Spring 2018

Organizational Culture Change: Theory and Practice

Spring 2018
Course Number: 
DYNM 661 001
Monday 6:00pm-9:00pm
Saturday 9:00am-5:00pm


Non-DYNM students must complete a course permit request: https://www.sas.upenn.edu/lps/graduate/dynamics/course-permit
Primary Program: 
Organizational Dynamics
Course Note: 
DYNM Category: A; DYNM Concentration: LMC. Course Schedule: This course will meet on specific Monday evenings and Saturdays. Exact dates are listed below.
Course Description: 

The importance of organizational culture as a factor that can influence organizational performance either positively or negatively gained renewed attention beginning in the mid-1990s. The success of high-profile firms with “quirky cultures” such as Southwest Airlines and the entrepreneurial cultures of high tech firmst, along with the rise of interest in companies that have created “Great Places to Work”, with associated awards programs have generated recognition that organizational culture can be a major factor contributing to organizational performance. The related emergence of “high performance organizations”, acknowledgment that organization culture can trump the implementation of organizational strategy, competition among companies to attract the best employees, and the failure of many financially promising mergers and acquisitions all pointed to the importance of understanding and intentionally managing organizational culture.   

This course will address many of the major debates about organizational culture as well as provide students with tools for better assessing and understanding organizational culture and leading and managing culture change. Course material and discussions will consistently address issues related to both theory and practice. 

The course will begin by engaging the debate about how to define organizational culture and what key factors determine culture as well as asking, "What evidence is there that culture really matters?” We will begin the second section of the course by examining both the theoretical and applied literature on organizational culture change.  One of the central questions in the organizational culture debate is whether a culture, particularly of a large organization, really can be changed significantly. During the last section of the course, the class will discuss individual, personal change management as a major factor in successful organizational change; other factors that are essential in most successful culture change efforts; barriers that can be expected; predictable but unintended side-effects of culture change efforts; and strategies for overcoming barriers and managing potential side-effects. Finally, students in this class will apply what they have learned about organizational culture change to their own organizations.

Course meeting schedule: 

Mondays: 1/10, 29; 2/19*; 3/5, 12*

Saturdays: 1/20; 2/10, 24; 3/24

*Indicates course meeting is via conference call.