Organizational Behaviour

COMM 251/3.0

This course introduces students to the study of human behaviour in organizations. The purpose is to provide a coherent account of the causes and consequences of organizational behaviour. Lectures, discussions, cases and exercises will be used to broaden the students' understanding of working environments. Whenever possible, students' own employment experiences will be drawn upon as a basis for understanding the concepts discussed.


The study of human behaviour in organizational and other work settings. Students can expect to broaden their understanding of the complex factors that influence individual and group behaviour in working environments. Theories, models and research will be examined to help us to understand the following topics: commitment and loyalty, absence and turnover, work motivation, work stress, job insecurity, leadership and power, groups and teams, part-time and contingent work.

This course is not open to students enrolled in the Commerce Program.


Included below is the method of evaluation that will be used to assess your learning outcomes for Commerce 251 Org Behaviour. I have provided you additional details as to what my expectations will be with each deliverable.

All deliverables are to be uploaded via MOODLE or normally completed no later than midnight (Eastern Standard Time) Friday of the same week. Please be aware that unless otherwise arranged, late assignments and reports will receive a mark of zero.

1 - Critical Reading and Information tests (4 each worth 5%)20%
2 - Case Study Assignments (3 cases each worth 25%)75%
3 - Participation in online Discussion forum5%


These tests will assist you as you do your weekly readings and in verifying your understanding of the most important concepts in each chapter that we cover. The questions will be in the form of short answer, multiple choice and true and false.


This may be your first exposure to case studies and as such I have provided you some guidance below on what my expectations will be for this course. The case study method and analysis has been adapted from Seperich, G.J, M.J. Woolverton, J. G. Beierlein and D. E. Hahn, eds., Cases in Agribusiness Management, Gorsuch Scarisbrick, Publishers, Scottsdale, AZ 1996. These steps have been widely used and quoted in management literature. In addition, I have included information that has been useful for me over the years in preparing case study reports of my own. These experiences were derived through my undergraduate and graduate education in addition to my work experience.

Each report will be no less than 800 and no more than 1500 typewritten words and will contain all of the elements as outlined in the REPORT section of the Intro to the Case study method.


The case-study method may be new to you. Experience has shown that case studies bring interesting, real-world situations into the classroom (or in this case virtual classroom) study of marketing, human resources and management.

As you discuss cases with your fellow students, you will learn that decision-making is often a confrontational activity involving people with different points of view. Most important, you will learn how to work toward consensus while tolerating legitimate differences of opinion.

Decision-making is what managers do. The decisions of managers directly influence revenues, costs, and profits of an organization. If you are to be successful as a manager, you must learn to be a good decision-maker. You must develop the ability to apply classroom training in business to organizational problem solving so that you can learn how to: (1) make decision making easier, (2) improve the analytical quality of decisions, (3) reduce the time required to make decisions, and (4) increase the frequency of correct decisions.

After completing a few case studies, you should find them an interesting and rewarding way to learn. You will soon discover, however, that case studies require an approach that is different from other types of assignments. Each case can have more than one right answer depending on how the problem is defined and what assumptions are made.


Your first reaction upon reading a case will probably be to feel overwhelmed by all the information. Upon closer reading, you may feel that the case is missing some information that is vital to your decision. Don't despair. Case writers do this on purpose to make the cases represent as closely as possible the typical situations faced by managers. In this age of computers, managers often have to sift through an excessive amount of information to glean the facts needed to make a decision. In other situations, there is too little information and too little time or money to collect all the information desired. One definition of management is "the art of using scanty information to make terribly important, semi-permanent decisions under time pressure," (Seperich et al.). One reason for using the case-study method is for you to learn how to function effectively in that type of decision-making environment.

When assigned a case that does not contain all the information you need, you can do two things: First, seek additional information. Library research or a few telephone calls may provide the necessary facts. Second, you can make assumptions when key facts or data are not available. Your assumptions should be reasonable and consistent with the situation because the "correctness" of your solution may depend upon the assumptions you make. This is one reason that a case can have more than one right solution. In fact, I am more interested in the analysis and process you used to arrive at the decision than in its absolute correctness.

In some cases, the case writer(s) have provided questions to guide your analysis; in other cases it is up to you, the case analyst, to decide which questions are relevant in defining the problem. This too is by design. In an actual business situation you will have to decide which questions to ask, and certainly no one will give you a list of multiple-choice answers. This is why it is suggested that you not limit your analysis to the questions at the end of a case.


Using an organized seven-step approach in analyzing a case will make the entire process easier and can increase your learning benefits.

  1. Read the case thoroughly. To understand fully what is happening in a case, it is necessary to read the case carefully and thoroughly. You may want to read the case rather quickly the first time to get an overview of the industry, the company, the people, and the situation. Read the case again more slowly, making notes as you go.
  2. Define the central issue. Many cases will involve several issues or problems. Identify the most important problems and separate them from the more trivial issues. After identifying what appears to be a major underlying issue, examine related problems in the functional areas (for example, marketing, finance, personnel, and so on). Functional area problems may help you identify deep-rooted problems that are the responsibility of top management.
  3. Define the firm's goals. Inconsistencies between a firm's goals and its performance may further highlight the problems discovered in step 2. At the very least, identifying the firm's goals will provide a guide for the remaining analysis.
  4. Identify the constraints to the problem. The constraints may limit the solutions available to the firm. Typical constraints include limited finances, lack of additional production capacity, personnel limitations, strong competitors, relationships with suppliers and customers, and so on. Constraints have to be considered when suggesting a solution.
  5. Identify all the relevant alternatives. The list should include all the relevant alternatives that could solve the problem(s) that were identified in step 2. Use your creativity in coming up with alternative solutions. Even when solutions are suggested in the case, you may be able to suggest better solutions.
  6. Select the best alternative. Evaluate each alternative in light of the available information. If you have carefully taken the proceeding five steps, a good solution to the case should be apparent. Resist the temptation to jump to this step early in the case analysis. You will probably miss important facts, misunderstand the problem, or skip what may be the best alternative solution. You will also need to explain the logic you used to choose one alternative and reject the others.
  7. Develop an implementation plan. The final step in the analysis is to develop a plan for effective implementation of your decision. Lack of an implementation plan even for a very good decision can lead to disaster for a firm and for you. Don't overlook this step.


The high quality of your analysis or the brilliance of your insights will do you little good if your solution is not expressed clearly. A professor is more likely to accept your solution even they do not agree with it, if you are able to identify the issues, explain the analysis and logic that led you to choose a particular alternative, and lay out a good plan for implementing the decision.

The following guidelines will help you write an effective case analysis. First, in business communications a short report is usually considered better than a long report. This does not mean that in your report you can skip key points, but rather that you state relevant points clearly and concisely. Do not include trivial matters.
Second, the report should be well written. It should be typed and not contain spelling or grammatical errors. The report you hand in for class should be equivalent in quality to a report that you would write for your boss, or a senior manager of an organization.

A well-written report would contain the following elements:

Executive summary. This is a concisely written statement, less than one page, placed at the front of the report. It briefly summarizes the major points of the case and your solution. It should describe the major issue, the proposed solution, and the logic supporting the solution.

Problem statement. Present the central issue(s) or major problem(s) in the case. Although I do not expect that you repeat the facts of the case, I will expect that you to provide a clear picture of the issues.

Alternatives. Discuss all relevant alternatives. Briefly present the major arguments for and against each alternative. Be sure to state your assumptions and the impact of constraints on each alternative.

Conclusion. Present the analysis and the logic that led you to select a particular solution. Also discuss the reasons you rejected the other alternatives.

Implementation. Outline a plan of action that will lead to effective implementation of the decision so that the reader can see not only why you chose a particular alternative but also how it will work. Please be creative!

If you are unsure about any of these details please do not hesitate contacting me with your questions. I encourage you to ask questions!


As there is a mark for class participation, it is assumed that students will adequately prepare by completing the required readings in advance of posting to their Moodle forum. Each week, a reference to a current event will be posted for your input and consideration. This will sometimes be done in sections but there will be times that the entire class will be asked to participate in a larger more open forum.

Your participation will be marked as follows:

Participation in online discussion forums, this is not about how many posts but a combination of activity and quality of the work. Integration of course materials, challenge of current practices, and examples of your own practical experience as it pertains to the course topics. Your mark will not be assessed until the end of the term.


Students should contact me via Moodle email or via Should you wish to speak with me by phone, we can arrange a convenient time for me to call you. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate contacting me. All questions are welcome!

Margaret (Maggie) Shepherd

Time Commitment

To complete the readings, assignments, and course activities, students can expect to spend, on average, about 10 - 12 hours per week on the course.

Course Resources


SOLUS is Queen’s Student On-Line University System. You’ll have access to a SOLUS account once you become a Queen’s student. You’ll use SOLUS to register for courses, add and drop courses, update your contact information, view financial and academic information, and pay your tuition.


Moodle is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into Moodle to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the Moodle site.

About Credit Units

Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a good-quality computer (Windows XP/Vista/7, Pentium III, or Mac OS X 10.5, G4 or G5 processor, 256 MB RAM) with a high-speed internet connection, soundcard, speakers, and microphone, and up-to-date versions of free software (Explorer/Firefox, Java, Flash, Adobe Reader). See also Preparing For Your Course.


The deadlines for new applications to Queen’s are 1 April (for May summer term), 1 June (for July summer term), 1 August (for fall term), and 1 December (for winter term). All documents must be received by the 15th of the month following the deadline. You can register for a course up to one week after the start of the course. See also Dates and Deadlines.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for 2014-15 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Canadian students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $605.31; for a 6.0-unit course, $1210.62. See also Tuition and Payment.

Grading Scheme

The information below is intended for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Academic Regulations in other Faculties may differ.

Letter Grade Grade Point

GPA Calculators
Have your SOLUS grade report handy and then follow the link to the Arts and Science GPA calculators.

How does this affect my academics?
See the GPA and Academic Standing page.

Follow the link above for an explanation of how the GPA system affects such things as the Dean’s Honour List, requirements to graduate, and academic progression.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Grading Scheme
Please follow this link to the FAQ's

Campus Bookstore

All textbooks can be purchased at Queen’s Campus Bookstore.

Non-Queen’s Students

All Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are open to students at other universities. Before applying as a visiting student, request a Letter of Permission from your home university that states that you have permission to take the course and apply it to your degree. See also Apply.

Academic Integrity

Please see Queen’s policy statement on academic integrity for information on how to complete an online course honestly.