Human Behaviour at Work | Abertay University

Human Behaviour at Work


This module explores the behaviour of humans as individuals, groups and in work organisations and examines how different social science perspectives can contribute to the effective management of human resources.


The aim of the module is to develop students understanding of the interplay between social, psychological and structural factors within organisations and the impact of these factors on human behaviour in work contexts.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  critically analyse the behaviour of humans in organisations from a managerial, sociological and psychological perspective;

2.  critically evaluate the contribution of a range of theoretical perspectives to the effective management of organisations and the organisation of work;

3.  understand the link between psychology, individual, team and corporate success;

4.  apply appropriate theoretical perspectives and techniques to understand workplace issues and people;

5.  develop and present effective solutions to HR related issues.

Indicative Content

1 Introduction: The theoretical background

The contemporary work organisation: conceptualising organisations as psychological arena (the contribution of work, occupational and organisational psychology), social spaces (the contribution of social psychology), contested terrain (the sociologist perspective) and purposeful organisation (instrumental logic; economic perspective).

2 Types of organisation and management structures

Contemporary trends in work organisations; the changing meaning of work; boundaryless organisations and the life-work boundary; mechanisms of management control. Management practice and the role of contributing disciplines.

3 Individual differences at work

The role and impact of personality and intellect on human behaviour at work; perceptions, attitudes and behaviour. Perceptions of mutual obligations, trust and equity. Organisational change and behaviour/attitude change. Implications for management practice: work life balance; managing creativity and innovation; managing an individualised employment relationship.

4 The organisation as social space

Group processes and dynamics; group identity formation and control; high performance teams and performance. Inter-group conflict. Implications for management practice: managing change and change resistance; designing effective teams.

5 The organisation as `contested terrain'

Structures, power and conflict in work organisations; structural changes in the knowledge economy; forms of management and peer control. Linking to management practice: managing conflict, deviance and misbehaviour.

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Class contact for this module comprises lectures, tutorials and seminars. Lectures are of two parts: one hour lecture and one hour drop-in session to address student's questions. Seminars will engage students in enquiry-based activities, mostly based on case analysis, to encourage the development of deeper understanding of theory, context and practice links, and of the complementary contributions of different disciplines. Students will often work in small groups, deliver presentations, and undertake critical reflection. Enquiry based learning will make up a minimum of 60% of student class time. Business Simulation and Innovation and Global Growth Event are an integral part of postgraduate study at Dundee Business School. Students, in multi-disciplinary teams, will take part in a series of intensive interactive organisation facing full-day workshops which focus on 'live case' or ‘simulated’ problems. These two practice based events help students gain an understanding of how business decisions affect the overall outcome and ultimate success or failure of a business.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 28
Tutorial/Seminar 14
Supervised Practical Activity 0
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 40
Independent 118

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2018/19 , and may be subject to change for future years.