Departments' graduate courses

Course start and periodicity may vary. Please see details for each course for up-to-date information. The courses are managed and administered by the respective departments. For more information about the courses, how to sign up, and other practical issues, please contact the examiner or course contact to be found in the course information.

Organization Theory

  • Course code: FTEK016
  • Course higher education credits: 7.5
  • Graduate school: Technology Management and Economics
  • Course start: 2020-09-02
  • Course is normally given:
  • Language: The course will be given in English
  • Nordic Five Tech (N5T): This course is free for PhD students from N5T universities

Below information is from 2018

Prerequisites: Being (1) Student in the Doctoral programme in Technology Management and Economics; (2) Doctoral student from other Chalmers department; (3) Other Doctoral students. The course accepts a maximum of twenty doctoral students.
For registration please send e-mail to

Venue for all seminars: Seminar room Korsvägen 2456, Vasa building 2, 4th floor, Vera Sandbergs allé 8.

Aim: Organizations are one of the dominant institutions of contemporary life and in the modern society. The course introduces some of the dominating themes and fields of research in organization theory. Such themes include classic management theory including scientific management and systematic management, bureaucracy theory, post-World-War II research on institutional theory, decision-making theory, evolutionary theory, economic theories of organization, organization learning theory and strategic management theory, and more recent domains of research such innovation management and network-based view of organization. The field of organization theory offers a great variety of textbooks and introductory texts, but the course is based on Scott¿s book which is a standard reference in this type of introductory course and is used at many leading business schools and universities in the US and Europe. 

Course outline: The course is consisting of six seminars. At each seminar, students should hand in a review papers (see instructions below). A student can only be absent at one of the six seminars. There will be no additional complementary assignment for more than one absence. This means that missing more than one seminar is to fail the course. In events of illness and other non-anticipated events, there could be negotiations with the course examiner regarding an exception from the rule state above. 

Learning outcome: The students are expected to acquire a basic familiarity with central theoretical frameworks and schools of research in the field of organization theory.

Examination: The examination includes two parts: five review papers and one final paper wherein the Ph.D. candidate applies the course literature to his or her topic of research.
(i) Review papers: At each of the first five seminars, course participants are expected to read a number of assigned journal papers and hand in a review paper of the texts. The paper should be maximum 2 pages and address the three parts: (1) What are the main arguments of the text?, (2) Why is this text possibly regarded as a seminal work in the field of organization theory?, and (3) in what way could I use this paper in my thesis work?
The review paper must be handed in as a hard-copy to the lecturer at the seminars.
(ii) Final paper. The final paper is a text of around 5,000 words that could be a part of a research paper intended for a conference or a journal submission, a section of the dissertation kappa, or a book chapter. The paper should address some of the literature used in the course at the same time as it should be a text that is of value for the author, the PhD. candidate. The Ph.D. candidate should prepare a presentation of the paper (more instructions to be provided during the course).
The final paper should be handed (submitted as a hard-copy) to 
administrator, Dept. of Technology Management and Economics, 12.00, January 17.


The papers are downloaded from the Chalmers Library individually.
W. Richard Scott & Davis, Gerald F. (2006), Organizations and organizing: Rational, natural and open systems (Prentice Hall, 6th ed.)

Seminar 1:
1) Weick, Karl E., (1976), Educational organizations as loosely coupled systems, Administrative Science Quarterly, 21: 1-19.
2) Meyer, John W., & Rowan, Brian, (1977), Institutionalizing organizations: Formal structure as myth and ceremony, American Journal of Sociology, 83(2): 340-363.

Seminar 2:
1) Barley, Stephen R., (1986), Technology as an occasion of structuring: Evidence from observations of CT scanners and the social order of radiology departments, Administrative Science Quarterly, 31: 78-108.
2) Brunsson, Nils, (1982), The irrationality of action and action rationality: Decisions, ideologies and organizational action, Journal of Management Studies, 19(1): 29-44.

Seminar 3: Economic theories of the firm
1) Poppo, L. and Zenger, T. (1998), Testing alternative theories of the firm: transaction cost, knowledge‐based, and measurement explanations for make‐or‐buy decisions in information services. Strategic Management Journal, 19(9): 853-877.
2) Foss, N.J. (2003), Selective Intervention and Internal Hybrids: Interpreting and Learning from the Rise and Decline of the Oticon Spaghetti Organization.
3) Schepker, D. J., Oh, W. Y., Martynov, A. and Poppo, L. (2014), The Many Futures of Contracts: Moving Beyond Structure and Safeguarding to Coordination and Adaptation. Journal of Management, 40(1): 193-225.

Seminar 4: Innovation and entrepreneurship
1) Schumpeter, J.A. (2000 {1934}): ¿Entrepreneurship as innovation¿, i R. Swedberg (red). Entrepreneurship. The social science view. Oxford, Oxford University Press, sid 51-75.
2) Burt, R.S. (2000) "The network entrepreneur", i R. Swedberg (red). Entrepreneurship. The social science view. Oxford, Oxford University Press, sid 281-307.
3) Godin, B. (2015) "Innovation, or how to stabilize a changing world", in Innovation Contested: The idea of innovation over the centuries. London, Routledge, p 58-72

Seminar 5: Actor Network Theory
Law, J. (1992) Notes on the Theory of the Actor-Network: Ordering, Strategy and Heterogeneity. Systems Practice, 5, 4, 379-393.
Business Networks:
1) Håkansson, H. and Snehota, I (1989) No business is an island: The network concept of business strategy. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 5, 3, 187-200
2) Gadde, L-E (2013) Moving corporate boundaries - consequences for innovative redesign, Journal of Supply Chain Management, 49, 4, 12.26

Schedule: TBD

Professor Alexander Styhre
More information
Director of studies

Published: Tue 22 Aug 2017.