MSc Construction Project Management

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
People and Organisations

Course unit fact file
Unit code ENGM60011
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


In this unit entitled People and Organisations, a number of topics will be explored, including inter alia leadership, motivation, team working, communication, conflicts and negotiation, and organisational culture.  These topics will be discussed in a series of two-hour keynote lectures, and set within the backdrop of contemporary trends in the way we think about (project) organisation.  These trends, e.g. increasing project-based working, globalisation, outsourcing, and greater awareness of social responsibility, serve to disrupt classical models of organisation and challenge the way we make sense about human relations in organisations.  The keynote lectures are designed to give a snapshot of current thinking, and this must be supplemented by personal, directed and self-directed reading.  There will also be at least two interactive workshops, one on conflict and negotiation and a final workshop to consolidate the knowledge developed in the lecture series.  There will also be at least one guest lecture delivered by a middle-level project management practitioner.


By the end of this unit, students should be able:

  • To trace and discuss a wide range of theories (from classical to more contemporary postmodern perspectives) in the study of organization and human relations relevant to the management of projects;
  • To critically reflect and review on a range of theoretical perspectives that can be used to problematise people and/or organizational in the management of projects, and;
  • To apply a range of theoretical perspectives to appropriate and evaluate possible interventions in tackling everyday people and/or organizational problems in project environments.


Introduction to People and Organisations: In this introductory topic, we will be covering some of the high-level trends in society that are changing the nature of organisations and the ways in which human relations are conceptualised and enacted. These trends include globalisation and the rise of the virtual organisation, intensification of outsourcing and the ‘hollowing out’ of organisations, and increasing projectification of organisations where the management of projects (after Morris) and management by projects (after Gareis) are becoming the norm. In this introduction, we will also question definitions of what a ‘project’ means, attending to more current perspectives of project organisation, including projects as temporary organising, non-routine contexts, and imagination.

Organisational Theories: In this topic, we will be tracing developments in the theories and practices of organisation, from classical notions of organisation as monolithic, coherent structures to more contemporary, postmodern ideas of organising without organisation. In this topic, we will explore and question a variety of structural arrangements (e.g. role, task, and power structures), and discuss their relevance to current trends at the (project) workplace. These trends include greater flexibility and mobility at and in between project sites, and more networked and virtual forms of coordinating work. We will also discuss ambiguities of control that are intensifying given more inter-organisational forms of coordination, especially in project-based environments.

Leadership and Motivation: In this topic, we will be differentiating between leadership and management, and trace developments in the theories and practices of leading projects (e.g. traits and styles, contingency, distributed, transformational and transactional). We will also be examining leadership in process terms, and explore emergent practices of leading and development authentic leadership. We will also examine the interrelationships between leadership and motivation. We will also critique content and process theories of motivation in light of recent evidence that suggest the limits of incentivisation and motivating high-performing work environments.

Conflict and Negotiation: In this topic, we will be experiencing ways in which conflicts are enacted and managed. We will explore this through an interactive workshop, which is intended to help you identify the paradoxes of conflicts; on the one hand, conflicts are dysfunctional, yet conflicts can also be extremely productive in driving creativity and innovation. We will discuss conflict and negotiation techniques through the use of the ‘body’, and explore how the nature of conflicts changes over a typical project life cycle.

Teams and Organisational Culture: In this topic, we will be exploring theories of team building (e.g. Tuckman’s team development life cycle, and Belbin’s team roles), and discussing how this relates to the typical project life cycle. This discussion is also set in the context of contemporary interests in high-performing, high-reliability (project) workplaces, and longstanding interest in developing a coherent organisational culture for continuous improvement. We will also critically review the work of a number of cultural theorists, including Hofstede’s cultural dimensions and Schein’s layers of organisational culture.

Communication: In this topic, we will discuss communication problems in (project) organisations. We will review the classical sender-message-receiver model of communication and explore how communication often breaks down as a result of interpretation and translation across mediators and intermediaries. We will examine the concept of boundary objects, and explore its relevance in connection with communication issues in and across organisations. We will also discuss the contemporary perspective of communication-as-con

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 70%
Report 30%

Feedback methods

Exam - Generic feedback based on the marks analysis sheet will be emailed to students after the Semester 1 Moderating Board Meeting has taken place.

Report - Feedback will be given on the Turnitin submission, along with a coursework feedback lecture in Week 12

Online quiz - 0% weighting - Feedback is immediate with signposting to course materials where students provide a wrong answer.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 33
Tutorials 2
Independent study hours
Independent study 115

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Elika Aminian Unit coordinator

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