Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module BUSI49K30: Power, Control and Resistance in Organisations

Department: Management and Marketing

BUSI49K30: Power, Control and Resistance in Organisations

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap None.
Tied to N1A360 Doctor of Business Administration


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide students with the advanced knowledge and skills that will enable them to re-conceptualise organisational processes normally seen as “management” and “being managed” in terms of power, control and resistance.


  • Reconceptualising Management: Introducing Power, Control and Resistance
  • Introducing Critical Theorists: Marx, Foucault, Freud and Butler
  • Classic “Critical” Studies of Management
  • Cultural Representations of Management, Work and Organisation
  • Alternative practices in organising
  • Implications for organisational life
  • Research approaches that support this content – in particular, forms of participant observer research methods
  • Ethical challenges in management and organisation studies

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Have an advanced understanding of a range of Critical Theories (e.g. varieties of Marxism, feminism, post-structuralism etc.) and how they have been applied in management and organisation studies;
  • Have an advanced understanding of alternative, non-managerial/non-hierarchical ways of organising;
  • Have a critical appreciation of managers’ cultural and symbolic (not merely functional) roles;
  • Have a critical appreciation of the significance of the representation of managers and workers in cultural media – novels, films, TV etc.
  • Have an advanced understanding of ethical challenges in management and organisation studies, and the appropriate responses.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Be able to see “managerialism” as an ideology – in a variety of ways;
  • Be able to critique the “received wisdom” of mainstream management studies – especially in terms of the discipline’s power effects;
  • Be able to articulate how management practices could be different – opening possibilities for work to be less coercive and more cooperative.
  • Analytical: ability to look at organisational phenomena as exotic, arbitrary and strange – rather than as managers traditionally might see them – as rational, functional and self-evident.
  • Methodological: To be able to use methods to support this anthropologically orientated view of organisations – particularly important will be ethnography
Key Skills:
  • Ability to make an initial formulation and articulation of a potential scheme of research
  • Ability to understand and resolve the problems and issues in undertaking doctoral research
  • Ability to formulate, articulate and complete a scheme of research at doctoral level
  • Enhanced personal effectiveness
  • Effective written communication
  • Advanced skills of self-awareness and time management

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module will be delivered in a workshop format over an intensive three-day teaching block. Workshops will comprise a balanced mix of lecture- and seminar-type delivery combined with small group discussions and other activities as appropriate to the nature of the material. For example, excerpts from films will be used in order to illustrate observation-based approaches and develop students’ ability to de-familiarise organisational phenomena. Learning will also occur through tutor-supported, as well as self-support learning groups. There will also be on-line teaching support through a module blog. Finally, guided reading will address key topics. This range of methods will ensure that students will acquire the advanced skills and knowledge to enable them to develop a thorough understanding of this specialist field of study. The assessment of the module will be with an essay, designed to test students' knowledge and understanding of the subject-matter and their ability to apply it to the analysis of specific issues relating to the study of skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshop (see above) 3.5 Daily 8 hours 28
Tutor-supported Learning Group 36
Self-supported Learning group 36
Preparation & Reading 200
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Individual written assignment that develops the initial formulation and articulation of a potential scheme of research 5,000 words (maximum) 100% Same

Formative Assessment:

Towards of the end of the workshop, each student will be required to deliver a short individual presentation that demonstrates how the student might make sense of these ideas in the context of their own work place.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University