Course Syllabus - George Mason University
Goals | Class Format | Deliverables | Reading

MGMT 791: 002
FALL 1998

Professor: Catherine Durnell Cramton, Ph.D.
Office hours: Mondays and Tuesdays 6 - 7 p.m.
Office: Enterprise 214
Office phone: (703) 993-1814
Home: (301) 699-1015 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon-Fri after you have tried my office)
Fax: Arrange in advance by telephone or e-mail

Course objective: To prepare you to deal thoughtfully and confidently with key emerging management challenges and opportunities.

Specific goals
bulletTo deepen your understanding of how the workplace is changing and what is required of managers in this new environment.
bulletTo develop your ability to work cross-culturally
bulletTo develop your ability to build teams and collaborations with people in dispersed locations.
bulletTo give you experience using new business communication technologies and enable you to thoughtfully assess when and how to use them.
bulletTo strengthen your ability to manage people in a knowledge and service-oriented economy.
bulletTo improve your facility in using fundamental concepts and skills introduced in prior management courses by applying them to a new set of contemporary issues.

Class format

This is a seminar course for advanced students in which you are expected to take initiative and participate actively. Webster's New World Dictionary defines a seminar as "a group of supervised students doing research." We will investigate cutting edge management issues, explore theoretical frameworks that organize thinking about these issues, and refine practical skills for dealing with these issues.

Sessions will include brief, focused lectures, class analysis of case studies and readings, workshops in the use of new business communication and collaborative technologies, and debriefings concerning coursework conducted outside of class. In particular, you will become a member of a multi-cultural, geographically dispersed work team that collaborates for five weeks through the use of advanced communication and information technologies. Lessons drawn from the experience will be explored in class and in individual written papers. Our partners for the project are Carnegie Mellon University and Bocconi University in Milan, Italy.

Each of you will be expected to take a leading role for one class session by reading materials in advance, posting important questions in the class's discussion database, and framing key issues for the class's analysis, or by guiding the class in exploration of a particular business communication technology. Each week, you are expected to come to class well prepared to discuss the assigned readings and cases.

In classroom sessions and in deliverables, draw upon concepts and skills introduced in prior management courses, as well as those presented in this course.


As part of a group of three or four members, you will be asked to write a seven-page paper analyzing the key issues in the Bob Chen and David Shorter cases (see full assignment at the end of the syllabus). This paper is due at the start of class on Sept. 28 and will constitute 20 percent of each group member's final course grade.

Working with another student from the class, you are expected to take the lead for one class session as described above (10 percent of each person's final grade). Available sessions include the following:

Sept. 14   Skills required of managers in the 21st century
Sept. 21   Team-building in the 21st century
Oct. 5   Managing cross-border mergers, NetMeeting workshop
Oct. 19   Video-conferencing
Oct. 26   Hewlett-Packard case (virtual teams)
Nov. 2   Alternative workplace/off-site teams case analysis
Nov. 9   Managing knowledge workers

As an individual, you will build a Lotus Notes database or web page for your transnational team. Some of this work will be done in the course of training sessions conducted during class time. You are expected to take initiative in helping this team use technologies such as Lotus Notes, web pages, video-conferencing, and Net Meeting or other synchronous "chat" software. In a four or five-page memo, summarize the structure, content and function of your team database, your exploration of other technological tools, and your assessment of their business uses and value. The memo is due on Dec. 14 and will constitute 20 percent of your final grade.

Your transnational team will be asked to write an analysis of an international organizational change management case. This case analysis of about seven pages will be due in early December. In addition, at the start of your team's work in mid-November, the group will turn in a brief paper outlining how the members have decided to work together. Details concerning format and deadlines for both items will be announced in class.

Finally, after this team concludes its work, you will write as an individual an analysis of the experience, drawing on the team's communication records and on materials presented in this course and in your prior management courses. Suggestions concerning the format and content of this paper will be provided in class. The paper should be about seven pages in length and will constitute 25% of your final grade. It is due Dec. 14.

In your work on all written assignments, keep in mind that you may not present as your own the words, the work, or the opinions of someone else without proper acknowledgement. You also may not borrow the sequence of ideas, the arrangement of material, or the pattern of thought of someone else without proper acknowledgement. You may cite materials assigned in this course as follows: (Author's last name, page number). For other materials, you must include full bibliographic information.

Summary of deliverables

Bob Chen/David Shorter case analysis (group paper, Sept. 28) 20%
Class session lead and discussion questions (sometime on or before Nov. 9) 10%
Team database (by Nov. 12) and final memo on use of technology (Dec. 14) 20%
Dispersed team contract (group work, approx. Nov. 20) 5%
Case analysis paper with partners at other universities (approx. Dec. 4) 20%
Analysis of team experiences including email records (individual work, Dec. 14) 25%

Required reading

Three packets of course readings (one large and two small ones) will be available for purchase at the Copy Center Retail Store, Johnson Center 117. Be sure you get the packets for Professor Cramton's section of MGMT 791 (Section 002). A few other materials will be made available later.

Week 1 (Aug. 31)
Organizations in the 21st century

Applegate, "Managing in an information age"
Applegate, "Designing and managing organizations in the information age"
Hamilton, "Going global: A world of difference"
Lancaster, "Learning to manage in a global workplace"

No class on Sept. 7 because of Labor Day holiday.

Week 2 (Sept. 14)
Skills required of managers in the 21st century and Lotus Notes database workshop

Allred, Snow & Miles, "Characteristics of managerial careers in the 21st century"
Arthur & Rousseau, "A new career lexicon for the 21st century"
Bartlett & Ghoshal, "The myth of the generic manager: New personal competencies for new management roles"

Review your career so far and your professional goals for the next ten years. In what type of business environment do you plan to work? What skills will you need to be effective in this environment? Write down your learning goals for this course.

Week 3 (Sept. 21)
Team-building in the 21st century case analysis

Rousseau, "Teamwork inside and out"
Applegate & Stoddard, "Chemical Bank: Technology support for cooperative work"
"Mini case-study of experiences on a dispersed team"

Begin to think about how one might do team-building with transnational, geographically dispersed teams. You will be asked to build a Lotus Notes database and/or web page to support the work of the transnational team in which you work in this course.

Week 4 (Sept. 28) Bob Chen/David Shorter paper due today. Cross-cultural collaboration case analysis

Adler & Bartholomew, "Managing globally competent people"
Hofstede, "Cultural dimensions in people management"
As assigned in class, read either the Bob Chen case or the David Shorter case
"The overseas Chinese: Some cultural features"

Week 5 (Oct 5)
Cross-border mergers case analysis and NetMeeting workshop

Pressler, "Giant Food to be sold to Dutch grocery firm"
Swardson, "Buyer's global growth took root in the kitchen"
Swardson, "Deal is Ahold's latest step in a buy-America strategy"
Flank & Burton, "Side effects: Cross-border merger results in headaches for a drug company"

Week 6 (Oct. 12)
Cross-cultural collaboration continued and web page construction workshop

Gannon, "The Italian opera"
Snow, Snell & Davison, "Use transnational teams to globalize your company"

Week 7 (Oct. 19)
Collaboration across distance and video-conferencing workshop

Handy, "Trust in the virtual organization"
Cramton, "Interaction processes in dispersed teams"
Storck & Sproull, "Through the looking glass darkly: What do people learn in video-conferences?"

Week 8 (Oct. 26)
Managing virtual teams case analysis

Geber, "Virtual teams"
Leonard et al. "Virtual teams: Using communications technology to manage geographically dispersed development groups"
Hewlett-Packard: Singapore (A)

Week 9 (Nov. 2)
The alternative workplace case analysis

Apgar, "The alternative workplace: Changing where and how people work"
Pliskin, "The enabling role of information technology in telework: From telecommuting to virtual teams and beyond"
Maruca, "How do you manage an off-site team?"

Week 10 (Nov. 9)
Managing knowledge workers

Davenport & Prusak, "The promise and challenge of knowledge markets"
McDermott, "Working in public-learning in action"
"AMS Knowledge Centers"

Weeks 11 (Nov. 16) and 12 (Nov. 23)
Team contracting and change management case analysis

Readings concerning change management and management consulting to be assigned by Professor Pennarola (Bocconi University) and Professor Rousseau (Carnegie Mellon University)

Weeks 13 (Nov. 30) and 14 (Dec. 7)
Management at the millennium case analysis

"Colliers International Property Consultants"
"Colliers International Property Consultants, Inc.-Managing a virtual organization"
Assignment for Bob Chen/David Shorter case analysis, due Sept. 28
Maximum paper length: 7 pages

Your group will be composed of some people who have been asked to concentrate on the Bob Chen case and to view the situation through his eyes and some who have been asked to concentrate on the David Shorter case and on his vantage point. As you work on the paper together, explore these differences in point of view and the reasons for them.

Identify the key performance problems related to Bob Chen. What are the causes of these problems? How should these problems be solved? Describe and use concepts from this class and from your prior management classes in your analysis and solution. Your grade will be based on 1) logic and clarity of description and analysis, 2) clear and appropriate use of concepts, and 3) integration and quality of writing.

Some issues to consider are:

  1. How would David Shorter describe his approach to management? How would he describe Bob Chen's approach?
  2. How does Bob Chen see the situation (i.e. how would he describe Shorter's approach to management and his own approach to his job)?
  3. What factors explain discrepancies in their views? Be sure to address cultural issues, either explaining why you think they play a role in this situation or why you think they are not relevant.
  4. How would Shorter evaluate Chen's performance and what factors would influence his evaluation? How would you evaluate Chen's performance?
  5. What are particular challenges and dilemmas of managing subordinates who have different cultural backgrounds and working styles from your own?
  6. How would you resolve the performance problems evident in this case?

Updated 11/4/1998
Contact Information Copyright 1998 George Mason University