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									 What Does It Mean to Major in
 Organizational Management?

       This document was prepared for those students contemplating a major in
Organizational Management at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), and for
those students who have recently made that decision. We will provide you with a brief
overview of the curriculum that comprises that major and assistance in your preparation
for a career in management. Specifically, we will address questions and issues regarding
the nature of a university education, a liberal arts component of it, the business core, the
types of courses in your major, the key role of summer work experiences, the
Organizational Management faculty, and careers in management.


What does it Mean to be a University Student?

       Organizations, of which there are many and many different types, are ‘social
instruments.’ They exist in order to help society fulfill its many different needs. Two of
society’s needs are: 1) the creation of a literate and skilled populace, and 2) the passing
along from one generation to the next the values, traditions, customs, language, and
history of that society.

        Within this context, the dual roles of the university in society is for creating
knowledge (through the conduct of research), and the dissemination of that knowledge
(through teaching/lecturing, public speaking, and the publication of articles and books)
for the public benefit. No other organization in society is charged with that dual function.
Each of these activities is the primary responsibility of the university professor. They are
often accompanied in this endeavor by their students.

       Both universities and high schools are educational institutions, but they also have
many important and contrasting features. By definition, a university is a ‘community of
scholars.’ People who have come together with the purpose of conducting research,
creating knowledge (i.e., advancing the frontiers of understanding), and creating a
learning environment that transmits that knowledge to others. High schools are not
charged with a research and ‘creation of knowledge’ responsibility. Laws essentially
mandate students being in high school, while attendance at the university is a matter of
choice. In high school ‘teachers’ assume a large role for your education. The university
should be seen as a large educational resource (e.g., lectures, classes, professors, library,
laboratories, student organizations, conversations with peers) that is available to you to
the extent that you are motivated to access all of the opportunities that are available. The
federal, state, and local school districts play a major role in defining the curriculum
offered by the high school, while within the university those decisions are left to the
faculty.

        A ‘teacher’ is one who shows you how to do something; teachers give instruction,
train, provide lessons, guide study, provide (impart) knowledge, and stress the
development of latent skills and abilities. Teachers, in general, are not ‘licensed or hired
to profess,’ but they are trained in the method of teaching. A professor is one who
through his/her academic training and scholarly pursuits professes something. To profess
simply means to make an open declaration, to affirm, to lay claim, and to declare one’s
beliefs. As such, university-level instructors may sometimes include a healthy dose of
underlying values and perspectives, thus requiring college students to choose whether to
adopt a professor’s philosophy and beliefs or to argue against them. While professors do
in fact teach and guide your studies, the bulk of their training involved the development
of a deep familiarity with their discipline and the development of the skills to conduct
research for the creation of knowledge within that discipline. Given that the university
professor is not first and foremost a teacher, they have not been trained to teach. Instead
they should be seen as a resource to be employed to advance your own education.

        It is important to recognize that research-based universities, as a general rule, do
not focus on developing practical skills within their students; universities are not
vocational training institutions. Consequently, relatively little emphasis is placed on the
use of pragmatic tools or presentations on “how to manage.” These topics and practical
approaches are best handled in training seminars within work organizations, according to
their specific policies and practices. You are encouraged to view your university
education as an opportunity to practice the skill of raising penetrating questions, critical
thinking, learning to apply relevant models and theories to contemporary problems, and
developing analytical, communication, and teamwork capabilities. The university seeks
to help its students to develop an understanding and appreciation for the complex worlds
in which they live, and to realize their highest potential of intellectual, physical and
human development.

        Finally, as a student you are both a customer and product. It is important to
understand the difference, where and when the line of demarcation is present. Most of
the time in your student-professor relationship, learning, education, enlightenment, and
personal development are the primary objectives. In this sense then, you are the ‘raw
material and the product’ of the university and its educational process, and not a
customer. Most of the faculty will see you in this light, assuming that you too are here
because you want to learn by tapping into their years of academic work and reflection
that came before your arrival. While you are the product of the university you deserve to
be listened to and treated with respect. We want your stay at the university to be
personally rewarding, we want you to encourage others to seek their education at UMD’s
Labovitz School and the Department of Management Studies, and we want you to be a
proud and active alumni once your education is complete.
       In addition to your being a product of the university, there are many interactions
with the faculty and university where you are the customer (e.g., taking out on-loan a
book from the library, requesting information from a departmental secretary, securing a
student loan, purchasing a parking permit and items from the bookstore, attending the
theater or athletic event, and asking a professor for feedback on a term paper). It is in
interactions of this nature that you deserve to be treated with kindness, respect, in a
timely fashion, while your concerns are being listened to and needs met.

        Finally, being a student and getting a high-quality education is a full-time job.
You have chosen to attend the university, to invest a large amount of time and money
into yourself and your future, and as such you are here for an education that will be
accompanied by a degree, and not simply for the receipt of a degree. Unfortunately, it is
possible to get a degree without a good education. After graduation the degree per se will
have very little value, while the quality of your education will be priceless, paying for
itself several times over.

       Thinking about your university experience from a time and quality of education
perspective there is an important relationship between the two. A typical course load for
a student wishing to graduate in four years is 15 credit hours per semester. Most
professors of education will tell you that a student wishing to get a sound education
should spend two to three hours outside of class studying for every hour in class. This
translates into (a) 15 hours in class per week, and (b) 30 to 45 hours a week studying.
The calculation here is simple and straightforward --being a good university student,
getting a sound education involves 45 to 60 hours per week –thus, it is a full-time job!
The remainder of that week’s time is available for such activities as: sleeping, eating,
socializing, entertainment, employment, and attending to one’s physical and spiritual
needs.


Your Liberal Arts Education

       The Management Studies faculty and the Labovitz School of Business and
Economics place a high value upon your liberal arts education. As you most likely have
noticed, most of your first two years at the university were spent taking courses to meet
the university’s liberal arts requirements. In addition and as a part of your upper division
work, you will also be required to take many credits outside of the school, emphasizing
once again the importance of your liberal education.

       We strongly value this liberal arts education for several reasons. First, for your
benefit and that of the community in which you will live, we value your becoming an
informed, inquisitive, and an educationally well-rounded citizen. Second, in order to be a
successful manager, it is critical that you understand the general environment within
which you and your organization are embedded. This entails an understanding of, for
example, the economic, legal, political, technological, historical, international, social and
cultural context that surrounds our organizations. Most employing organizations don’t
want to hire just technicians; they want future managers who can and will represent them
well within a variety of public and community contexts, and a liberal arts preparation is
essential for these roles.


The ‘Business’ Core

       Most of the courses that comprise the Labovitz School of Business and Economics
(LSBE) Core consists of courses that are focused on the organizational functions –
Finance, Human Resources, Marketing, and Operations, which is coupled with
Accounting from a set of lower division required courses. These are coupled with several
supporting courses in Business Law and Management Information Systems. These
courses will be more important to the Organization Management majors than to any of
the other students in the Labovitz School of Business and Economics. We see those
courses as an integral part of your management major.

        Managers and those who aspire to be successful managers need to be well versed
in the understanding of each of these organizational functions. Those called upon to
manage organizations and organizational operations need to think about the ‘whole
system’ and not just one of its internal divisions (e.g., the Finance Department,
Production/Operations Department, Human Resources Department). Those called upon
to manage organizations and organizational operations need to understand, play a team
role within, and be able to integrate all of the organization’s functions (i.e., accounting,
finance, operations, marketing, and human resources), as decisions are made, as plans are
formulated, and as activities are coordinated and controlled. Without an intimate
understanding of each of these activities, you will find yourself incapable of thinking
about and understanding the larger picture (i.e., the business or organization) as a whole,
and dealing effectively in your use of these functions.


Your Concentrated 21 Credits in Organizational Management

        Your studies will be focused in three important areas, each of which is intended to
facilitate your understanding of the practice of management or organizations, best
conceptualized as a socio-technical system. You will be asked to select courses from
three distinct areas within the domain of management and organizational studies. These
include macro-organizational behavior, micro-organizational behavior, and management
and the management process.

       Macro-Organizational Behavior Courses –these courses are intended to focus
      your studies on the organization. They will add to your understanding and
      appreciation of the context within which organizations function (i.e., its task
      environment), the structure of an organization (e.g., bureaucracies, virtual
      organizations, and high involvement organizations), organizational processes (e.g.,
      decision making), and ultimately the behavior of organizations (e.g., productivity,
      innovation).

      Micro-Organizational Behavior Courses – these courses are intended to focus
      on the study of individuals and groups within a work and organizational context,
      and the study of internal processes and practices that affect individuals and groups
      (e.g., affect their motivation and performance behavior).

      Management and Management Process –these courses are intended to focus
      your studies on the practice of management (e.g., decision making, planning,
      controlling) within the work organization and larger organizational context (e.g.,
      economic, cultural, global).


Your Summer Work Experiences

        With the forever rising cost of education, we recognize the necessity of ‘working’
that faces the majority of today’s university students. That said, we would like to
strongly encourage you to use your summers to gain a variety of work and organizational
experiences. Both will assist you by providing you with some real world experiences
within which to anchor the literature to which you will be exposed through the different
courses in your major. Most future employers are looking for well educated students,
students who have a literature-based understanding of organizations and organizational
operations, and people who have a true sense of ‘organizational reality’ that comes from
first-hand organizational experiences. A sense of this organizational understanding can
only come from the work experiences that you accumulate outside of the university.

       In addition, and as a part of this joint educational/summer experience process, we
encourage you to give serious consideration to making an Internship part of your formal
educational experience. More can be learned about internship opportunities by speaking
with the individual who coordinates this program for students within the Labovitz School
of Business and Economics.


Your Organizational Management Faculty

       The Organizational Management faculty are confident that the quality of your
education will be second to none. Our faculty are well-prepared, dedicated, creative, and
caring scholars who will challenge you in many ways to stretch your minds. The
Organizational Management faculty consists of seven people, who are passionately
committed to the education of our undergraduate students. The following words, taken
from our value statement, speak to this matter. “We are Committed to the Intellectual
Growth and Development of People. We will strive to make this vision a reality: (a)
through our commitment to the creation, interpretation, application, and dissemination of
knowledge, and (b) by working to create an environment in which students are
encouraged to consume knowledge, think, question, analyze, and explore problems and
their solutions, and to articulate their own emerging theories of management and
organizations.”

      Your full-time faculty consist of:

      Dr. Geoffrey G. Bell (Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1999, Strategic
             Management)
      Dr. Patricia Borchert (Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 2006, Entrepreneurship
             and Strategic Management)
      Dr. Anne L. Cummings (Ph.D., University of Illinois, 1997, Organizational
             Behavior)
      Dr. Sanjay Goel (Ph.D., Arizona State University, 1995, Strategic Management
             and Entrepreneurship)
      Dr. Kjell R. Knudsen (Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1973, Strategic
             Management). Dr. Knudsen is also the Dean of the Labovitz School.
      Dr. Jennifer Mencl (Ph.D., University of Nebraska, 2004, Organizational Behavior
             and Human Resource Management)
      Dr. Jon L. Pierce (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1977, Organizational Studies)

These faculty are occasionally supplemented by other part-time faculty, drawn from the
local community, who have undergone rigorous screening and are recognized for their
relevant experiences.


Careers in Management

       Where are you headed? Organizational management majors often go into business
for themselves. Many find themselves going to work for a small organization, or
returning home to work within a family business. Finally, many students are attracted to
the larger organizations in our society, many of which recruit graduates into their
‘management trainee pool.’ These people are hired and groomed into the organization’s
culture so that they can be moved into management positions (e.g., departmental
management, assistant store managers) with the prospect that they will eventually move
upward in the organization’s ranks and into higher level management positions.

      In each and every one of these cases, it is critically important that the student’s
education consists of a strong grounding in each of the organization’s functions (i.e.,
accounting, finance, operations, human resources, and operations), and that they also
understand the management process, nature of organizations, and the task environment
that surrounds the organization.

                                                                            June 27, 2006

								
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