organization people technology

business and management studies

assignment page

on this page assignments links
On this page, you can review current and previous assigments for the Business and Organization, Foundations of Business and Organization Behaviour modules.

For past assignments, there are some notes indicating the marking scheme, and some general comments about the scripts received.


Business and Organizations
February 2005
Business and Organizations
March 2005
Business and Organizations
February 2004
Business and Organizations
March 2004
Foundations of Business
Feb 2003
Foundations of Business
Feb 2002
Organizational Behaviour
Nov 2002
Organizational Behaviour
Nov 2001
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organization people technology

Business and Organizations - Assignment 1 - Feb 2005

veryard projects > organization and management > assignment > BO Feb 2005


You will be assigned a UK company to monitor over a period of some weeks.

The first part of your report should present your findings - the information you have collected (50% of the available marks)

  • Monitor the flow of news relating to this company. Review any announcements made by the company, and any media comments published during this period.
  • Monitor changes in the share price during this period. Where possible, relate these changes to the newsflow.

The second part of your report should present your conclusions - your interpretation of the information. (50% of the available marks)

  • Assess the extent to which the share price fluctuations can be explained by the newsflow.
  • What (if anything) does this analysis tell you about the short-term and longer-term viability of the company?

Due Date

February 15th, 2005
organization people technology

Business and Organizations - Assignment 2 - March 2004

veryard projects > organization and management > assignment > BO March 2004


Week 9 - Tuesday 15th March Thursday 17th March




Write a short analytical report, with real-life examples, to show the implications of Business Outsourcing under four headings:

Economic Implications
Ethical Implications
Social/Sociological Implications
Systems Implications

Marks will be awarded as follows: 20% of the total marks for each heading, plus 20% for the overall coherence of your report.

You may discuss information technology as a catalyst for business/organization change, but you will not gain marks from purely technological description and analysis.

Maximum: 2000 words.

organization people technology

Business and Organizations - Assignment 1 - Feb 2004

veryard projects > organization and management > assignment > BO Feb 2004


Write an essay on the viability of BSkyB as a business operation.

2500 words, to be handed into the undergraduate office by Friday February 20th.

Include references to the sources you have used.
more BSkyB


What is meant by perspective?
When you find a strongly expressed opinion on the company in question, you should be able to position this opinion. Where is this person coming from – what is their agenda – how are they looking at this? For example, a political or regulatory perspective on the broadcasting industry may yield quite different views to a commercial or investment perspective. You need to show how different perspectives produce contrasting views. In order to do this, you have to analyse at least two different perspectives.

What is meant by P/E?

P/E stands for Price/Earnings ratio – it is the current share price divided by the latest figure/estimate on earnings per share.

BBC does not have a P/E ratio because it is a public corporation funded by a licence fee, rather than a commercial company.

ITV does not yet have a P/E ratio because it has only recently been formed (by a merger between Carlton and Grenada), and no earnings figures have been published since the merger.

Can we write more than the maximum number of words?
Please don’t. The markers reserve the right to stop reading when they reach the maximum number of words, so your efforts beyond that point may be wasted.
What is the minimum number of words that we can write for the assignment?
There is no official minimum. If you can express what you need to say clearly and succinctly, there is no need to pad it out. However, if you fail to communicate the depth and intelligence of your analysis, you may not get many marks.
Is there a prescribed structure?
In this assignment, the structure is up to you. Your task is to communicate your findings and analysis as clearly as possible. You may find it helpful to you and the reader to make the structure clear, using headings and subheadings as appropriate.
Do we need to include an appendix with all information that we have gathered with the assignment?
This is optional. Source material need not be included in the word count. All material should be briefly summarized in the assignment itself, so that it is possible to make sense of the assignment without reading the appendix.
I don’t speak English very well, will this be a disadvantage?
We do not penalize incorrect English, provided we can make sense of it.
organization people technology

Business and Organizations - Assignment 2 - March 2004

veryard projects > organization and management > assignment > BO March 2004


The purpose of this assignment is for you to demonstrate what you have learned from the tutorials you have attended.

In each tutorial, we have looked at a specific case in some detail. Cases have been chosen because they illustrate some repeating themes and issues of business and organization. One of the ways you should be able to demonstrate what you have learned is to be able to apply the same kind of thinking to similar cases that you have found in your reading or picked up from the media.


Write a summary in 1500 words of the log you have kept of your tutorial assignments. Show particularly where you have found applications of the tutorials to business situations that interest you.
  1. Find at least three business stories that are interesting to you. Note where you found them and summarise each story briefly.
  2. For each story do the following two steps:
  3. Find some connection (a parallel, a contrast, a comparison, an application) between one or more of the tutorials and the story. Try to find a connection that gives a different view of the story than that taken by the original source. Document which tutorial applies and what aspect of the tutorial you are using.
  4. Say why you think the connection is relevant, interesting or important to you. This part of the assignment must be in your own words
This assignment is based on two things: What you learn from each tutorial should be recorded in a log or diary in preparation for this assignment. We may ask to see these logs and we may want to refer back to them if there are any issues with the marking.

Your background reading could also be recorded in your log but we do not require this. Note particularly when something strikes you as interesting and why.


A good summary will: We do not need you to cover every tutorial. Marks will be given for good applications of your work and for finding different types of issues to comment on. Unlike coursework assignment 1, we are looking for succinct notes on several cases, rather than an extended and carefully worded essay.


Friday March 19th.
organization people technology

Foundations of Business - Assignment - Feb 2003

veryard projects > organization and management > assignment > FOB Feb 2003

Using Internet and other sources, find recent examples of at least one merger and at least one demerger (20 marks). Use these examples to discuss mergers and demergers from the perspectives of economics (20 marks), ethics (20 marks), sociology (20 marks), and systems theory (20 marks).

Your answer may include some of the following considerations, but need not be limited to them.

Economics. How is a merger or demerger supposed to create/release economic value? What specific benefits were claimed in the examples you have found?

Ethics. What are the consequences of the merger or demerger for various categories of stakeholder?

Sociology. How does the merger or demerger redistribute power? What aspects of the merger or demerger take the longest time to implement, and why?

Systems Theory. How are mergers and demergers regulated.

Target. 2500 words. To be handed into the undergraduate office by Friday February 28th.

more Notes on Mergers and Demergers (pdf)
organization people technology

Organizational Behaviour - Assignment - Nov 2002

veryard projects > organization and management > assignment > OB Nov 2002
Task Interview Guidelines Report Guidelines



For this assignment, you will need to interview a business person or manager, and write a report.

The purpose of the assignment is to explore some of the people issues within an organization.

What is the organisation trying to do? How does the person you are interviewing try to manage that task?

Your report should describe the nature of the task facing the organization, indicate some of the issues with managing people to perform the required task(s) effectively and efficiently, and describe how the interviewee has attempted or is attempting to tackle these issues.

What other ways have you learnt to think about these same issues?

Your report should also comment on the issues and the management response from the perspective of the theories presented on the Organizational Behaviour module.


Assignment to be handed into the Undergraduate Office by Friday November 8th.

Interview Guidelines

Selecting a target

The interview should be someone who has a full-time role running a business or leading an organization. The organization may be autonomous, or it may be a clearly defined unit within a larger organization. There are no special restrictions on the type of business – it may be commercial, public sector, charity or campaigning.

The interviewee is likely to be known personally to you – perhaps a member of your own family, or a family friend.

Arranging the interview

If possible, you should try to interview the person in their workplace. However, since the interviewee will be talking about their co-workers, it may be better to find somewhere where they can speak reasonably freely, without being overheard.

Find somewhere private, quiet and not too casual. A quiet and anonymous coffee bar is okay, a noisy pub may be difficult, a sitting-room packed with other family members is completely out of the question.


You may consider the following topics. Use the topics to explore what it would be like to be expected to sort things out.

Conducting the interview

Although you may have personal ties with the interviewee, you should attempt to conduct the interview on strictly professional lines. Plan the topics you intend to cover, and be prepared to interrupt politely if the interview gets stuck.

Don’t expect the interviewee to be familiar with organization theory or jargon, and don’t use time in the interview explaining organization theory.

It’s a useful technique to switch off your mobile in front of the interviewee as the interview starts, because this sometimes prompts the interviewee to switch theirs off as well. If for some reason you really need to leave your phone on, explain that you are expecting an urgent call – but do not talk to anyone.

Keep to the allotted time, and do not overrun. When you are close to the end of your time slot (say 5-10 minutes to the end), it’s a useful technique to provide your own summary of what you have been told, and ask if there is anything important you have omitted.

Addressing Problems

You should look out for problems in people management and related issues, and for opportunities to address these problems using some of the ideas from the course.

However, do not expect problems to be easy to solve. Explore what approaches to dealing with these problems have already been attempted, and how successful these approaches were. When making recommendations, consider the conditions for these recommendations to be successfully implemented, and any likely side-effects.

While you should not devote too much time to the economic arguments, you should avoid making recommendations that are unlikely to be economically viable. (For example, if a department is grossly over-worked, you may think that the appropriate solution is simply to employ lots more people, or to introduce expensive automation. Such recommendations are unlikely to be accepted by cash-strapped organizations. However, if you can show that a relatively small expenditure can achieve a significant improvement, then you may have a better chance of acceptance.)

Report Guidelines


Maximum 3000 words.


It is your responsibility to preserve the confidentiality of any private information learned during the interview. Mark your report as confidential, and do not make unnecessary copies. If you wish to discuss your findings with other students, discuss them in general terms without disclosing the identity of the company or individuals.


Sometimes an interview doesn’t go to plan. The interview is repeatedly interrupted, or the interviewee is reluctant to be open about some of the things you wanted to talk about. Don’t despair – make your own observations about what is going on, and try to include them in your report. If a crisis breaks during the interview, then this may give you a first-class opportunity to observe a crisis at first hand.

Visible reasoning process

Maintain clear separation between the observations that the work is based on, the analysis of those observations and any recommendations put forward. There should be a clear logical progression through the following elements:

Critical distance

Don’t take everything you are told at face value. For example, if the interviewee tells you that people simply do what they are told, be open to evidence (including statements made elsewhere in the interview) that supports or contradicts this statement.

Avoid the temptation to stay close to the viewpoint of the person interviewed. As a guideline it is always useful to establish a different (though not necessarily contradictory) perspective in analysing the situation.

For instance, when a particular style of management has been adopted, you might look at your predictions of how the set of issues and problems would look from the perspective of a different management style. You don’t have to recommend the management style you are using in order to use this technique.

In some cases, you may be able to achieve some critical distance by using the viewpoints of more than one person in the organization studied.

organization people technology

Foundations of Business - Assignment - Feb 2002

veryard projects > organization and management > assignment > FOB Feb 2002

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of bureaucracy as an organizational form. Include economic, ethical, social and system-theoretic considerations. Illustrate with examples wherever possible. Maximum 2500 words.  Work to be handed in by February 25th.

Marking Scheme

The question asked about the advantages and disadvantages of bureaucracy, in four areas: economic, ethical, sociological and systems-theoretic. The marking scheme awards marks equally across the four areas. It also awards some marks for a general account and explanation of bureaucracy.

In general, we have found it much easier to award marks to students who have structured their essays in a way that matches the question, discussing each area separately.

Where students have failed to provide a clear structure to the essay, we have attempted to award marks according to the following keyword scheme.
General 20 marks nature of bureaucracy, historical trends, alternatives
Economics 20 marks efficiency, productivity, reduces transaction cost, specialization, (rational) decision-making
Ethics 20 marks agency cost, responsibility, fairness, reduces favouritism, equal opportunity, goal displacement
Social 20 marks standardization, motivation, power, authority, conflict, hostility, trust, machine-like organization, culture, clarity/visibility, surveillance
Systems Theory 20 marks communication, information flows, resistance to change, responsiveness to environment, flexibility, dysfunction, servomechanism

General strengths

Some students illustrated and explained a contrast between bureaucratic and non-bureaucratic organizations. This is an extremely useful way of showing your understanding of a topic, and such students typically received very high marks.

Many students discussed the characteristics of bureaucracy in particular countries – in some cases, these may be the country of origin for the student or his/her family. In some cases, this provided an opportunity for the student to bring in aspects of the material that had some personal significance. We welcome this, especially where the students have successfully integrated this with other material.

Many students have introduced stories – either from personal experience or from secondary sources. In general, it is always useful to illustrate the theoretical material with such examples, although some students should apply greater caution in applying these examples (see below).

There are many amusing cartoons, quotes and anecdotes about bureaucracy. A little well-chosen humour in an essay does no harm. However, you should show that you are capable of going beyond humorous soundbites.

General weaknesses

Some students presented a wholly unbalanced case. Bureaucracy is great; bureaucracy is hopeless. While it is perfectly acceptable for an essay to take sides for or against bureaucracy, this should be done only after careful consideration of the opposing arguments.

Some students seem to have based their essay on only one source. Although Weber is an important historical source for bureaucracy, you should not attempt to base your essay entirely on the views of a sociologist who was writing over a hundred years ago.

You should be careful to avoid circular reasoning. This was particularly noticeably with examples taken from secondary sources.  Here’s an example of some stupid administrative behaviour, so it must have been bureaucratic, therefore it supports my argument that bureaucracy is bad. (It’s quite possible for an organization to be incompetent without being bureaucratic.)

Don’t assume that something is bureaucratic simply because someone (who may know considerably less about bureaucracy than you do) labels it as bureaucratic. If you do an Internet search for “Bureaucracy”, you may well retrieve some dubious material from people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Such material may still have some value, but you need to process it carefully – this means filtering, interpretation and critique.

Don’t conclude too much from a single example. While analysing an example of a bureaucratic organization may indicate a possible weakness in bureaucracy, it doesn’t prove it.

Some students focused on bureaucrats rather than bureaucracy as a system. Focus on bureaucrats allows you to say something about the social and ethical aspects of bureaucracy, but not much about the economic and systems-theoretic aspects.

At university level, there is a much greater diversity of material, and much less likelihood that the person reading your essay is familiar with the same material and the same examples. It’s not good enough to throw in a diagram or mention an example without introducing it and explaining it properly.
more Misconceptions about Bureaucracy

organization people technology

Organizational Behaviour - Assignment - Nov 2001

veryard projects > organization and management > assignment > OB Nov 2001

Assignment One: Small Business Development


As a context for this assignment use one of the following:
  1. A small business you know where you can interview the owner or manager
  2. An autonomous unit of a larger business or other organization (so long as it has some scope for development by its own management) where you can interview the manager
  3. The case study provided (food wholesale business).


You have been asked to give your advice about how to develop the business. . Explore and elaborate three of the following hypotheses: Choose three issues to be addressed from the following list What is your advice? Describe the context to support your case and the three issues you have chosen. Describe how you went about developing your advice. Say what issues there may be in implementing your advice.


Maximum 1500 words.  Hand in by 10am Tuesday November 13th.

Marking scheme

50 marks for detailed account 50 marks for analysis and recommendations

Assignment Two: Perspectives on Railtrack

As a context for this assignment use press reports and public information sources on Railtrack and its stakeholders. Document your sources.

1) Describe the internal organizational behaviour issues faced by Railtrack and its successor organization. What was the effect on the internal organization of the recent rail disasters?

(30 marks)
2) Describe the external organizational behaviour issues facing Railtrack. Name ten direct and indirect external stakeholder groups with whom Railtrack must deal to be successful. What is the relationship like with each? What was the effect of recent rail disasters on these relationships?
(30 marks)
3) How do the external issues and the internal issues relate and connect? Where would you start a change programme and why?
(40 marks)


Maximum 2500 words.  Hand in by Wednesday November 28th.

General Comments on Assignments

There are some generic weaknesses we've spotted in the assignments we've looked at so far. Here are some general recommendations for the remainder of the course.

Read the question

Should go without saying. But some students completely failed to address the question as put.

Consider organizations as systems

In general the assignments do not recognise that the different aspects of an organization interact. So one aim of an organization may in practice conflict with another and one of the recommendations made in an assignment may make it more difficult to achieve another recommendation.

This is particularly true of motivation, a subject many assignments have paid attention to. The potential conflict between internal motivation, interest in doing a good job, and external motivation by targets and rewards needs a much subtler understanding. A policy that is supposed to increase motivation may very well reduce motivation in practice.

Pay attention to behaviour

This is an organizational behaviour course, so marks will be awarded for attention to these issues. Although analysis of other business and technical issues may be indirectly relevant, any material of this kind will only gain marks if it is clearly linked to organizational behaviour.

Use the course material. Refer to the theory. Give relevant examples. Explore connections.

Visible reasoning process

Many of the assignments show little separation between the observations that the work is based on, the analysis of those observations and the recommendations put forward. It is almost as though the recommendation was thought up first and then observations were made to support the recommendation.

To some extent there must be a separation of:

Clear and meaningful diagrams can enhance an argument, but you need to explain the diagrams..

Critical distance / Courage to analyse

Some assignments have displayed an unwillingness to draw conclusions from the material.

There is a general tendency to stay close to viewpoint of the person interviewed or to the reporting perspective in the supplied case study. As a guideline it is always useful to establish a different (though not necessarily contradictory) perspective in analysing the situation.

For instance, when a particular style of management has been adopted, you might look at your predictions of how the set of issues and problems would look from the perspective of a different management style. You don’t have to recommend the management style you are using in order to use this technique.

Some assignments have achieved some critical distance by using the viewpoints of more than one person in the organization studied. This is also a useful technique.

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This page last updated on January 14th, 2005
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