Contemporary Perspectives on OB: Leading Change

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Contemporary Perspectives on OB: Leading Change

  • Host University

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Location

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Area of Study

    Business Administration

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Leadership is a fundamental aspect of human organization. It occurs quickly and automatically across all cultures and levels of complexity. Unfortunately, even though transformational leadership is widely studied, much of our understanding remains disjointed. In this course we connect the phenomenon of transformational leadership to study how it functions in the context of planned organizational change. The purpose of this course is 1) to help you generate a clearer understanding of the leadership process and how it connects with mobilizing people to change, 2) develop your own leadership skills (once we know what we need to develop), and 3) provide a roadmap for your future as an effective transformational leader.
    Learning Outcomes.
    • Knowledge: Student is familiar with the generative processes that gives rise to leadership, planned organizational change, and the connection between these two.
    • Bridging Theory & Practice: Student is familiar with the practical problems which business leaders and change consultants face when managing organizational change.
    • Self-awareness about one’s tendencies as a leader and follower in different organizational change situations.
    • Social skills: the ‘discursive ability’ to motivate and mobilize others, awareness of verbal and non-verbal signaling.
    • Research skills: the student is able to gather quantitative survey data, analyze the data (using SPSS) and effectively report on the results
    • Academic skills: the student is able to systematically analyze a practical change-related problem and come up with a plan of action.

    The first part of this course is an overview of the various definitions of leadership, including the many styles of leadership that are relevant to organizational change (i.e., evolutionary, charismatic, transformational, ethical leadership). In the process you will learn the boundaries and generative processes that give rise to leadership and the different levels of analysis that apply. For instance, you will learn that the ultimate why of leadership is quite different from the proximate how of leadership. This process will help us generate a general definition of leadership that integrates factors you will need to become an effective transformational leader. For example, you will learn about the different phases of leadership, how it can mobilize people, but also how it may finally lead to a state of disenchantment and disengagement. You will also learn which personal and contextual factors influence tie into the leadership process. This will help you maximize the good of charisma and ideology and avoid its dark side to maintain trust and maximize followership investment.
    You will also gain a deeper appreciation for the role leadership has on followership attitudes and motivation.
    1. Introduction to leadership theory
    • Leadership styles and the generative processes of leadership.
    2. The first, precarious phase of transformational leadership
    • The (moral) courage of speaking up: Leadership as instigating a social movement
    • Leadership taking hold: When change becomes a cultural convention.
    3. (Overcoming) disenchantment in later phases of leadership
    • Understanding some of the fundamental processes which impact on the sustainability of change initiatives (e.g.,institutionalization, assimilation, hypocracy, corruption). The second part of this course focuses on change as a process, that is, a journey. With the Engage! textbook as guide, you will learn to think about organizational change as a risky, adventurous journey with an uncertain outcome (for leaders and followers alike). That said, change has a number of recognizable phases that each offer unique challenges to change leaders. The second part also involves an overview of employees affective/attitudinal reactions of change recipients over time. You will learn about best practices of change management and the Theory of Planned Behavior as integrative framework. Last but not least, you will learn about rhetorical practices (framing, stories, narratives, vision) in change implementations and their intimate connection with charismatic-transformational leadership.
    4. Change as a perilous journey
    • Phases of change, obstacles, overcoming obstacles
    5. Attitudinal reactions to organizational change • Different types of organizational change (e.g., cost-focused vs. people focused and combinations) and reaction pattern to these changes
    6. Best practices in leading change
    • John Kotter; Theory of planned Behavior; behavior change
    7. Rhetorical strategies of the transformational leader The third part of this course is organized around application. Some leadership qualities are important across situations whereas other qualities are context-specific. For example, hierarchy and dominance may not always be the best strategy. For this course we will focus on a number of important leadership contexts that you will consistently encounter throughout your career. You will first learn about these dynamics and then in groups you will practice your ability to lead across different change contexts. You will evaluate yourself and be evaluated by others to supply you with comprehensive feedback. The primary goals are
    8. Understanding yourself as a leader,
    9. Identifying strengths and weaknesses across contexts (e.g., you may perform better in one situation relative to another),
    10 Practice improving your leadership (e.g., rhetorical ability) in a variety of organizational contexts.

    Lectures and Tutorials

    Written exam – Individual assessment
    Assignment(s) – Individual assessment
    Assignment(s) – Group assessment Class Participation


Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

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