15.301 | Fall 2006 | Undergraduate

Managerial Psychology


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Recitations: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session


“When I recruited MIT students they had great technical grounding but not a good notion of how the real world works, how to get things done, and how to deal with people.”

Dana Mead, Chairman of MIT Corporation and former CEO, Tenneco Corporation

Most students taking this course are engineers or scientists. Even management majors are mostly looking toward “analyst” jobs on Wall Street or in consulting firms. Although finding a job and succeeding in the first few years is largely dependent on your technical skills, as the quote from Dana Mead suggests, succeeding both in your first job and in your career depends partly on how well you can deal with organizations and the people in them. Each of you will work in organizations (hi-tech start-ups, medium and large corporations, government labs, universities) of varying sizes and characteristics. Over one-half of you will become managers even if you do not take graduate management training.

This course introduces you to behavioral science theories, methods, and tools and provides opportunities to use and apply them to problems you will encounter in your work and career. The behavioral approach includes knowledge about human behavior in general as well as behavior in work settings, a set of techniques or research methods used to find out about human behavior in a systematic way, and communications, teamwork, negotiations, conflict resolution, leadership and organizational analysis skills needed to be effective in the modern workplace. It is expected that at the end of the course you will: (a) know something about managerial psychology, (b) know how to learn more, (c) understand the behavioral research process, (d) develop skills in presenting your ideas in oral and written reports.


The class meets in lecture twice a week. Most of the lectures will present frameworks and descriptions about the psychology and sociology of organizations and the institutional context of work and careers. The course material will begin with an overview of work and organizations in modern industrial society, and then examine individual behavior, move to behavior in groups or teams, and finally discuss organizations as a whole.

Once a week, the class will meet in small sections. Sections will be used primarily to teach statistics and research methods, manage the group research projects (discussed later), and fulfill the communication requirement. However, classes may also discuss lecture material and readings, carry out experiential exercises and case discussions, and assign homework.

15.301 and 15.310

15.301 is a 15-unit course that includes a team project and assignments that fulfill the Communication Requirement. 15.310 is a 9-unit course that covers the same content but does not include the team project, nor does it fulfill the Communication Requirement. Students taking 15.310 attend the same lectures each week at 15.301, but they have a separate section meeting that will discuss cases and experiential exercises rather than statistics and research projects.


There are two books that students should purchase:

Greenberg, Jerald. Managing Behavior in Organizations. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2004. ISBN: 9780131447462.

Cialdini, Robert B. Influence: Science and Practice. 4th ed. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 2000. ISBN: 9780321011473.

This is a really well-written set of principles and examples of getting people to do things. We will use these essential ideas and skills to satisfy the Communications Requirement as well as to enrich the course.

In addition, there will be a course packet of additional required readings, and another one that has the readings assigned for recitation.



There will be two quizzes that will cover readings and lecture material. The first quiz is a take-home that requires three 1-2 page essays. The second quiz will be in-class and will include some multiple choice and short answer questions.

Participation and Presentations

15.310 will count participation both in class and in recitation. Two students will be assigned to each case, one will be responsible to present the case and the other to bring forth examples from previous experiences that illustrate or contrast with the situation described in the case. The cases will be assigned during the first recitation.


There will be an individual paper. The details are in the assignments section.

Email Assignments

There will be an assignment for each recitation that will be due on the Thursday before the recitation at midnight. These are 300 to 500 words long and should be sent to your TA. No late email assignments will be accepted. These will be graded as “better than most”, “typical”, and “weaker than most”.

Grading for 15.310

Individual paper 20%
Quiz #1 15%
Quiz #2 15%
Class participation 10%
Recitation participation 10%
Email assignments 25%
Case presentation 5%
Total 100%

Class Participation and Conduct

Your class participation will be evaluated subjectively, but will rely upon measures of punctuality, attendance, familiarity with the required readings, relevance and insight reflected in classroom questions, and commentary. Although the class is taught in lecture mode, I will rely heavily upon interactive discussion within the class. I expect students to be familiar with the readings, even though they might not understand all of the material in advance. Questions and comments are strongly encouraged.

Class Participation Includes Punctuality in Attendance

We expect you to arrive, be seated, and be ready for class on time, and to stay in class for the entire session. Arriving late is inconsiderate to fellow students as well as to the instructor. Latecomers also miss announcements, handouts, and the initial set-up of the class topic. We ask that you use a name card for the first few weeks until we learn your names.

Class Participation also Includes Maintaining a Professional Atmosphere in Class

This means no computer use in class unless specifically required, and refraining from distracting activities during class (side conversations or games). Cold calls may be directed at a student who walks in late or seems to be inattentive in class.

We may call on you periodically to answer questions about either the homework or classroom developments. Cold calls may be chosen randomly from all students, or directed at students who have not spoken in a while. We will evaluate your classroom participation on the basis of the extent to which you contribute to the learning environment. Disagreeing with the professor is ok, as long as we remain respectful of each other. Asking what appear to be “dumb questions” about what is being covered is also ok: very often half of the class will have the same questions in mind and be relieved to have them asked.

Policy on Individual Work

Except for the team project assignments, written homework must represent your own individual work. Copying or otherwise using any other outside materials on an assignment without proper citation and reference constitutes a violation called plagiarism (for more information please visit: MIT Libraries). Any student who copies or knowingly allows his/her work to be copied or who uses outside materials in the preparation of assignments without proper citation and reference will receive an F grade for the assignment. Similar papers may not be submitted to separate courses without explicit prior approval of both instructors. During exams, any student who either receives or knowingly gives assistance or information concerning the exam will receive an F grade on the exam.

MIT’s reputation as a great university and the source of important original research rests on having the highest standards of Academic Integrity. The above violations of the Policy on Individual Work are also violations of MIT’s Standards of Academic Integrity. Such cases may be brought before the MIT Committee on Discipline. Every year over a dozen such cases are brought against undergraduates and graduate students who turn in work that is copied from other students, from internet sites or other sources, or used without proper citation. In many of these cases the students have been suspended from MIT, had their degrees withheld, and had notations placed on their permanent transcripts.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2006
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Written Assignments