15.668 | Fall 2010 | Undergraduate

People and Organizations


Individual Paper

You will select an organization to analyze using the conceptual tools provided in this course. It can be a company, a public sector organization, an NGO (nongovernmental organization such as Oxfam), or even an MIT laboratory. The only constraint on your choice is the size of the organization (it should have more than a dozen people). The individual assignment will be your analysis of that organization: you will develop an initial analysis, receive feedback from the instructors on your draft, and then revise and expand it in response to the feedback to produce the final draft. Papers should be 10-15 pages in length.

The relevant due dates are:

  • Ses #7: Submit a paragraph identifying the organization you have chosen and briefly stating why you are interested in it.
  • Ses #15: First draft of individual assignment due.
  • Ses #24: Final copy of individual assignment due.

Selecting an Organization

Pick an organization in which you have a strong personal interest. For example, select an organization in which you might be interested in working after graduation, or an organization that is a very significant player in a sector in which you plan to work (e.g. a regulatory agency or a dominant firm). If you have ambitions to become an entrepreneur, you might want to select a growing entrepreneurial organization. If you choose to analyze a very large organization, pick one department or an office (some sub-unit of the organization) on which to focus your analysis.

Because one requirement for the assignment is to interview at least one member of the organization, it can be convenient to select an organization in the area, but it is not essential. Interviews can be conducted by phone.

Analyzing the Organization

You should use publicly available information to begin your analysis: the organization’s Web site is often the best starting point. Remember, however, that you are using the Web site as a source of data for the analysis; do not simply copy material off the Web site. Your assignment is an analysis, not a data-dump. In addition, the Lexis-Nexis database provides useful material on many organizations.

You will need to interview at least one member of the organization (either a current member or one who has recently left it). It can be very useful to make an initial contact with your informant early in the research process, to ensure that the person is indeed willing to talk with you. You will find the informant most useful, however, after you have done the preliminary work with the publicly available materials.

The purpose of the assignment is to develop your ability to use the conceptual frameworks and tools from the course. Your analysis should use the “three lenses” to provide insight into the strategic design, the political system, and the culture of the organization you have chosen. Take the perspective of someone who is about to join this organization: what should they know about the organization to act effectively in an entry-level position, with aspirations to succeed in the organization.

Individual Paper Example

Student work is courtesy of the MIT student, and is used with permission.

Camp Kesem MIT: A Three Lens Analysis (PDF)

Team Paper

Your table team is responsible for writing a 10-15 page assessment of an organizational response to some specific “crisis” or critical challenge facing the organization that requires the organization to either change from past practices or take on a new set of responsibilities. The organization could be MIT (e.g., how has MIT organized its response to the Haitian earthquake and recovery efforts) or some other organization. As in the individual paper, you are to apply the conceptual frameworks and tools from the course to:

  • Provide a three-lens analysis of how your chosen organization has responded to the crisis;
  • Assess the processes used to date to lead, manage, and communicate its response and the changes it plans to make to address the challenges at hand;
  • Use the Sloan Leadership Model to analyze how the organization’s leaders responded to the crisis;
  • Offer recommendations for how to manage the on-going change process to ensure its success.

You will need to collect data from both the individuals/leaders working on the problem and those you believe have a significant stake in the issue.

The relevant due dates are:

  • Ses #14: Submit a paragraph describing the change you will study.
  • Ses #24: Team in-class reports due.
  • Ses #25: Team paper due.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2010
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Written Assignments