NYU Stern School of Business

Undergraduate College


Spring 2011

Instructor Details

Polman, Evan


By appointment

Tisch 701C


Course Meetings

TR, 8:00am to 9:15am

Tisch T-UC21

Final Exam:

Schedule exceptions
    Class will not meet on:
    Class will meet on:


Course Description and Learning Goals

Course Description
This course highlights the critical components involved in analyzing the strategy, structure, and culture of an organization, as well as issues related to leading, motivating, and influencing people. The goal of the course is to provide the tools to analyze, diagnose, and respond to both fundamental and complex organizational situations. The course also provides opportunities for students to enhance their communication and interpersonal skills, both of which are essential to effective management and to success in the workplace. A variety of methods are used to encourage learning, including cases, lectures, exercises, discussions, and individual and small group projects.

Course Website
All students should register at the course website: http://sternnewclasses.nyu.edu. Note that several sections of this course are taught simultaneously by more than one professor, so be sure to register for the correct course (C50.0001.04). The course website will contain lecture slides and other materials. You should note that everything I say in lecture will not be on the slides and you are responsible for all of the content delivered in lecture. In other words, lecture slides are not a substitute for attending class. Students’ grades will also be posted on the website throughout the


Course Outline

Course Schedule
Week 1: Introduction
January 25 – Course Overview
January 27 – Class Cancelled

Week 2: Judgment & Decision Making
February 01 – Lecture
February 03 – Case Discussion (Mount Everest)

Week 3: Social Influence & Persuasion
February 08 – Lecture
February 10 – Case Discussion (OPower)

Week 4: Negotiations & Bargaining
February 15 – Lecture
February 17 – Class Exercise

Week 5: Motivation, Goals & Incentives
February 22 – Lecture
February 24 – Case Discussion (Engstrom Auto Mirror Plant)

Week 6: Groups & Teams
March 01 – Lecture
March 03 – Case Discussion (Army Crew Team)

Week 7: Strategy Formulation & Implementation
March 08 – Lecture
March 10 – Case Discussion (Netflix)

Week 8: Spring Break
March 15 – No Class
March 17 – No Class

Week 9: Competitive Advantage & Industry Analysis
March 22 – Lecture
March 24 – Case Discussion (Imax)

Week 10: Organizational Structure & Bureaucracy
March 29 – Lecture
March 31 – Case Discussion (Executive Decision Making at General Motors)

Week 11: Organizational & Social Networks
April 05 – Lecture
April 07 – Case Discussion (Facebook’s Platforms)

Week 12: Culture & Climate
April 12 – Lecture
April 14 – Case Discussion (Deloitte & Touche (A): A Hole in the Pipeline)

Week 13: Innovation & Creativity
April 19 – Lecture
April 21 – Case Discussion (Design Thinking and Innovation at Apple)

Week 14: Leadership & Followership
April 26 – Lecture
April 28 – Case Discussion (GE’s Two-Decade Transformation: Jack Welch's Leadership)

Week 15: Group Presentations & Final Exam
May 03 – Group Presentations (all students must attend)
May 05 – Final Exam


Key Dates and Deadlines
March 01 – Groups formed for Group Project
March 08 – Individual Essay due in class (may hand in 2 weeks in advance for feedback)
March 24 – Group Project one-page proposal due in class
April 04-08 – Org. Research Assignment (Option 1: MOA Subject Pool Lab Participation)
May 03 – Group Presentations (all students must attend)
May 05 – Final Exam
May 09 – Org. Research Assignment due at 5PM (Option 2: Research Proposal Report)
May 13 – Group Project due by 5PM


Required Course Materials

Required readings can be found in the coursepack. To purchase the coursepack for $43.45, visit this link: http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/access/7809283 and register for an account. The course schedule (starting on p. 7 of this syllabus) indicates when each reading should be read.


Assessment Components

Course Evaluation
Evaluation of your performance will be based on a combination of individual and group efforts. The weighting of each of these components of the final grade is shown below:
Participation 23%
Individual Essay 25%
Group Project 25%
Final Exam 25%
Organizational Research Assignment 2%

Course Requirements
Details about each of the course components are provided below:

A) Participation (23%) – Roughly half of this course will comprise of case studies, such that in a typical week, the Tuesday class will be a lecture, and the Thursday class will be a case study discussion that is related to the previous (Tuesday) lecture. In other words, a large portion of this class will be applying concepts discussed in lecture to real world situations. Attendance will be taken each week, but to get a good grade, you must also do the required case readings in advance, and actively engage in the case discussions and exercises. During case discussions, the quality as well as the quantity of your participation is important. Fewer thoughtful, integrative comments are more valuable than talking often without saying very much. Valuable comments are those that address the issues under discussion directly, integrate concepts or different perspectives, demonstrate critical thinking, provide relevant examples, or pose insightful questions.

B) Individual Essay (25%) – For this assignment, you are to select one of the twelve topics discussed in class (for a list of topics, see the Course Schedule on p. 7) and review and discuss the current literature with regard to that topic. You should include at least five literature sources with at least three of these being from scholarly/peer reviewed journals. The paper should be 3-5 doublespaced pages of text in 12 point font, Times New Roman, with 1 inch margins. This assignment is due in class on March 8, however, you may submit a draft two weeks in advance and receive feedback with suggestions on how to improve your essay. Although this assignment might seem like a lot of work, it will potentially help you in completing the Group Project.

C) Group Project (25%) – This assignment is designed to (a) provide you with an opportunity to apply management and organizational concepts to a contemporary issue in a real organizational setting of your choice, (b) give you practice working in a group, and (c) offer you an opportunity to stand up and deliver a formal presentation in front of an audience in a safe and supportive classroom environment. Students will be randomly assigned to project groups of 6 persons each in class on March 1. The teams will meet to exchange contact and scheduling information, plan meeting times and begin discussing the team project. Group members will jointly conduct the group project. The group will make a 5-7 minute presentation to the class on May 3 and will co-author a 12-15 page paper due on May 13. The group presentation will account for 10% of your group project grade and the paper will account for 90% of your group project grade. All members of the group will receive the same grade for the group project with rare exceptions made in cases of freeriding. Your team is to study a real organization making use of the concepts described in the course. You should hone in on one of the twelve topics discussed (for a list, see the Course Schedule on p. 7), and select one that interests your group and is relevant to the organization you are studying. Your study should be analytical and issue oriented, not merely descriptive. You should adopt the clinical pose of a management consultant, endeavoring to understand the organization, to identify its
strengths and weaknesses and ultimately to propose actions that solve problems and improve performance. The group project is time consuming and a major portion of the course and what you will get out of it. You should therefore begin thinking about possible organizations to study NOW and begin
working on your project as soon as your group is assigned. Specifically, you should do the following:

1) Select an organization to study. It can be a for-profit organization of any size that consists of employees, volunteers, students, or hobbyists. An important criterion to consider in choosing your organization is accessibility—you need to have a contact person who will cooperate with your study and give you access to needed information.
2) Establish a contact person. Choose someone in the organization who can grant you access to organizational information and members. Tell that contact person you wish to study their organization for this class and obtain their permission to do so. If you already have a problem or issue in mind, run that by your contact person and see if s/he is comfortable having you study it and thinks it is relevant to the organization. If s/he says no or you do not have a problem or issue in mind, ask your contact person for suggestions given what s/he knows about the organization.
3) Select a particular issue of the twelve issues discussed in class (for a list, see the Course Schedule on p. 7). If you think you might be interested in a topic covered later in the semester, read ahead to check it out.
4) Gather relevant information. Familiarize yourself with the organization. You should interview your contact person and may want to ask him or her for relevant materials (e.g. organization charts, demographic information, annual reports, statements of corporate goals). Web and library sources of information may also be useful. It is important to interview or survey other members of the organization who are representative of the employees who are part of or affected by the organizational issue you are studying. Use what you have learned or read from the course to guide what information is “relevant” and what questions to ask given your topic of interest.
5) Analyze your problem or issue. Given the information you have gathered about the organization and your interview and/or survey analysis, try to draw some conclusions about the issue you are studying. Draw on the management and organizational literature relevant to your topic to help you analyze it. Your analysis should be clear, logical and based on what you’ve learned from the class.
6) Generate suggested solutions. Given your analysis of the problem, generate key steps the organization can take to improve any problems and build on any strengths. Your suggestions should involve things the organization could actually do given its constraints. It might be helpful to first lay out all possible solutions, including the ideal ones in a world without constraints, and then select from those, attempting to approximate ideal ones. Your suggestions should be based whenever possible on general and guiding principles learned in this course.
7) At the beginning of class on March 24, your group should submit a one page proposal that lists your group members, the organization you are studying, the job title of your contact person, and a brief description of the issue you will study. On May 3, groups will present their projects to the class—presentations should each be 5-7 minutes. A final draft of the group project paper is due in my mailbox on May 13 by 5PM. The paper should be 12-15 typed pages (double-spaced and numbered; 12 point font, Times New Roman, with 1 inch margins). Below are the main sections that should be covered in the paper. The number of pages suggested is to give you a general idea of the proportion of space that should be allocated to each section.

Title Page (p. 1)
Title of paper, class, professor, date, authors

Introduction (pp. 1-2)
Describe the organization you studied: its purpose, location, age, size, industry, structure, etc.

Issue/Problem (pp. 1-2)
Organizational issue you studied: brief history within the organization, why it is relevant to the organization.

Method (pp. 1-2)
Methods you used to study your organization, your contact person, whether you used interviews and/or surveys (include who you interviewed or surveyed, how
many, and the questions you asked), web or library information, organizational charts, etc.

Results/Analysis (pp. 4-5)
Aggregate responses to surveys, interview themes and quotes, and conclusions about the issue.

Solution (pp. 3-4)
Recommended solution(s): What should be done? What can be done better? Who will gain from the plan you suggest? Who will lose from the plan? What are
the potential benefits of the plan you propose? Why will it solve the problem or address the issue? What course materials provide evidence that your plan will
work? What led to these solutions? What constraints did you have to take into account? In this section it will be particularly important to draw specifically and
extensively on the course material.

Limitations (pp.1-2)
Possible limitations of the study and solutions: What additional information would be nice to have? What other method(s) would you use if you could? How
might your contact person have affected your conclusions and recommendations? What constraints might you encounter in implementing the
changes? Who might resist your suggestions and why? What alternatives would your propose to address these constraints?

List of books, chapters and/or articles cited in the text. Note: When drawing on literature, be sure to cite it in the text by listing the authors’ last names and the
date of publication (e.g. Polman & Zhang, 2011).

Data, charts, figures, interview questions and answer excerpts.

D) Final Exam (25%) – TBD

E) Organizational Research Assignment (2%) – Sound management practice is informed by academic research, where studies are conducted to examine basic psychological processes that play out in the workplace. In class we will discuss the research process in management and organizational science. You can obtain credit for the Organizational Research Assignment through either of following two options (you choose Option 1 or Option 2 – you will not get credit for doing both), and it is designed to enrich your understanding of the value of research to the formulation of sound management practice.

Option 1: Subject Pool Lab Participation. The first option is participation in the Management Department Subject Pool. This gives you an opportunity to be part of management research in action and later evaluate it with the advantage of firsthand experience. With this option, you will be a participant in a 1-hour session of research experiment(s) currently being conducted by Management Department faculty. (Note that while the people running the studies are usually Ph.D. students or other research assistants, they are conducting the research for or with members of the Management Department faculty, who supervise them closely.) When you show up for a study, someone at the lab will seat you and record your attendance in the sign-up system so that you receive credit for this
assignment, but note that your responses in the experiment cannot be connected to your identity in any way. Once these studies are finished, you will receive written debriefings.
Participation in the Subject Pool is easy and should be enjoyable for most students. It only requires signing up for a session, showing up at the Stern Behavioral Lab (Tisch LC-26), and following instructions. However, while the experiments are usually fun, you should take them seriously and provide honest and careful responses to all questions you are comfortable answering. Sign-ups will occur on-line several days before the subject pool, which will run April 4-8. Please note that the web-based sign up sheets do not reveal the identity of yourself or anyone else who will be participating in the experiment. I will
announce when sign-ups become available for the experiment.
At the beginning the experimental session, you will be informed of what the study is about, what your rights are as a participant in the study, and any risks or benefits of participation in the experiment. You will be asked to read and sign a consent form, stating that you agree to participate in the experiment. You will be given one copy of the consent form to keep. If you prefer not to participate in the experiment or it you withdraw from the study once you begin, you may complete the research proposal assignment described below (“Option 2”) and will receive the same credit as if you had completed the experiment.
Please see me if you are under 18 and would like to participate in the lab research (“Option 1”) for your class requirement. It is a Federal law and University requirement that you provide a signed consent form from your parent or legal guardian before you can be a research participant. I will provide you with a copy of the parental consent form for each experiment, which must be read and signed by your parent or legal guardian. The form must then be returned to me prior to your participating in the experiment. (Note that you do not need parental consent if you choose the Research Proposal “Option 2” assignment described

Option 2: Research Proposal Report. This option is to write a research proposal. The assignment involves writing a report on a research proposal and will give you additional experience with organizational research and its application to management practice. The assignment is due the last day of the semester, May 9 by 5PM in my mailbox. No exceptions will be made, so please plan ahead. To complete this assignment, refer to the article “Theory and research: Tools for learning about behavior in organizations” on Blackboard. Based on the material covered in class and that reading, this assignment involves developing a research question and designing a study (either an experiment or a survey) to test that research question. Your research question should draw on class material, current events, or personal experience, and any topic that is relevant to MOA is fine. Your question should also define the focus of the study you design and the report you write. Prepare a two-page report (double-spaced) that clearly describes your research question and the proposed study you would design in order to test your hypothesis, addressing the following questions:
1. What is your proposed question / hypothesis?
2. Why is it interesting and important for management practice?
3. How will you test your question (including the sample, research approach and design, data collection and measurement)?
4. What are the strengths/weaknesses of this method for answering your question/ testing your hypothesis?
Note that you do not need to actually collect any data – just write up a description for a study that answers the four questions above.

Final Grades
Grades in a case-based class should reflect how well students develop as organizational analysts and problem-solvers. Your development in the course will depend on many factors, not the least of which is your diligence in preparing for and participating in class discussions, as well as the effort you devote to the various assignments. In undergraduate core courses, the Stern School has the following guidelines for letter grades:
25-35% of students can expect to receive A’s
50-70% of students can expect to receive B’s
5-15% of students can expect to receive C’s
While the School uses these ranges as a guide, I will make sure the actual course grade distribution and your own grade depends upon how well you develop your organizational problem identifying and problem-solving skills over the semester.

Late Assignments
All non-excused late assignments will be penalized 10% of the points available for each 24-hour interval that assignments are late, and must be turned in by the beginning of class one week from the due date. Assignments more than one week late will not be accepted. Any late assignment accompanied by a doctor’s note excusing the student from class on the day due and submitted in a timely manner will be excused. In addition, excuses will be granted for justifiable reasons when asked for in advance of the assignment’s due date.

Make-up Final Exam
A make-up final exam is only allowed for emergency (non-predictable) medical reasons (i.e., prescheduled medical or dental appointments do not count). A note from a medical doctor excusing you from school on the examination day must accompany any request for a make-up examination.


Group Projects

Guidelines for Group Projects

Business activities involve group effort. Consequently, learning how to work effectively in a group is a critical part of your business education.

Every member is expected to carry an equal share of the group’s workload. As such, it is in your interest to be involved in all aspects of the project. Even if you divide the work rather than work on each piece together, you are still responsible for each part. The group project will be graded as a whole:   its different components will not be graded separately. Your exams may contain questions that are based on aspects of your group projects.

It is recommended that each group establish ground rules early in the process to facilitate your joint work including a problem-solving process for handling conflicts. In the infrequent case where you believe that a group member is not carrying out his or her fair share of work, you are urged not to permit problems to develop to a point where they become serious. If you cannot resolve conflicts internally after your best efforts, they should be brought to my attention and I will work with you to find a resolution.

You will be asked to complete a peer evaluation form to evaluate the contribution of each of your group members (including your own contribution) at the conclusion of each project. If there is consensus that a group member did not contribute a fair share of work to the project, I will consider this feedback during grading.



At NYU Stern we seek to teach challenging courses that allow students to demonstrate their mastery of the subject matter.  In general, students in undergraduate core courses can expect a grading distribution where: 

Note that while the School uses these ranges as a guide, the actual distribution for this course and your own grade will depend upon how well you actually perform in this course.



The process of assigning grades is intended to be one of unbiased evaluation. Students are encouraged to respect the integrity and authority of the professor’s grading system and are discouraged from pursuing arbitrary challenges to it.

If you believe an inadvertent error has been made in the grading of an individual assignment or in assessing an overall course grade, a request to have the grade re-evaluated may be submitted. You must submit such requests in writing to me within 7 days of receiving the grade, including a brief written statement of why you believe that an error in grading has been made.


Professional Responsibilities For This Course




In-class contribution is a significant part of your grade and an important part of our shared learning experience. Your active participation helps me to evaluate your overall performance.
You can excel in this area if you come to class on time and contribute to the course by:




Classroom Norms


Stern Policies

General Behavior
The School expects that students will conduct themselves with respect and professionalism toward faculty, students, and others present in class and will follow the rules laid down by the instructor for classroom behavior.  Students who fail to do so may be asked to leave the classroom. 


Collaboration on Graded Assignments
Students may not work together on graded assignment unless the instructor gives express permission. 


Course Evaluations
Course evaluations are important to us and to students who come after you.  Please complete them thoughtfully.


Academic Integrity

Integrity is critical to the learning process and to all that we do here at NYU Stern. As members of our community, all students agree to abide by the NYU Stern Student Code of Conduct, which includes a commitment to:

The entire Stern Student Code of Conduct applies to all students enrolled in Stern courses and can be found here:

Undergraduate College: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/uc/codeofconduct
Graduate Programs: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/studentactivities/involved.cfm?doc_id=102505

To help ensure the integrity of our learning community, prose assignments you submit to Blackboard will be submitted to Turnitin.  Turnitin will compare your submission to a database of prior submissions to Turnitin, current and archived Web pages, periodicals, journals, and publications.  Additionally, your document will become part of the Turnitin database.


Recording of Classes

Your class may be recorded for educational purposes


Students with Disabilities

If you have a qualified disability and will require academic accommodation of any kind during this course, you must notify me at the beginning of the course and provide a letter from the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD, 998-4980, www.nyu.edu/csd) verifying your registration and outlining the accommodations they recommend.  If you will need to take an exam at the CSD, you must submit a completed Exam Accommodations Form to them at least one week prior to the scheduled exam time to be guaranteed accommodation.


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