SOCIAL TOPICS IN ORGANIZATION | Università degli studi di Bergamo


Attività formativa monodisciplinare
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Per studenti immatricolati al 1° anno a.a.: 
Insegnamento (nome in italiano): 
Insegnamento (nome in inglese): 
Social Topics in Organization
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Attività formativa Caratterizzante
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Didattica Convenzionale
Primo Semestre
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Advanced knowledge of organization theories. This course is reserved to master of science/master degree students (i.e. the Italian “laurea magistrale”).

Educational goals

Companies influence society because they control an important portion of our lives as individuals, workers, consumers, and even citizens. At the same time, society influences companies because companies need social legitimation in order to survive and/or be successful. Against this backdrop, the goals of this course are to develop the conceptual foundations, frameworks and methods for analysing, and understanding the intersection between companies and society, by focusing on some hot and controversial topics. More specifically, the course addresses, in a critical lens, topics that represent a breaking point in the balance between the company’s interests and social interests. At the end of this course, students will be able to analyse and understand both organizational and social impacts of the topics covered during the course.

Course content

The course is organized around three key concepts defining the boundaries of three different sections:

• Creativity - In this section we explore creativity, and creativity management. Creativity is an incredibly important component of any organizational setting. This course provides students with a richer understanding of how creativity can be facilitated and managed in organizations. At the end, we try to understand if creativity can save us from the dominion of the machines.
• Technology – Machines are the core component of the so-called “industry 4.0”, and “sharing economy”. In this section we analyse what’s behind labels as “industry 4.0” and “sharing economy”, the effects of this new technologies (someone define these new technologies as new-taylorism), and algorithms (i.e. mathematical models that take decisions) on companies and society. We answer the following questions: How these new technologies affect the quantity and quality of works? How do these new technologies affect our lives (whether we get a job or a loan, how much we pay for insurance, etc.)? We explore the diffusion of the sharing economy and the impact of such new businesses/companies (like Uber, Airbnb, etc.) on the relationship with their workers. In particular, because it is not clear who is inside or outside the organization, this new business is challenging our conception of organizational boundaries, and shift risk from corporations to workers, weakening labour protections and driving down wages.
• Identity – In the section students are introduces to the analysis of identity theory, and diversity management. Today the workforce is becoming more and more diverse in terms of gender, age, sexual orientation, ethnicities, etc. These attributes can influence how individuals identify themselves and how they are categorized by others. Companies need to learn how to manage this diversity and how to prevent stigma and discrimination.

Textbooks and reading lists

* Articles, papers and book chapters for attending students:

Creativity section: Staw, B. M. 1995, Why no one really wants creativity; Brown, T. 2008, Design Thinking; Catmull, E. 2008, How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity; Slavich B., Svejenova S. 2016, Managing Creativity: A Critical Examination, Synthesis, and New Frontiers.

Technology section: Manyika, J., Chui, M., Miremadi, M., Bughin, J., George, K., Willmott, P., & Dewhurst, M. 2017, A future that works: Automation, employment, and productivity (executive summary:; Arntz, M., T. Gregory and U. Zierahn 2016, The Risk of Automation for Jobs in OECD Countries: A Comparative Analysis (;
Mann, G., O'Neil, C., 2016, Hiring Algorithms Are Not Neutral; O'Neil, C., 2016, How algorithms rule our working lives (; Brynjolfsson E., McAfee A, 2017, The business of artificial intelligence; Greenwood, B., Burtch, G., & Carnahan, S. 2017, Unknowns of the gig-economy; Fox, J. 2014, Where are all the self-employed workers?
Tassinari A & Maccarrone V., 2017, Striking the Startups (; Asher-Schapiro A.A. 2014, Against Sharing (; Rozworski, M. 2015, Why We Fight Uber. (; Fleming, P. 2017, The human capital hoax: Work, debt and insecurity in the era of Uberization; Ossewaarde, M., & Reijers, W. 2017, The illusion of the digital commons: ‘False consciousness’ in online alternative economies; Eckhardt G.M., Bardhi, 2015, The sharing economy isn’t about sharing at all (

Identity section: Mor Barak M. E. 2017, Managing diversity (Ch. 6, 7 and 10); Kulik C.T, 2014, Working below and above the line: the research–practice gap in diversity management; Castilla E.J., 2016, Achieving meritocracy in the workplace; Chamorro-Premuzic, T. 2017, Does diversity actually increase creativity? Dobbin F., Kalev A. 2016, Why diversity programs fail; Morse G. 2016, Designing a bias-free organization; Burrell L. 2016, We just can’t handle diversity.

Notes and slides: Notes taken by students during lesson and slides (slides will be published in the e-learning platform after each lesson; these slides are only for attending students).

* Articles, papers and book chapters for non-attending students:

Attending students articles and papers (see above; slides excluded) plus all the chapters of the following book: Mor Barak M. E. 2017, Managing diversity.

Teaching methods

Lectures, exercises, and discussion of case studies.

Assessment and Evaluation

* Attending students:

Attending students will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

• Individual Class Participation and In-class, and out-of-the class individual/team assignments (in order to assess students’ ability to actively participate in a discussion about organizational issues using an appropriate technical language) – Max. 48 points. This course is organized as a seminar, thus the student ability to follow the basic etiquette rules and participate actively is critical for creating a good learning environment. Each student will be asked to perform a series of in-class, and out-of-the-class activities (discussions, exercises, etc.) that address issues related to the course content.
• Final individual written exam (in order to assess students’ ability to describe and use concepts in specific empirical contexts, using an appropriate technical language) – Max. 52 points. The final exam consists of two open questions about the topics presented and discussed in the course, and slides/readings/cases for attending students. Each question is worth a maximum of 26 points. The exam, which will take approx. 1 hour/1 hour and 30 minutes, will be a closed book exam.

At the end of the overall activities, the score in the 100-point scale will be converted in a grade in the Italian 30-point scale (the minimum number of points is 60). Detailed results of the different activities (exercises, exam) will be published in the e-learning platform. The final grade will be available through the “sportello internet”.

* Non attending students:

Final individual written exam

• Each non attending student will take an exam at the end of the course. This final exam consists of two open questions based on the non-attending student materials (articles, papers, and book chapters). Each question is worth 15 points. The final grade will be the sum of the points obtained in the two open questions. The exam, which will take approx. 1 hour/1 hour and 30 minutes, will be a closed book exam.

The final grade will be available through the “sportello internet”.

Further information

* More information are available in the e-learning Platform (e.g. detailed references).
* Section on creativity will be taught by Prof. Barbara Slavich (