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HR2002: Human Capital in Organisations

Session: Semester 1, 2016/17

Module Instructors:
Indira Pant (Coordinator)
Lowe Joo Yong
Usa Skulkerewathana
Sherry Aw
Alyssa Liang
Neha Tripathi


Module synopsis
This multi-disciplinary module invites students to examine, from different perspectives, major themes
pertaining to the management of human capital - the collective value of employees capabilities,
knowledge, skills, life experiences and motivation - in a knowledge-intensive and changing world.

The module targets students who wish to seek foundational knowledge of the principles of human
interactions in the workplace. Departing from the more conventional approaches, students will
examine the dynamics of and constraints to individual and organisational behaviours in the context of
the challenges posed by an increasingly competitive global landscape.

Besides looking into the structure and culture of organisations, this module also explores individual
behaviours, thoughts and feelings of organisational members with reference to social processes. The
themes covered in the module would provide students with a range of concepts with which to
make sense of the human resource challenges arising out of companies needs to strategically adapt
themselves to the forces of change in order to build a sustainable competitive advantage.

Learning outcomes
This module seeks to re-orientate students perceptions and thinking in an era of new business
paradigms. Thus, the module is designed to:

examine how organisations and individuals respond to global forces that fundamentally impact
an organisations environment;
provide a framework for understanding the structure and culture of organisations and how the
interactions of different components of an organisation impact ones performance;
develop an understanding and appreciation of the issues that arise when working with diverse
gain insight into the importance of ones leadership and team roles in negotiating through the
web of organisational life; and
rethink ones mental models, performances and contributions in the organisations of today
with a view to achieving career objectives

Modes of teaching and learning
The teaching format of this module is via lectures and tutorials. The lectures cover key concepts and
their applications through organizational examples. The discussion-based tutorials are designed to be
flexible, interactive and supportive of learning. Students are urged to make the best use of this mode
of teaching to cultivate an active learning mindset, and to be involved and participative.

Globalisation and Its Effects on the Workplace
In the globalised workplace, everyone must respond to a rapidly changing society and constantly shifting
demands and opportunities. Far-reaching and innovative changes in information technology are
transforming organisations, bringing added emphasis to knowledge management. This segment
explores globalisation and its impact on organisations, the work environment and individuals.

Organisation Structure, Culture and Strategy
This segment explores how organisations respond to the demands of the globalised environment in
order to thrive and survive by aligning their structure, culture and strategy. Students will look at
various ways by which organisations structure their processes to create value. The critical role of
culture in the success of an organisation is also e xamined.

People and Processes in Organisations
An important part of organisational life involves working with and through diverse people. In the
context of changing business paradigms, the ability to negotiate organisational hierarchies and
complexities becomes paramount to success at work. Hence, this segment focuses on people and their
interactions with one another at the workplace. It explores the range of social and emotional
competencies required by individuals to perform and contribute effectively in the role of a leader or a
team member. Central to the discussion would be emphases on theories and concepts that would
enable students to find new perspectives and approaches in managing relationships in organisations. An
amalgamation of the know-how to manage ones emotions, an ability to negotiate role-identities and
build effective work relationships with diverse individuals would be vital to creating synergy at work and
achieving a satisfactory level of work performance.

The Self in Organisations
This segment examines the multifaceted tasks and challenges encountered by individuals in an
organisational setting. As organisations strive to become more competitive in the global business
environment, individuals are expected to manage new forms of pressures and relationships. Hence, the
ability to be aware of, make sense of and develop ones capabilities is of utmost importance to perform
effectively in the highly competitive work place of today. Change is inevitable, and the premium is on
the adaptability of the individual to these changes. In the light of these unprecedented demands on
students whose entry to the workplace is imminent, this segment of the module focuses on the
individuals ability to learn; and o n making strategic c hoices to manage c areer development.

Lecture schedule with readings

Lectures: LT17, Tuesdays, 09:00-10:00 or 13:00-14:00
Tutorials start in Week 3

Lecture Topics
Main Readings
09 Aug No lecture
Public holiday: National Day
16 Aug Course overview
Parker, B. (2005). An introduction to Globalisation.
The effects of
23 Aug
Introduction to Globalisation and business (ch. 1, pp. 126).
London: Sage Publications.
Jones, G, (2012). Organisational transformations: Birth,
growth, decline, and death. Organisational theory, design,
30 Aug
and change (7th ed., ch. 11, pp. 327355). Pearson
International Edition.
Kates, A & Galbraith, J. (2007), Fundamentals of
06 Sept
Organisation Design. Designing Your Organisation, (ch.1,
structure and culture
pp.1-26) John Wiley & Sons Inc.
13 Sept Project research week Nil
Recess Week
Lim, G.S., Mathis, R.L. & Jackson, J.H. (2010).
Union/Management Relations. Human Resource
27 Sept Industrial relations
Management, An Asia Edition (ch. 17, pp. 552-583).
Cengage Learning.
Riggio, R. E. & Reichard, R. J. (2008). The emotional and
social intelligences of effective leadership: An emotional
and social skill approach. Journal of Managerial
04 Oct
Psychology, 23 (2), 169-185.
Walesh, S (2012). The Leader within you: Let it come out!
Leadership and Management in Engineering, 12(1), 37-38.
Role identities and
Turner, Jonathan H. (2013) Symbolic Interactionist Theory
11 Oct workplace
of Identity. Contemporary Sociological Theory Ch 16. Pp
331-355. Sage publications.
Fernandes, C. R., & Polzer, J. T. (2013). Diversity in groups.
Diversity at the
In R. Scott & S. Kosslyn (Eds.), Emerging trends in the social
18 Oct
and behavioral sciences: An interdisciplinary, searchable,
and linkable resource (pp. 1-14). Wiley.
Kendall, D (2011) Socialization. Sociology in Our Times: The
25 Oct The self
essentials (8th ed., ch. 3, pp. 74-103). Wadsworth, Cengage
Wen, Hengfu (2014). The nature, characteristics and ten
01 Nov Learning
strategies of learning organisations. International Journal
of Educational Management. Vol. 28 No. 3 pp 289-298.
Kopelman, S., Feldman, E., McDaniel, D. & Hall, D. (2012)
Mindfully negotiating a career with a heart. Organisational
Dynamics, 41, 163-171.
08 Nov careers
Yehuda Baruch (2004), Transforming careers: from linear
& Course review
to multidirectional career paths, Career Development
International (Vol 9 No.1), Emerald Group Publishing Ltd

Tutorial discussion questions and project topics

The effects of globalisation
1. Find out how engineering companies in Asia are coping with the effects of globalisation.
2. Has globalisation opened new opportunities or shut them for you? Explain.

Organisational transformations
1. Is the resistance of individuals to change the main obstacle to organisational transformation?
2. Are crises key drivers for successful organisational change? Illustrate with examples of Asian
engineering companies.

Organisational structure and culture
1. Examine how Asian engineering organisations adapt their strategy, structure and culture to transform
2. What are some unique or special organisational cultural practices that you know of in Asian engineering
organisations? Have they helped or hindered these organisations?

Industrial relations
1. Evaluate the pros and cons of the tripartite system in Singapore. What improvements would you
2. As engineering graduates, you may not be unionised, so what can you do to protect your interests?

Leadership intelligences
1. Which is more important for leadership? Social or emotional skills?
2. Find out from practicing engineers, what leadership skills can be learned. How can you build these skills
as engineering students in NUS?

Role identities and workplace interactions
1. Examine the multiple roles of a leader to illustrate concepts related to role identity.
2. Examine the challenges you face in carrying out the demands of the multiple roles that you perform as
a student. How would you overcome them?

Diversity at the workplace
1. Managing diversity is about balancing rationality and emotionality. Discuss.
2. Is there a diversity problem between engineers and non-engineers at the workplace? How can it be

The self
1. Why is managing interpersonal relations at the workplace a big challenge for some people while it is
easy for others?
2. Globalisation has created both opportunities and challenges for engineering graduates. What self-
concept will enable you to address them?

1. How can Asian engineering organisations foster a learning culture amongst employees?
2. Learning is really the individuals responsibility. Discuss.

Understanding careers
1. If an engineer pursues a non-engineering career, how can he or she ensure that the 4 years of
engineering education are not a waste?
2. Find out from practising engineers in Asia what they see as important career competencies for
engineering professionals.

Students will be assessed on the basis of both individual and group work. Continuous assessments
account for 50% of the final grade, while the final open-book examination makes up the other 50%.

I. Continuous Assessments (50%)
There will be 2 continuous assessments as follows:

CA1 Learning Contribution 15%

CA2 Group Project 35%

Part 1. Presentation

Part 2. Report

CA1 Learning Contribution (15%)
For learning contribution, marks will be awarded based on active and quality contribution to class
discussion as well as for demonstrating a good learning attitude.

CA2 Group Project (35%)
This is a group assessment. Please check with your tutor for more details on groupings for the project.
Each group will be assigned a project topic by the respective tutor. This project comprises two parts:

Part 1 Presentation (15%)
The tutors will schedule the presentations starting from about Session 7. Each week one group will
make a 20-minute presentation followed by a 10-minute Q&A. All group members must be present
on the day of the presentation.
The presentation will be assessed on the following:
a. Relevance and quality of information presented;
b. Depth of critical analyses and discussion;
c. Adding value to audience learning and understanding of the topic;
d. Effectiveness of the delivery

Part 2 Report (20%)
In addition to the presentation, groups will work on the assigned topic to prepare a written
report. The report should not exceed 3000 words, excluding references and be submitted no later
than Session 12 in class. Submissions made after the deadline may not be granted credit.
The report will be assessed on the following:
a. Introduction of new perspectives and insights pertaining to the topic;
b. Application and evaluation of your experiences, personal and/or organisational, in the
context of the topic; and
c. Synthesis of information collected through primary and secondary research so as to add value
to the discussion of the topic.

For primary research, the methodologies that can be used for collecting data include field studies,
company visits, in-depth interviews, surveys and focus group discussions.

For secondary research, the following journals and periodicals provide a wealth of information
that students could use in their further reading and research:
Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Administrative Science
Quarterly, Human Relations, Harvard Business Review, Journal of Applied Psychology and
Journal of Organisational Behaviour.

Mere reproduction materials from lectures or reference sources is actively discouraged. Students
should add value via primary research, new insights and opinions supported by critical application
of concepts learned.

II. Final Exam (50%)
This is a 1 hour open-book examination. Students are required to answer 2 out of 3 questions (25%
each). Details of the date, time and venue for the exam will be announced later.

For Engineering students only.

Academic Honesty & Plagiarism
Academic integrity and honesty is essential for the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge. The University
and School expect every student to uphold academic integrity & honesty at all times. Academic dishonesty
is any misrepresentation with the intent to deceive, or failure to acknowledge the source, or falsification
of information, or inaccuracy of statements, or cheating at examinations/tests, or inappropriate use of

Plagiarism is the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own' (The
New Oxford Dictionary of English). The University and School will not condone plagiarism. Students should
adopt this rule - You have the obligation to make clear to the assessor which is your own work, and which
is the work of others. Otherwise, your assessor is entitled to assume that everything being presented for
assessment is being presented as entirely your own work. This is a minimum standard. In case of any
doubts, you should consult your instructor.

Additional guidance is available at:
Online Module on Plagiarism: