Society and Culture in Organisational Behaviour

Master Course Unit

BUSM6021 Society and Culture in Organisational Behaviour

Level: Masters

Credit points: 4

Prerequisites: none

Unit description

This unit introduces students to the study of organisational behaviour and encourages them to view organisational and individual actions within the context of contemporary society and culture. It seeks to answer the question “Why do organisations and their employees act the way they do?” by considering the broader social and cultural forces that influence human behaviour.

The unit begins with an historical overview of the development of organisational behaviour as an area of study and draws upon the work of important classical writers such as Sophocles, Aristotle, Sun Tzu, Niccolo Machiavelli, Adam Smith, and Max Weber. It also considers how organisational behaviour is reflected in contemporary culture through media such as books and writing, and film and television.

It discusses the leading theories and models that guide organisational behaviour and acknowledges that organisations are more than just ‘bricks and mortar’; they are sophisticated social structures often motivated by complex human forces, emotions and relationships.

The unit recognises the importance of ethics and values to good corporate governance and looks at what happens when this is absent in a discussion of organisational ‘dysfunction’. It considers both positive and negative behaviour by looking at real world examples such as Enron, Worldcom, Johnson & Johnson, James Hardie, HIH, and OneTel.

It seeks to develop an understanding of the forces that motivate and influence people and organisations, and to provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary to manage these forces.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit students should be able to: 

  • demonstrate advanced knowledge of organisational behaviour and development
  • critically analyse and evaluate the key concepts and theories that influence organisational behaviour and development
  • describe how specific kinds of organisational behaviour are manifested in society
  • describe how the various theories of organisational behaviour and development interact with and relate to broader business and management disciplines, and demonstrate creativity and flexibility when applying this knowledge in a work or business environment
  • identify the key resources and research techniques used in the study of organisational behaviour and theory, and apply those resources and research techniques to organisational contexts
  • think independently and apply the skills developed throughout the unit to solve complex problems
  • articulate a personal ethical stance on organisational governance and behaviour

Unit content

  • A Brief History of Organisational Behaviour
  • Organisational Structure and Design
  • Behaviour and Culture: Where Hollywood Meets Enron
  • Diversity and the Individual within the Organisation
  • Values and Ethics: The Organisational Conscience
  • Organisational Dysfunction: The Greek Tragedy of Corporate Pathology
  • Power and Politics in Organisations
  • Part 1: Empowering and Motivating the Workforce
  • Part 2: Empowering and Motivating the Workforce
  • Managing Organisational Stress
  • Part 1: Organisational Development and the Learning Organisation
  • Part 2: Organisational Development and the Learning Organisation

Unit workload

The workload for this unit is 13 hours per week.

Assignment summary



Word count


Academic Essay




Case Study




Graduate attributes

The following graduate attributes will be developed in this unit:

  • Creative self-expression
  • Reasoned criticism
  • Multiple research methodologies
  • Complex data acquisition techniques and analysis
  • Written expression and reasoned argument from empirical data
  • Evaluating possible outcomes of alternative courses of action

Recommended texts

McShane, S., Olekalns, M., & Travaglione, T. (2012). Organisational behaviour: Emerging knowledge, global insights (4th ed.). Sydney, Australia: McGraw Hill.

Academic misconduct

Ethical conduct and academic integrity and honesty are fundamental to the mission of ACAP. Academic misconduct will not be tolerated by the college. Please refer to for full details of the Academic Misconduct Policy.


This unit outline may be updated and amended from time to time. To ensure you have the correct outline please check it again at the beginning of the semester.