Organization Theory

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

The objective of the course is to help the student understand and use organization theory to analyze public policies and administration in an independent and critical way. This provides advanced knowledge about different theoretical perspectives and traditions, and on how different organization forms and instruments are used in practice. Both classic and newer contributions to organization theory and institutional theory are central. The aim is to prepare the student for independent use of different theoretical traditions in the empirical analysis relevant to a master thesis. Organization theory at the Masters level has a more advanced objective than at the bachelor-level in a double sense. The course is designed to help the student to: 1) use organization theory in her own research, 2) gain a deeper and clearer understanding of the basic concepts and the development of different theoretical perspectives geared at clarifying different kinds of research problems, 3) identify contributions that lie at the forefront of the research field internationally.

The course builds on four core aspects of the field.

  1. Central topics and problems in both classic and newer contributions to the study of formal organizations.
  2. Historical trends in organization theory, in particular in relation to the study of public administration and politics.
  3. Organization theory approaches that relate the study of public administration and politics
  4. Empirical studies of organizing and organizations in (or relevant to) the public sector

Learning Outcomes

A student who has completed the course should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student

  • has in-depth and advanced knowledge of new organizational and institutional theory
  • can give a systematic overview of new organizational and institutional theory and how this theory is used to study public administration and policy.
  • can give an account of the historical development of the field of research and discipline
  • can use the knowledge to analyze relevant research and policy questions starting from the history and particularities of the research field


The student

  • can develop and present critical analysis of relevant literature
  • can discuss and assess the relevance of academic and professional contributions to the field concerning different policy problems
  • can provide a systematic understanding of a theoretical field
  • can use organizational and institutional theory in conducting own independent research

General competence

The student

  • can use her/his knowledge and skills on new areas and topics
  • can make independent and professional assessments of relevant organizations and institutional arrangements
  • can communicate and discuss advanced and professional arguments with a broader community
  • can provide practical applications of theory through written and oral presentations and in discussions with relevant actors in public policy and administration
  • can contribute to the development of the research area and academic field

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
Recommended Previous Knowledge

AORG101, AORG104, AORG103 / AORG107, AORG215


GOV101, GOV104, GOV103 / GOV107, GOV215

Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
  • AORG320A (10 ECTS)
  • AORG320B (10 ECTS)
  • AORG318 (10 ECTS)
  • AORG320 (10 ECTS)
  • Access to the Course

    The course is open for students who have been accepted to Master programmes at the Department of Government.

    Exchange students at master level may be accepted upon application. Applications may be rejected due to capacity.

    Teaching and learning methods
    6-8 lectures and 3-4 seminars. Students are expected to actively participate in the discussion.
    Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

    Presentation of a shorter essay (2000 - 2500 words) based on a syllabus related topic. In addition, each student is required to at least one time comment on another students´ oral/written presentation.

    The compulsory assignment must be approved in order to take the exam. Approved compulsory assignments are valid in the current and following two semesters.

    Forms of Assessment

    Take home exam, 3 days, approximately 5000 words (+/- 10%, excluding the title page, table of contents, references, tables, and all attachments).

    The exam will be given in the language in which the course is taught.
    The exam answer can be submitted in Norwegian, Swedish or Danish. It is also possible to submit in English.

    Grading Scale
    Graded A-F
    Assessment Semester

    Assessment in teaching semester.

    A retake exam is arranged for students with valid absence according to § 5-5 in the UiB regulations.

    If there is a retake exam, this will be available for students with the follow results/absences:

    • Medical certificate/valid absence
    • Interruption during the exam
    • Fail/failed

    If you have the right to take a retake exam and a retake exam is arranged for students with valid absences, you can sign up yourself in Studentweb after January 15.

    Reading List
    The reading list will be ready before 1 July for the autumn semester and 1 Decemeber for the spring semester. 
    Course Evaluation
    All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.
    Programme Committee
    The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.  
    Course Administrator
    Department of Government at the Faculty of Social Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course and the study programme.