MBAX9121 Managing Agile Organisations - 2018

Weekly, Online
Term 3
6 Units of Credit

Offering Selection
This course outline is provided in advance of offering to guide student course selection. Please note that while accurate at time of publication, changes may be required prior to the start of the teaching session. To view other versions, visit the archives .

1. Course Details

Summary of Course

The primary aim of this course is to make you a more perceptive, better informed and effective manager in today’s organisations.
If the 20th century was seen as closely associated with the development and success of the modern industrial corporation, then the 21st century is likely to be seen as similarly associated with a new industrial order in which agile, service-oriented organisations have become the centrepiece.

Teaching Times and Locations

Please note that teaching times and locations are subject to change. Students are strongly advised to refer to the Class Timetable website for the most up-to-date teaching times and locations.

View course timetable

Course Policies & Support

Course Aims and Relationship to Other Courses

Agile organisations are focused on value creation through the enrichment and retention of individual customers – they are virtual sites for value creation through effective resource mobilisation. Because of the diverse and shifting nature of customer needs and the value to be gained by anticipating such needs, the structures, work processes and cultures of service-oriented organisations take on the quality of agility: responsiveness, flexibility, proactivity and innovation become conditions for success. 

In the new industrial order, organisations are less likely to be known in terms of their structure and hierarchy, but rather in terms of their identity and core competencies within a fluid set of alliances and arrangements for mobilising resources and creating value. Much of what managers did in hierarchical structures will be replaced by a more empowered workforce, so that the work that managers will do and how this will be performed become issues of importance.

Using current and latest concepts about managers and managing as a platform, this course seeks to reframe managerial imperatives and assist you to become a more informed and reflective manager in contemporary workplaces where oftentimes change is your only certainty.
In order to complete this course, you will need:

  • analytical and conceptual skills to enable you to analyse your organisational experience
  • critical, evaluative skills that enable you to test arguments put forward by diverse writers
  • good writing and communication skills.

This course is designated as an integrated course in your degree program and as such should not be taken early in your studies. The course looks at developing your competencies in managing people and organisations by focusing on the managerial perspectives and competencies required for the post-industrial economy.

It will build on your fundamental people and organisational management skills, and so it would be better taken after Fundamentals of People Management if you are taking that course in your program.

Additonal Course Details

2. Staff Contact Details

Position Name Email Location Phone Consultation Times

Class facilitator

The role of your Class Facilitator is to support the learning process by encouraging interaction among participants, providing direction in understanding the course content, assessing participant progress through the course and providing feedback on work submitted. Class Facilitators comprise both academics and industry practitioners with relevant backgrounds.
You will be notified of your Class Facilitator’s name and contact details in your class confirmation email sent by AGSM Student Experience. Details will also be available in the gallery section of your online class for both face-to-face and distance classes.

3. Learning and Teaching Activities

Approach to Learning and Teaching in the Course

Unit 1, A context and foundation. In this Unit, we review key literature on the nature of managerial work. We see the evolution of our view of managers and management guided by many leading researchers, but especially the notable works of Mintzberg, Kanter and Giddens, before commencing to dissect what it might mean to manage necessarily agile organisations today.
Unit 2, Organisations and organising. Adopting the same analytical approach in this Unit, we contrast understanding organisations as objects (nouns), versus processes (verbs), and argue that a process-based approach is particularly valuable.
Unit 3, Metaphors and the art of organisational analysis. In Unit 3, we elaborate on different ways to conceptualise organisations and managing. Specifically, we introduce a number of theoretical lenses, including different metaphors and world views through which organisations can be understood and analysed, thus enabling us to better conceptualise and manage their many facets and complexities.
Unit 4, Managing change. In this Unit, we gain familiarity with the various management theories introduced over time to advance analysis on the process of introducing and successfully implementing change. Those theories can provide useful frameworks for use in conjunction with our advanced organisational analysis tools gained in earlier Units here. It’s the combination that heightens perceptions and increases likelihood of change implementation success.
Unit 5, Managing commitment. Here, we point out that securing commitment in contemporary organisations is particularly challenging as there are new-age employees with different needs and desires. Also, organisations are increasingly project-driven. We outline different aspects of commitment and canvass a range of managerial options for the management of commitment.
Unit 6, Understanding the political rules. In this Unit, we discuss various sources of power, and critically evaluate the move towards empowered and team-based organisations.
Unit 7, Managing interaction. In this Unit, we consider the management of interaction within the political context and within an agile organisation as might apply between managers with their staff or between managers with other stakeholders, such as alliance partners, in better achieving the organisation’s objectives.
Unit 8, Inter-organisational alliances: creating value and anticipating risk. This Unit is the first of two on the increasing importance to agile organisations of managing inter-organisational alliances to more efficiently and effectively achieve the overall objectives. In this Unit, we focus on determining how to ascertain and enhance value from these relationships and how to ascertain and mitigate risk in forming and continuing these relationships.
Unit 9, Inter-organisational alliances: management and performance control. Having established in Unit 8 how best to determine and manage value and risk to the agile organisation of the inter-organisational alliance, we now focus in this Unit on how we might manage and control that relationship to maximise outcome. In this, game theory can play a critical part.
Unit 10, Scenario planning in today’s agile organisation, is a powerful tool enabling those managing agile organisations to ‘go with the punches’, being ready with strong alternative actions to meet changing circumstances.
Unit 11, Towards connected leadership. Here, we highlight the difference between ‘leading’ and ‘managing’, and advocate that we consider leadership as opposed to leaders. Present-day leadership might facilitate better corporate connectedness.
Unit 12, Towards greater agility and beyond, is our chance at reflection across our learning and to gather our thoughts before considering how to achieve increased agility across the organisation.

Learning Activities and Teaching Strategies

Course Structure

5. Course Resources

Learning resources

You have four major resources to help you learn:

  1. The course materials, comprising the weekly study units with readings, references, insights and commentary. You will do much of your learning outside the classroom by working through the course materials, and by completing the exercises as they arise.
  2. Your online or face-to-face classes with your facilitator. The facilitator's job is to guide your learning by conducting class discussion, answering questions that might arise after you have done the week's work, providing insights from his or her practical experience and understanding of theory, providing you with feedback on your assignments, and directing discussions and debates that will occur between you and your co-participants in the classroom.
  3. Your co-participants. Your colleagues in the classroom are an invaluable potential source of learning for you. Their work and life, and their willingness to question and argue with the course materials, the facilitator and your views, represent a great learning opportunity. They bring much valuable insight to the learning experience.
  4. In addition to course-based resources, please also refer to the AGSM Learning Guide (available in Moodle) for tutorials and guides that will help you learn more about effective study practices and techniques.

Course materials

The course materials comprise this Course Overview, the Assessment Details and 12 Units. Each Unit has a number of associated readings.


Specific readings are prescribed throughout the Units and are available via active hyperlinks or URLs. Please note that you may be required to enter your UNSW zID and zPass in order to access these hyperlinked readings.

Recommended reading


(either the listed edition or a more recent edition)

  • Bolman, L G & Deal, T E, 2013, Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership, 5th edn, Wiley.
  • ISBN 9781118573334; eBook ISBN 9781118573310
  • Handy, C, 1991, The age of unreason, Harvard Business School Press.
  • ISBN 9780875843018
  • Morgan, G, 2007, Images of organization, Sage Publications, CA.
  • ISBN 9781412939799
  • Harvard Business Review
  • Sloan Management Review
Other resources

BusinessThink is UNSW’s free, online business publication. It is a platform for business research, analysis and opinion. If you would like to subscribe to BusinessThink, and receive the free monthly e-newsletter with the latest in research, opinion and business then go to Link.

6. Course Evaluation & Development

Continual Course Improvement

Our courses are revised each time they run, with updated course overviews and assessment tasks. All courses are reviewed and revised regularly and significant course updates are carried out in line with industry developments.

The AGSM surveys students each time a course is offered. The data collected provides anonymous feedback from students on the quality of course content and materials, class facilitation, student support services and the program in general. This student feedback is taken into account in all course revisions.

Student Response

Students new to the study of managing organisational agility can take encouragement (as we do) from comments from students last time the course was delivered which related to:

  • The course having knowledgeable facilitators who were also passionate.
  • Readings that were not only interesting but also highly relevant.and relevant to practical scenarios, Inclusion of podcasts from face-to-face class discussions. 
  • The facilitated discussion where sharing experiences with other students led to a sense of how the principles of organizational agility might work.

In response to being asked about how the course could be improved students wanted: 

  • Less reading.
  • Discussion pulled back ‘ón topic’ more quickly.
  • Assignment marking that was more lenient.
  • More podcasts.

Response to Student Feedback

All comments offered by students whether an expression of what they’d like us to do more of or less of to benefit their learning is gratefully received as it feeds our aim for continuous improvement.
We’re delighted to hear the appreciation of our ‘fly on the wall’ opportunity for online students to hear podcast recordings of face-to-face class discussions where directly useful. We’ll include more of those to satisfy that wish.
We’ll make sure that our instructors don’t back off on their passion for illustrating and encouraging discussion of applying agility principles in practical business contexts.
We acknowledge the workload that can occur from readings and will aim to better indicate the value to a student of particular readings so that they might make a better informed decision to invest time considering it.
All we can say about grading leniency is that this is a highly ranked international program and all cohort submission sets are heavily moderated.  Nevertheless, we’re listening and can never be too diligent in watching standards closely …both up and down.

7. Course Schedule

For AGSM academic calendars and key dates please visit
Week Activity Topic Detail/Engagement Assessment Task
Week 1 ParticipationUnit 1: A context and foundation

Participation is assessed throughout the session (15%)

Participation : On-going Participation
Week 2 -Unit 2: Organisations and organising
Week 3 -Unit 3: Metaphors and the art of organisational analysis
Week 4 -Unit 4: Managing change
Week 5 Assessment 1Unit 5: Managing commitment

Assessment 1 due on Tuesday 16 October by 3.00pm Sydney time – report (15%)

Assessment 1 : Written Report
Week 6 -Unit 6: Understanding the political rules
Week 7 -Unit 7: Managing interaction
Week 8 -Unit 8: Inter-organisational alliances: creating value and anticipating risk
Week 9 -Unit 9: Inter-organisational alliances: management and performance control
Week 10 -Unit 10: Scenario planning in today’s agile organisation
Week 11 Assessment 2Unit 11: Towards connected leadership

Assignment 2 due on Monday 26 November by 3.00pm Sydney time – report (30%)

Assessment 2 : Written Report
Week 12 -Unit 12: Towards greater agility and beyond
Week 13 Take-home exam available in Moodle

Take-home exam available in Moodle 9.30am Monday 10 December
Take-home exam submitted in Turnitin in Week 14 9.30am Monday 17 December (40%)

Take-home exam : Exam

8. Policies and Support

Information about UNSW Business School protocols, University policies, student responsibilities and education quality and support.

Program Learning Outcomes

The Business School places knowledge and capabilities at the core of its curriculum via seven Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs). These PLOs are systematically embedded and developed across the duration of all coursework programs in the Business School.

PLOs embody the knowledge, skills and capabilities that are taught, practised and assessed within each Business School program. They articulate what you should know and be able to do upon successful completion of your degree.

Upon graduation, you should have a high level of specialised business knowledge and capacity for responsible business thinking, underpinned by ethical professional practice. You should be able to harness, manage and communicate business information effectively and work collaboratively with others. You should be an experienced problem-solver and critical thinker, with a global perspective, cultural competence and the potential for innovative leadership.

All UNSW programs and courses are designed to assess the attainment of program and/or course level learning outcomes, as required by the UNSW Assessment Design Procedure. It is important that you become familiar with the Business School PLOs, as they constitute the framework which informs and shapes the components and assessments of the courses within your program of study.

PLO 1: Business knowledge

Students will make informed and effective selection and application of knowledge in a discipline or profession, in the contexts of local and global business.

PLO 2: Problem solving

Students will define and address business problems, and propose effective evidence-based solutions, through the application of rigorous analysis and critical thinking.

PLO 3: Business communication

Students will harness, manage and communicate business information effectively using multiple forms of communication across different channels.

PLO 4: Teamwork

Students will interact and collaborate effectively with others to achieve a common business purpose or fulfil a common business project, and reflect critically on the process and the outcomes.

PLO 5: Responsible business practice

Students will develop and be committed to responsible business thinking and approaches, which are underpinned by ethical professional practice and sustainability considerations.

PLO 6: Global and cultural competence

Students will be aware of business systems in the wider world and actively committed to recognise and respect the cultural norms, beliefs and values of others, and will apply this knowledge to interact, communicate and work effectively in diverse environments.

PLO 7: Leadership development

Students will develop the capacity to take initiative, encourage forward thinking and bring about innovation, while effectively influencing others to achieve desired results.

These PLOs relate to undergraduate and postgraduate coursework programs.  Separate PLOs for honours and postgraduate research programs are included under 'Related Documents'.

Business School course outlines provide detailed information for students on how the course learning outcomes, learning activities, and assessment/s contribute to the development of Program Learning Outcomes.



UNSW Graduate Capabilities

The Business School PLOs also incorporate UNSW graduate capabilities, a set of generic abilities and skills that all students are expected to achieve by graduation. These capabilities articulate the University’s institutional values, as well as future employer expectations.

UNSW Graduate CapabilitiesBusiness School PLOs
Scholars capable of independent and collaborative enquiry, rigorous in their analysis, critique and reflection, and able to innovate by applying their knowledge and skills to the solution of novel as well as routine problems.
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 7: Leadership development

Entrepreneurial leaders capable of initiating and embracing innovation and change, as well as engaging and enabling others to contribute to change
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 6: Global and cultural competence
  • PLO 7: Leadership development

Professionals capable of ethical, self-directed practice and independent lifelong learning
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 5: Responsible business practice

Global citizens who are culturally adept and capable of respecting diversity and acting in a socially just and responsible way.
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 5: Responsible business practice
  • PLO 6: Global and cultural competence

While our programs are designed to provide coverage of all PLOs and graduate capabilities, they also provide you with a great deal of choice and flexibility.  The Business School strongly advises you to choose a range of courses that assist your development against the seven PLOs and four graduate capabilities, and to keep a record of your achievements as part of your portfolio. You can use a portfolio as evidence in employment applications as well as a reference for work or further study. For support with selecting your courses contact the UNSW Business School Student Centre.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

Academic Integrity is honest and responsible scholarship. This form of ethical scholarship is highly valued at UNSW. Terms like Academic Integrity, misconduct, referencing, conventions, plagiarism, academic practices, citations and evidence based learning are all considered basic concepts that successful university students understand. Learning how to communicate original ideas, refer sources, work independently, and report results accurately and honestly are skills that you will be able to carry beyond your studies.

The definition of academic misconduct is broad. It covers practices such as cheating, copying and using another person’s work without appropriate acknowledgement. Incidents of academic misconduct may have serious consequences for students.


UNSW regards plagiarism as a form of academic misconduct. UNSW has very strict rules regarding plagiarism. Plagiarism at UNSW is using the words or ideas of others and passing them off as your own. All Schools in the Business School have a Student Ethics Officer who will investigate incidents of plagiarism and may result in a student’s name being placed on the Plagiarism and Student Misconduct Registers.

Below are examples of plagiarism including self-plagiarism:

Copying: Using the same or very similar words to the original text or idea without acknowledging the source or using quotation marks. This includes copying materials, ideas or concepts from a book, article, report or other written document, presentation, composition, artwork, design, drawing, circuitry, computer program or software, website, internet, other electronic resource, or another person's assignment, without appropriate acknowledgement of authorship.

Inappropriate Paraphrasing: Changing a few words and phrases while mostly retaining the original structure and/or progression of ideas of the original, and information without acknowledgement. This also applies in presentations where someone paraphrases another’s ideas or words without credit and to piecing together quotes and paraphrases into a new whole, without appropriate referencing.

Collusion: Presenting work as independent work when it has been produced in whole or part in collusion with other people. Collusion includes:

  • Students providing their work to another student before the due date, or for the purpose of them plagiarising at any time
  • Paying another person to perform an academic task and passing it off as your own
  • Stealing or acquiring another person’s academic work and copying it
  • Offering to complete another person’s work or seeking payment for completing academic work

Collusion should not be confused with academic collaboration (i.e., shared contribution towards a group task).

Inappropriate Citation: Citing sources which have not been read, without acknowledging the 'secondary' source from which knowledge of them has been obtained.

Self-Plagiarism: ‘Self-plagiarism’ occurs where an author republishes their own previously written work and presents it as new findings without referencing the earlier work, either in its entirety or partially. Self-plagiarism is also referred to as 'recycling', 'duplication', or 'multiple submissions of research findings' without disclosure. In the student context, self-plagiarism includes re-using parts of, or all of, a body of work that has already been submitted for assessment without proper citation.

To see if you understand plagiarism, do this short quiz:


The University also regards cheating as a form of academic misconduct. Cheating is knowingly submitting the work of others as their own and includes contract cheating (work produced by an external agent or third party that is submitted under the pretences of being a student’s original piece of work). Cheating is not acceptable at UNSW.

If you need to revise or clarify any terms associated with academic integrity you should explore the 'Working with Academic Integrity' self-paced lessons available at:

For UNSW policies, penalties, and information to help you avoid plagiarism see: as well as the guidelines in the online ELISE tutorials for all new UNSW students: For information on student conduct see:

For information on how to acknowledge your sources and reference correctly, see: If you are unsure what referencing style to use in this course, you should ask the lecturer in charge.

Student Responsibilities and Conduct

Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to university policies in relation to class attendance and general conduct and behaviour, including maintaining a safe, respectful environment; and to understand their obligations in relation to workload, assessment and keeping informed.

Information and policies on these topics can be found on the 'Managing your Program' website.


It is expected that you will spend at least ten to twelve hours per week studying for a course except for Summer Term courses which have a minimum weekly workload of twenty to twenty four hours. This time should be made up of reading, research, working on exercises and problems, online activities and attending classes. In periods where you need to complete assignments or prepare for examinations, the workload may be greater. Over-commitment has been a cause of failure for many students. You should take the required workload into account when planning how to balance study with employment and other activities.

We strongly encourage you to connect with your Moodle course websites in the first week of semester. Local and international research indicates that students who engage early and often with their course website are more likely to pass their course.

View more information on expected workload


Your regular and punctual attendance at lectures and seminars or in online learning activities is expected in this course. The Business School reserves the right to refuse final assessment to those students who attend less than 80% of scheduled classes where attendance and participation is required as part of the learning process (e.g., tutorials, flipped classroom sessions, seminars, labs, etc.).

View more information on attendance

General Conduct and Behaviour

You are expected to conduct yourself with consideration and respect for the needs of your fellow students and teaching staff. Conduct which unduly disrupts or interferes with a class, such as ringing or talking on mobile phones, is not acceptable and students may be asked to leave the class.

View more information on student conduct

Health and Safety

UNSW Policy requires each person to work safely and responsibly, in order to avoid personal injury and to protect the safety of others.

View more information on Health and Safety

Keeping Informed

You should take note of all announcements made in lectures, tutorials or on the course web site. From time to time, the University will send important announcements to your university e-mail address without providing you with a paper copy. You will be deemed to have received this information. It is also your responsibility to keep the University informed of all changes to your contact details.

Student Support and Resources

The University and the Business School provide a wide range of support services and resources for students, including:

Business School EQS Consultation Program
The Consultation Program offers academic writing, literacy and numeracy consultations, study skills, exam preparation for Business students. Services include workshops, online resources, individual and group consultations.
Level 1, Room 1035, Quadrangle Building.
02 9385 4508

Business School Student Centre
The Business School Student Centre provides advice and direction on all aspects of admission, enrolment and graduation.
Level 1, Room 1028 in the Quadrangle Building
02 9385 3189

UNSW Learning Centre
The UNSW Learning Centre provides academic skills support services, including workshops and resources, for all UNSW students. See their website for details.
Lower Ground Floor, North Wing Chancellery Building.
02 9385 2060

Educational Support Service
Educational Support Advisors work with all students to promote the development of skills needed to succeed at university, whilst also providing personal support throughout the process. Check their website to request an appointment or to register in the Academic Success Program.
John Goodsell Building, Ground Floor.
02 9385 4734

Library services and facilities for students
The UNSW Library offers a range of collections, services and facilities both on-campus and online.
Main Library, F21.
02 9385 2650

Moodle eLearning Support
Moodle is the University’s learning management system. You should ensure that you log into Moodle regularly.
02 9385 3331

UNSW IT provides support and services for students such as password access, email services, wireless services and technical support.
UNSW Library Annexe (Ground floor).
02 9385 1333

Disability Support Services
UNSW Disability Support Services provides assistance to students who are trying to manage the demands of university as well as a health condition, learning disability or who have personal circumstances that are having an impact on their studies. Disability Advisers can arrange to put in place services and educational adjustments to make things more manageable so that students are able to complete their course requirements. To receive educational adjustments for disability support, students must first register with Disability Services.
Ground Floor, John Goodsell Building.
02 9385 4734

UNSW Counselling and Psychological Services
Provides support and services if you need help with your personal life, getting your academic life back on track or just want to know how to stay safe, including free, confidential counselling.
Level 2, East Wing, Quadrangle Building.
02 9385 5418

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