GRA 2261 Managing for Excellence – Generative Practices

Responsible for the course
Arne Carlsen

Department of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour

According to study plan

ECTS Credits

Language of instruction

This is a course on how to manage for excellence in organizations through a dual attention to what makes people thrive and grow and what creates extraordinary performances. The course assumes that employee and group thriving is the key to organizational excellence and that we need to understand how work practice can be generative for both individuals and organizations. The course draws from a fairly new and exciting tradition of research and managerial practice called Positive Organizational Scholarship. It also borrows from recent developments within practice-based approaches to organizations, narrative psychology and the field of “design thinking”. You will be challenged to discover and/or cultivate those generative practices in which you yourself can thrive, manage at your best and be valuable to others. In line with the focus on practice, the course will present rich examples from recent research along with new theory and historical overviews.

Learning outcome
The overall objective of the course is to provide knowledge and attitudes for how to cultivate generative practices and manage for excellence in organizations. Three types of learning outcomes are sought:

a. Knowledge: Students will get an overview of recent key contributions to generative practices, with an emphasis on empirical research and path-breaking new concepts.

b. Skills:
- Practical tools: Students will get familiar with examples of tools to enable generative practices in organizations, ranging from exercises of reflective best self-portrait to the making of physical space for creative work.
- Personal development: The course will seek to practice what it preaches in terms of offering students possibilities to use theory and tools purposively to make their own practice as students generate more learning an vitality in themselves and others.

c. Reflection: Students will be encouraged to maintain a critical approach and learn of research approaches that lend themselves particularly well to study and understand generative practices, with an emphasis on qualitative research, interventions and practice-based studies.

    Bachelor degree qualifying for admission to the MSc Programme

    Compulsory reading
    Carlsen, A. , Clegg, S. R. and Gjersvik, R. 2012. Idea Work. Cappelen Damm

    Collection of articles:
    A collection of articles will be made available at the start of the course.Other
    There may be additional smaller handouts throughout the course, including exercises and artifacts.

    During the course there may be hand-outs and other material on additional topics relevant for the course and the examination.

    Recommended reading

    Course outline
    Course outline
    The course will focus on the five sets of generative practices:
    1. Practices of high-quality connections and energizing interactions;
    2. Practices of experiential learning with a focus on designing experiments;
    3. Practices for making space productive in collaboration and team mobilization;
    4. Practices of meaning making and identity formation;
    5. Practices of organizational inquiry with emphasis on appreciation and small interventions.

    The last of these generative practices, organizational inquiry, involves a strong methodological component, one that can be used when doing research or when working more hands on with development efforts.

    Course structure
    This is a course that relies heavily on active participation in class and that presupposes thorough preparations for each session.

    For each of the five main components of the course – the five sets of generative practices – the following learning strategies will be pursued:

    - Discussion of real life situations and cases, with small guest appearances by leading practitioners;

    - Discussion of articles, some of which are presented in plenary (by teacher), some in smaller groups (by students);

    - Brief overviews of theoretical roots (by teacher)

    - Discussion of tools, some of which are the subject of active experimentation by students with small written assignments to reflect on what was learned.

    In this course class attendance is mandatory. Absences can result in a lower score. Specific information regarding student evaluation will be provided in class.

    A course of 6 ECTS credits corresponds to a workload of 160-180 hours.

    Computer-based tools
    It's learning/homepage

    Learning process and workload
    A course of 6 ECTS credits corresponds to a workload of 160-180 hours.

    Please note that while attendance is not compulsory in all courses, it is the student’s own responsibility to obtain any information provided in class that is not included on the course homepage/It's learning or text book

    The course grade will be based on the following activities and weights:
    i. Participation and in-class activities 30%
    ii. Two to three small written assignments to be handed in 30%
    iii. Term paper 40% (groups of 2-3 students)

    All parts of the evaluation need to be passed in order to receive a grade in the course.

    In this course class attendance is mandatory. Absences can result in a lower score. Specific information regarding student evaluation will be provided in class. This information may be relevant for requirements for term papers or other hand-ins, and/or where class participation can be one of several elements of the overall evaluation.

    This is a course with continuous assessment (several exam elements) and one final exam code. Each exam element will be graded using points on a scale (e.g. 0-100). The elements will be weighted together according to the information in the course description in order to calculate the final letter grade for the course. You will find detailed information about the point system and the cut off points with reference to the letter grades on the course site in It’s learning.

    Examination code(s)
    GRA 22611 accounts for 100% of the final grade in the course GRA 2261

    Examination support materials
    Exam aids at written examinations are explained under exam information in our web-based Student handbook. Please note use of calculator and dictionary.

    Re-sit examination
    It is only possible to retake an examination when the course is next taught.
    The assessment in some courses is based on more than one exam code.
    Where this is the case, you may retake only the assessed components of one of these exam codes.
    Where this is not the case, all of the assessed components of the course must be retaken.
    All retaken examinations will incur an additional fee.

    Additional information
    Honor Code
    Academic honesty and trust are important to all of us as individuals, and represent values that are encouraged and promoted by the honor code system. This is a most significant university tradition. Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the ideals of the honor code system, to which the faculty are also deeply committed.

    Any violation of the honor code will be dealt with in accordance with BI’s procedures for cheating. These issues are a serious matter to everyone associated with the programs at BI and are at the heart of the honor code and academic integrity. If you have any questions about your responsibilities under the honor code, please ask.