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Unit information: Organisational Complexity in 2018/19

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Unit name Organisational Complexity
Unit code EFIMM0036
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Ms. Ballard
Open unit status Not open

Successful completion of the three Certificate units: Leadership, Strategy and Organisation and Understanding Change and Uncertainty



School/department School of Economics, Finance and Management
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit will introduce students to the various sources of complexity in modern organisations. Typical organisational responses will be reviewed along with tools from the world of systems thinking which can be employed to improve these responses.

In particular, the unit will introduce:

  • The use of systems mapping diagrams to confront dynamic complexity in strategic management
  • The use of problem structuring methods to develop collaborative understanding between stakeholders
  • The use of continuous and event-based methods to simulate organisational operations and test improvements

Examples will be drawn from strategic issues in business, the public sector and economic policy. Tools will be introduced to help students to construct dynamic diagrams which represent real world situations.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Understand issues relating to organisational complexity and the tools which might be employed to deal with this
  • Critically evaluate the use of problem structuring methods in improving collaboration between stakeholders
  • Identify and use methods and tools to simulate and represent real world situations

Teaching details

Lectures supported by interactive workshops, case studies and small group seminars

Assessment Details

An individual written assignment of 4000 words will assess students’ ability to examine and critically evaluate current research into one of the key concepts explored during the unit. Students will be expected not only to analyse the core issues relating to contemporary thinking, but also to synthesise these with current practice – either from their own direct experience, or drawn from other relevant examples.

Reading and References


Jackson MC (2003) Systems thinking: creative holism for managers. Wiley

Sherwood, D(2002) “Seeing the Forest for the Trees” Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Balle, M (1994) “Managing with Systems Thinking” McGraw Hill.

Senge, P.M. (1990) “The Fifth Discipline” Doubleday

Brailsford S, Churilov L and Dangerfield B (Eds ) (2014) ‘Discrete Event Simulation and System Dynamics for Management Decision Making’, Wiley. Chapter 3: section on Systems Thinking only.


Dangerfield, B (1999) “System Dynamics Applications to European Health Care Issues”, Journal of the Operational Research Society, Vol.50, No.4, pp.345-353. Reprinted in: “Operational Research for Emergency Planning in Healthcare – Vol 2”, N Mustafee (Ed.), Palgrave Macmillan, 296-315, 2016.