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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Business School : Business Studies

Undergraduate Course: Strategies for Collective Action (BUST10152)

Course Outline
SchoolBusiness School CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryAs division of labour, specialisation and differentiation are facts of social life, the question of coordination and integration of individual inputs is essential. Theories of collective action concern themselves with this question. Over centuries, collective action has been imagined differently - through a strong state (Leviathan), an invisible hand (markets), visible hands (hierarchical management) or institutional designs (rules, conventions and norms). In the first part of the course we will discuss these different forms of collective action critically and learn about their mechanisms, effects and sometimes unintended consequences. In the second part of the course we will open the debate and explore new forms of organising collective action. These new forms span public, private and third sectors and often address global societal challenges. They are enabled by technology, underpinned by social networks and use a variety of mechanisms (some old, some new) to enable a collective's capacity to act. We will study new forms of collective action with the aim to extend our intellectual toolbox and apply it to societal challenges.
Course description Academic Description
In his recent book on collective action action Frederick Mayer suggested that "[t]he problem of collective action is perhaps the central problem of social life." Several different disciplines have discussed modes of collective action using a variety of concepts and methods. This course provides an introduction into and critical engagement with these different traditions, touching upon the foundations of social theory. Moreover, the course will build on recent work in strategy, organisation theory and related disciplines to explore new forms of organizing and governing collective action.

Outline Content
Session 1: Introduction
Session 2: Invisible hand explanations: markets
Session 3: Visbible hand explanations: hierarchy and management
Session 4: Institutional explanations: rules, norms and conventions
Session 5: Emergent explanations: social movements
Session 6: New forms of distributed and collective action
Session 7: Organisation of distributed and collective action
Session 8: Strategies for distributed and collective action
Session 9: Leadership in distributed and collective action
Session 10: Conclusions

Student Learning Experience
The course will involve structured theory inputs in the form of short lectures and combine them with interactive learning experiences such as case analyses, text-based group discussions, guest talks etc.

The case study will provide a real-world problem that shows the importance of strategies for collective action. The problem holder will brief you at the beginning of the course and will join you for the poster presentations. The problem holder will provide valuable feedback to the groups and discuss the feasibility of their ideas in practice. Possible problem holders are Festivals Edinburgh, the City of Edinburgh, a variety of social enterprises and others.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Business Honours entry
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students must have at least 4 Business courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Formative Assessment Hours 4, Revision Session Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 168 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment 1 (70%):
Individual Essay
The individual essay (2000 words) will be an assessment of your ability to critically analyse and discuss the main theories and concepts of the course.

Assessment 2 (30%):
Component 1 (15%)
Groups of 4-5 students will solve a case study and present their findings as poster; peer evaluation percentage 20%
Component 2 (15%)
Individually the students will submit their reflections on the learning from the poster presentations in writing (500 words). Together they form 30% of the final grade.

Formative Assessment
You will be invited to submit the draft structure and summary of the main arguments of your essay in week 5. You will receive feedback on your work by week 7. Your groups will be invited to attend a clinic where you can discuss your ideas for the poster boards and presentation after week 7. You will receive formative feedback on your ideas.
Feedback Informal feedback will be provided throughout class during discussion of theories and their application. Formal feedback will be provided in weeks 5 and 7 (formative components) and in relation to final assessment items: the essay will be sent back to the students with an individual mark and comments; the poster presentation and the individual reflection will be evalutated and commented upon.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Undertake critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis of different theories and concepts of collective action, and understand their different organization and governance.
  2. Able to critically discuss and identify strengths and weaknesses of different forms of collective action.
  3. Apply knoweldge and skills to practical situations helping them to organise and manage collective action.
  4. Work with others in groups, to increase capability to solve practical problems and reflect critically on a variety of options.
Reading List
These are just a few indicative readings:
Mandatory Readings:

- Hayek, F. (2001). The Road to Serfdom, Routledge
- Scott, W. R. (2013). Institutions and organizations: Ideas, interests, and identities. Sage publications.
- Taylor, F. W. (2004). Scientific management. Routledge.
- Tilly, C., & Wood, L. J. (2015). Social Movements 1768-2012. Routledge

Additional readings:

- Becker, H. S. (1974). Art as collective action. American sociological review, 767-776.
- Benkler, Y. (2002). Coase's Penguin, or, Linux and" The Nature of the Firm". Yale law journal, 369-446.
- Benkler, Y. (2017). Peer production, the commons, and the future of the firm. Strategic Organization, 15(2), 264-274.
- Davis FG.F. (2016). What Might Replace the Modern Corporation? Uberization and the Web Page Enterprise. Seattle University Law Review 39: 501-515.
- DiMaggio, P. J., & Powell, W. W. (1983). The iron cage revisited: Institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in organizational fields. American sociological review, 147-160.
- Ferraro, F., Etzion, D., & Gehman, J. (2015). Tackling grand challenges pragmatically: Robust action revisited. Organization Studies, 36(3), 363-390.
- Hardin, G. (1968). The Tragedy of the Commons, Science 162(3859): 1243-1248
- Hayek, F. A. (1945). The use of knowledge in society. The American Economic Review, 35(4), 519-530.
- Kornberger, M., Leixnering, S., Meyer, R. E., & Höllerer, M. A. (2018). Rethinking the sharing economy: The nature and organization of sharing in the 2015 refugee crisis. Academy of Management Discoveries, 4(3), 314-335.
- Ostrom, E. (1990). Governing the commons: The evolution of institutions for collective action. Cambridge university press.
- Ostrom, Elinor. "Beyond markets and states: polycentric governance of complex economic systems." American economic review 100.3 (2010): 641-72.
- Rao, H. and Dutta, S., 2018, Why Great Strategies Spring from Identity Movements. Strategy Science 3(1): 313-322.
- Ullmann-Margalit, E. (1978). Invisible-hand explanations. Synthese, 39(2), 263-291.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will increase
- Analytical skills: students will be exposed to foundational texts of social science and discuss them critically
- Data literacy skills: students will discuss how digital technology enhances and constrains collective action
- Flexibility skills: students will be able to work in complex, tri-setcoral work environments where heterogenous actors collaborate with each other
- Enterprising skills: through understand its organizing principles and practices students will be able to analyse and engage in novel forms of collective action
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Chris Carter
Tel: (0131 6)51 5540
Course secretaryMiss Mary Anne Boeff
Tel: (0131 6)50 8072
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