Spring 2018

Sustainable Change: Managing Organizational Culture to Achieve Leadership Goals

Spring 2018
Course Number: 
DYNM 639 001
Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm


Course Permits for Non-DYNM Students: https://www.sas.upenn.edu/lps/graduate/dynamics/course-permit
Primary Program: 
Organizational Dynamics
Course Note: 
DYNM Category: F; DYNM Concentrations: LMC, SD. Course Schedule: 1/20, 2/3, 2/24, 3/17, 3/31, 4/14
Course Description: 

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast," as management guru Peter Drucker famously said. We know that leaders who can effectively manage their organization's culture are better at adapting to market trends, retaining employees, and engaging external stakeholders who demand more corporate transparency and social responsibility. Yet most of us find it difficult to understand what culture really is, let alone manage it successfully. This challenge is magnified at a time when technological and demographic trends have made organizational boundaries more porous and ambiguous than ever, threatening to make traditional models of top-down change management ineffective. 

This course will therefore take a bottom-up, contextual approach to helping students understand and manage organizational culture in order to achieve their strategic and career goals. We will start with the individual, learning how culture works to shape organizational politics. We will discuss ways in which students can develop strategies for navigating organizational culture to achieve their career goals. We will then move to the group level, examining how cultural barriers form between teams, functions, and divisions, harming communication and coordination. The final section of the course will build to the organization level and provide students with a toolkit for creating strategies to achieve sustainable cultural change. The course will be heavily focused on practical application: students will conduct semester-long cultural research/consulting projects with organizations located in Philadelphia. We will also apply course frameworks and tools to case studies of leaders attempting to create sustainability-oriented cultures in their organizations.