BUU44520 Exploring Organisational Experiences

(20 ECTS) 


Prof David Coghlan

E-mail: dcoghlan@tcd.ie 
Office Hours: By appointment

Lecture: Mondays 16.00 B101/102

Seminars: Tuesdays, 11.00 Room 4.36 (TBS) Tuesdays, 13.00 Room 4.36 (TBS)

Module Description: 

This course focuses on developing insider inquiry skills whereby course participants develop an advanced management capability through undertaking inquiry into an organisation with which they have a directly-experienced familiarity. The core ingredient of this course is curiosity and a spirit of inquiry into organisational processes and a learned ability to reflect critically on experience and make sense of it. A general empirical method for “inquiring from the inside” grounds the abductive/clinical approach to the course and participants are required to demonstrate how they are learning to inquire critically into organisational processes in their selected organisation. In this manner the course also provides a formation in a research methodology.

Each participant will select an organisation with which he/she has a directly-experienced familiarity and will engage in critical inquiry and reflection on his/her experience in that organisation, in three papers, a single-page pensee, reflective pauses, a reflective journal and seminars. Lectures and seminars will provide the opportunity for participants to attend to their own learning and to practice the general empirical method so as to learn to move from description to explanation.

All students are expected to keep a reflective journal/notebook (electronically) in which they record accounts of and reflections on their practice of the general empirical method. Initially many of these will be based on the reflective pauses scattered throughout the book but progressively they will be based on the students’ own pursuit of their own questions and insights from experience. As the participation mark is based largely on the journal, students are expected to be proactive in submitting their journals for inspection and feedback consistently during the course.

This is a self-directed course where participants are expected to take initiatives to pursue their own questions through their reflection and their self-selected relevant reading. Success in the course involves participants being able to demonstrate how they have engaged in insider inquiry by applying the general empirical method in pursuing the questions about their respective organisations that arise from their experience and demonstrating how they have learned in the process. It is also a highly participative course where participants are expected to engage in conversations about their inquiry and learning, particularly in the seminars, thereby learn critical team-working skills and how to support others’ learning.

Learning and Teaching Approach:

Individual critical inquiry into experience and group discussions

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module each student will have learned:

  1. To attend to their direct experiences in an organisation
  2. By means of a general empirical method to inquire critically into their experiences so as to come to an understanding of that organisation’s action theory
  3. To reflect on learning from experience

Recommended Texts/Key Reading:

Required core course textbook:

Coghlan, David. Inside Organizations. SAGE: London, 2016.

General Supplemental Readings:

Provided during the course


Assessment will be based on a series of assignments: 

  1. Paper 1 to be submitted at the end of Semester 1 [20%]. 
  2. Paper 2 to be submitted late in Semester 2 [30%]. 
  3. Paper 3 to be submitted at the end of the course [20%]
  4. Participation [30% across the 2 single-page pensees on specific topics, participation at seminars and for the journal/notebook which will be inspected randomly] 


    Papers 1, 2 and 3 act as three chapters of the year’s work. Paper 1 focuses on methodology, Paper 2 on the substantive insider inquiry case and Paper 3 on personal learning. Each paper flows into the subsequent ones.