill requirements and occupational structures, monitoring and surveillance in the workplace, downsizing and its effects on work systems, project work and project-based lifestyles, the growth of contingent employment, telecommuting, electronic commerce, and the changing nature of labor relations.

MS&E 180 Organizations: Theory and Management (Hinds | Sutton)
Classical and contemporary organization theory; the behavior of individuals, groups, and organizations.

MS&E 108 Senior Project (Barley | Hinds)

Students carry out a major project in groups of four, applying techniques and concepts learned in the major. Project work includes problem identification and definition, data collection and synthesis, modeling, development of feasible solutions, and presentation of results.

MS&E 182: Work, Technology & Society (McGinn)

A seminar on work in contemporary society as influenced by rapid technological change. The course focuses on the causes and consequences of the current revolution in work and policies for grappling with resultant problems. The course emphasizes the U.S. with attention to key trends in selected foreign countries. Topics include: new technology in the workplace and its bearing on occupational and organizational changes, industrial relations, worker health and safety, economic competitiveness, women workers, workplace ethics and innovative public and private policies on work.

MS&E 185 Global Work (Hinds)

Issues, challenges, and opportunities facing workers, teams, and organizations working across national boundaries. Topics include geographic distance, time zones, language and cultural differences, technologies to support distant collaboration, team dynamics, and corporate strategy.

MS&E 197 Ethics and Public Policy (McGinn)

Ethical issues in science- and technology-related public policy conflicts. Focus is on complex, value-laden policy disputes. Topics: the nature of ethics and morality; rationales for liberty, justice, and human rights; and the use and abuse of these concepts in policy disputes. Case studies from biomedicine, environmental affairs, technical professions, communications, and international relations.

MS&E 280 Organizational Behavior: Evidence in Action (Sutton)

Organization theory; concepts and functions of management; behavior of the individual, work group, and organization. Emphasis is on case and related discussion.

MS&E 281 Management and Organization of Research and Development (Barley)

This course examines the organization of R&D in industry and the problems of the technical labor force. It acquaints students with relevant theoretical perspectives from sociology, anthropology and management theory on the social and pragmatic issues that surround technical innovation and the employment of scientists and engineers. Topics include: organization of scientific and technical communities, industrialization of research, the nature of scientific and technical work, strategies for fostering innovation, careers of scientists and engineers, and managerial problems characteristic of R&D settings.

MS&E 288/ME 228 Creating Infectious Action (Sutton)

Offered by the d.school. Teams of master's students from disciplines including engineering, design, business, behavioral sciences, and education attempt to spread positive behavior through projects that include spreading the adoption of the Firefox web browser, applying methods from hip hop to fuel the spread of fads, and spreading financially responsible individual behavior. Industry experts and academics provide guidance.

MS&E 289 Clicks and Bricks: Creating Customer Experiences (Sutton)

Project-based; offered by the d.school. Interdisciplinary student teams develop and build prototype solutions to improve offline and online customer service experiences.

MS&E 381A. Doctoral Research Seminar in Work, Technology, and Organization: Theoretical Underpinnings (Barley)

This is a readings course for graduate students interested in the study of technology and work. Although the content varies from year to year, emphasis is placed on books and papers that are foundational for work and technology studies.

MS&E 383. Doctoral Seminar on Ethnographic Research (Barley)

This seminar is designed as a basic field methods course for graduate students (and upper level undergraduates with permission of instructor). Ethnosemantic interviewing and participant observation are emphasized. Students learn and practice techniques for taking, managing and analyzing fieldnotes and other qualitative data. Students are required to conduct research during the course and must be willing to spend up to 15 hours per week outside class collecting and analyzing their own data. Methods texts and ethnographies are used respectively to illustrate how to analyze and communicate ethnographic data. 

MS&E 384. Groups and Teams (Hinds)

Research on groups and teams in organizations from the perspective of organizational behavior and social psychology. Topics include group effectiveness, norms, group composition, diversity, conflict, group dynamics, temporal issues in groups, geographically distributed teams, and intergroup relations. 

MS&E 386. Behavioral Aspects of Computer Supported Cooperative Work (Hinds)

Research on behavioral aspects of computer supported cooperative work. Topics include knowledge management, awareness and awareness systems, group decision support, cooperation and collaboration, effects of computer mediated communications on interpersonal relationships, and geographically distributed work.

MS&E 430. Tools for Experience Design (Hinds)

Interdisciplinary, project-based, studio course to create innovative tools for designers and for future d.school use. Focus is on empathy with the experience of designers. Field visits, guest speakers, case studies.

MS&E 485. Crosscultural Design (Hinds)

Project-based. The design of products and services for a global world. How to design products or services to be used across cultures, how to design for a culture other than one's own, and how the process of design is approached in different cultures. 

Designing Modern Work Organizations (Valentine)

This practice-based experiential lab course is geared toward MS&E masters students. Students will master the concepts of organizational design, with an emphasis on applying them to modern challenges (technology, growth, globalization, and the modern workforce).  Students will also gain mastery of skills necessary for success in today’s workplace (working in teams, communicating verbally, presenting project work).  Guest speakers from industry will present real-world challenges related to class concepts.  Students will complete a quarter-long analysis of the design of an actual organization. 

MS&E488: Prototyping & Rapid Experimentation Lab (Hinds)

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Popular Doctoral Courses Outside WTO

EDUC 288X/SOC 366 Organizational Behavior and Analysis (McFarland)
Principles of organizational behavior and analysis; theories of group and individual behavior; organizational culture; and applications to school organization and design.

EDUC 316/SOC 369 Network Analysis of Formal and Informal Organizations (McFarland)
The educational applications of social network analysis. Introduction to social network theory, methods, and research applications in sociology. Network concepts of interactionist (balance, cohesion, centrality) and structuralist (structural equivalence, roles, duality) traditions are defined and applied to topics in small groups, social movements, organizations, communities.

EDUC 375A/SOC 363A Seminar on Organizational Theory (Powell)
The social science literature on organizations assessed through consideration of the major theoretical traditions and lines of research predominant in the field.

EDUC 375B/SOC 363B Seminar on Organizations: Institutional Analysis (Powell)
Key lines of inquiry on organizational change, emphasizing network, institutional, and evolutionary arguments.

EDUC 377/GSBGEN 346 Comparing Institutional Forms: Public, Private, and Nonprofit (Powell)
The missions, functions, and capabilities of nonprofit, public, and private organizations. Focus is on sectors with significant competition among institutional forms, including health care, social services, the arts, and education. Sources include scholarly articles, cases, and historical materials.

EDUC 378X Seminar on Social Change Processes and Organizations (Meyerson)
Theories of social change and influence processes within and through organizations. Social change organizations. The interaction of philanthropic institutions and other social change organizations within civil society. Meso-level theories of change.

OB 601 Organizational Ecology
This seminar examines theoretical and methodological issues in the study of the ecology of organizations. Particular attention is given to the dynamics that characterize the interface between organizational populations and their audiences.

OB 671/SOC 361 Social Psychology of Organizations (Lowery)
This seminar focuses on social psychological theories and research relevant to organizational behavior. It reviews the current research topics in social psychology and links these theories to micro-organizational behavior. Topics include models of attribution, choice and decision making, intergroup behavior, stereotyping, and social influence.

OB 672/SOC 362. Organization & Environment
This seminar considers the leading sociological approaches to analyzing relations of organizations and environments, with a special emphasis on dynamics. Attention is given to theoretical formulations, research designs, and results of empirical studies.

OB 673/SOC 363. Intersections of Social Psychology of Organizational Studies (Martin)
This course examines individual and group behavior within organizations. It focuses on topics relevant to organizational behavior, drawing on both social psychological and sociological research. Students discuss how theories and methods change as levels of analysis change, with most focus at the organizational, "meso" (intermediate between micro and macro) level of analysis. Topics vary from year to year, but may include: organizational learning or routines; power; emotions in organizations; diversity and demography; organizational identity and legitimacy; culture; contagion and diffusion. Papers and discussion focus on theory development processes, and writing journal articles.

OB 674/SOC 376. Research in Strategy and Organizations
This course examines the interaction between organizations and their environments. It is a seminar on theories of organizational adaptation. The course examines ideas of organizational learning, evolution, selection, and change. The focus is on a select number of models and ideas examined in detail. The seminar is run as a workshop where participants have opportunities to develop their own ideas, theories, models, and speculations. The purpose is to improve skills in theory building but also to improve the ideas and theories of participants in the course.

OB 676. Seminar on Social and Political Processes in Organizations
This seminar focuses on cognition, attitudes, and behavior in organizations, drawing on social psychological and sociological research at the "meso" (intermediate between micro and macro) level of analysis. Topics vary from year to year, but usually include organizational learning and decision making; power and conflict; emotions in organizations; mobility, and stratification; gender inequality and discrimination; networks; organizational justice and legitimacy; cultural perspectives on organizations, and related topics.

SOC 314. Economic Sociology (Granovetter)
Classical and contemporary literature covering the sociological approach to markets and the economy, and comparing it to other disciplines. Topics: consumption, labor, professions, industrial organization, and the varieties of capitalism; historical and comparative perspectives on market and non-market provision of goods and services, and on transitions among economic systems. The relative impact of culture, institutions, norms, social networks, technology, and material conditions.

SOC 324. Social Networks (Hillmann)
How the study of social networks contributes to sociological research. Application of core concepts to patterns of relations among actors, including connectivity and clusters, duality of categories and networks, centrality and power, balance and transitivity, structural equivalence, and blockmodels. Friendship and kinship networks, diffusion of ideas and infectious diseases, brokerage in markets and organizations, and patronage and political influence in historical contexts.

SOC 367. Institutional Analysis of Organizations (Scott)
Research on the nature, origins, and effects of the modern institutional system. Emphasis is on the effects of institutional systems on organizational structure.

SOC 370B. Social Interaction and Group Process (Zelditch)
Analyses of social solidarity and group processes derived from thinkers such as Durkheim, Simmel, and Mead. Antecedent ideas in foundational works traced through contemporary theory and research on small group processes, social networks, group identification, and related subjects.

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