02644 - Theory of Organisation

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course aims at presenting the basic foundations of the organizational theory and the main theoretical approaches for the study of organizations. At the end of the course, the student: - knows the basic theoretical and analytical tools for studying and understanding organizational phenomena - knows how to analyze the main organizations and the economic and political-institutional contexts in which they operate.

Course contents

The course is organized into lectures and seminars, according to the logic of the inverted classroom.

The first part of the course is based on Lectures (32 hours), with the aim to introduce students to the core tenets of the discipline. This first part focuses on the main approaches of the industrial sociology and classical organization theory, such as: definition of the concept of organization, Taylor and the Scientific Management, Mayo and the Human Relation School, the contribution of Barnard on cooperation, organizational culture. Moreover, this part deals with the theories of personality development, the Toyota model, Weber and the ideal-type of bureaucracy and its critics, such as Gouldner and Merton.

The second part of the course is based on Seminars (14 hours), with the aim to provide occasions for in-depth discussions of class materials and exercises. In the seminar section, students are divided into three groups, and each student must attend 7 seminars. This second parts deals with some important issues related to complex organizations planning and management, such as: Crozier and its idea of power and the strategy of organizational actors; the linkage between organizations and their environment; the organizational structures; the organizational culture; the concept of sociotechnical systems, etc. These issues are detailed in the following program.

The activation of online classes will depend on the evolution of the pandemic situation. For each student, therefore, a total of 46 classroom hours are foreseen. Students are required to come to class - whether virtual or face-to-face - having already read the assigned material. In the case of seminars, an active participation is also required taking advantage of the knowledge acquired with individual readings for the realization of thematic insights.


MANDATORY READINGS - Letture obbligatorie

First Part of the Course:

  2. CHE COSA È UN’ORGANIZZAZIONE (Ferrante, M e Zan, S. (1994), Che cos'è un'organizzazione? in Il fenomeno organizzativo, Roma, Carocci. Capitolo primo) + OSL E TAYLORISMO
  3. OSL E TAYLORISMO (Chapter 1, L'OSL ovvero il taylorismo in Bonazzi, G. (2008), Storia del pensiero organizzativo, Milano Franco Angeli.)
  4. SCUOLA DELLE RELAZIONI UMANE (Chapter 2, Dopo Taylor. Nascita e fortuna delle Relazioni Umane, in Bonazzi 2008)
  5. C. BARNARD (Chapter 3, C. Barnard. L’azienda come sistema cooperativo, in Bonazzi 2008)
  6. M. WEBER (Chapter 8, M. Weber. La burocrazia come apparato del potere legale, in Bonazzi 2008)
  7. R. MERTON (Chapter 9, Dopo Weber. Le conseguenze inattese della burocrazia nell'analisi di R. Merton, in Bonazzi 2008)
  8. A. GOULDNER (Chapter 10, La pluralità dei modelli burocratici, in Bonazzi 2008)
  9. M. CROZIER (Chapter 11, sistema burocratico e strategie degli attori, in Bonazzi 2008)
  10. P. SELZNICK (Chapter 10, logiche organizzative e leadership)
  11. LA CULTURA ORGANIZZATIVA (Chpater 18, cultura, significato e risorse: approcci duri e approcci morbidi alle organizzazioni, in Bonazzi 2008, p. 405-419)

At the end of this module, a mid-term exam is expected for the attending students.

Second part of the Course:

The readings indicated for each seminar must be prepared before the classroom:

  1. Il caso McDonalds attraverso il film The Founder (Readings: Introduzione, G. Ritzer, La McDonaldizzazione della produzione, Castelvecchi, Roma, 2017)
  2. Progettazione organizzativa e Industria 4.0 (Readings: Chapter 17, pag.382-385 in Bonazzi 2008 + Bartezzaghi et al., Progettazione organizzativa 4.0: verso una rivisitazione dei principi sociotecnici in "Studi Organizzativi " suppl. 1/2020, pp. 179-206)
  3. Il caso NUMMI: il modello Toyota in USA (Readings: Chapter 7, Nel post-fordismo: specializzazione flessibile, produzione snella e fabbrica modulare, in Bonazzi 2008 + Masino G. (2005), Le "nuove" forme di organizzazione del lavoro: il Caso Nummi in Le imprese oltre il fordismo, Retorica, illusioni, realtà, Roma, Carocci)
  4. Street level bureacrats: il ruolo dei giudici nel riesame delle richieste di asilo dei migranti (Readings prepared by the instructor)
  5. Confini e contratti: il caso di “Punto d’Accordo” a Modena (Readings: Chapther 17, pag 393-404 in Bonazzi 2008 + Costantini E., Le conseguenze del contratto: confini, ruoli e mandati organizzativi nell’erogazione di servizi pubblici. Il caso di "Punto d’Accordo" a Modena in "Studi Organizzativi " 1/2020, pp. 118-137)
  6. Incidenti ferroviari e il caso COSTA CONCORDIA (Readings: Catino (2005) Incidenti organizzativi nel trasporto ferroviario, Ricerche in ergonomia, Vol 1 + Catino (2012), Il caso Concordia: alcune riflessioni su un incidente).
  7. La progettazione di una organizzazione complessa: il caso delle Unioni di Comuni (Readings: Casula M. (2017), Il nuovo associazionismo intercomunale. Sfide e risposte delle culture politiche locali, pp. 86-92 + Mordenti M., Unioni di Comuni e governance: il caso della Bassa Romagna, in “Istituzioni del Federalismo" 2/2017, pp. 569-586.)

At the end of the second part of the course each of the 3 groups will have an assessment based on classroom participation + a written test of analysis of 2 of the case studies analyzed.


Teaching methods

Frontal lessons. Presentation of case studies, with also the participation of external experts. Each thematic unit will be summed up and regularly made available on the Alma digital library web site. Students will thus be able to download class material every week.

Class attendance is strongly recommended.

Assessment methods

For the students attending classes with regularity:

One written exam at the end of the first part (mid-term exam) and another one at the end of the course. The two exams last maximum 75 minutes each, and they are written (with a maximum of 15 points each). The first part consists of 5 open-ended questions (with a maximum of 3 points for each question). The second part consists of 2 open questions in which students must reflect on the principles discussed in the classroom during the second part of the course (with a maximum of 7,5 points for each question).

For the students NOT attending classes:

One written exam of 5 questions on all the readings listed above.

If needed, further information will be provided by professor

Teaching tools

- Power point presentations.

- Papers presentation and discussion.

- Other tools such as electronic databases, newspaper articles etc.

Office hours

See the website of Cristina Dallara

See the website of Mattia Casula

See the website of


Industry, innovation and infrastructure Sustainable cities

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.