Business organisations and their environments
Business organisations come in all shapes and sizes, and form a central feature of our everyday lives. Our experiences of business organisations vary depending on where we are globally, but we interact with them daily in very personal ways. This module is inspired by the ways in which these organisations are conceived, function, survive and prosper in these turbulent times of the twenty-first century. It is a practical module, grounded in your own experience of business organisations as an employee, customer or stakeholder, and is designed to develop your personal and professional practice in diverse business environments. The module is taught mainly via the internet and you'll take part in an online collaboration with other students.
What you will study
We have considered how the internet impacts on the way we live every day and certainly on the way we work and interact with myriad business organisations. Web literacy and the ability to work collaboratively with others in an online environment are now core business skills. To offer you an up-to-date learning experience this module is presented mainly via the web making full use of the OU’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and keeping pace with the rapidly changing global business environment.
This module examines the environments in which business organisations operate. It also looks at how these environments shape, and are shaped by, the ways in which these organisations function. It does this by using theoretical ideas about (and models of) these relationships. You’ll learn by sharing and widening your experiences and analysing them in innovative ways around three key themes:
- You’ll focus on the relationship between theory and practice. In its teaching and learning approach, this module encourages both reflection on practice and consideration of the implications of theoretical and ethical debates for the operation of businesses in the modern world.
- You’ll explore the diverse and complex worlds of business: nationally and internationally; large and small; and between the diverse range of organisations that engage with business, including public bodies and the social economy.
- You’ll use different theoretical models to investigate the implications of different ways of thinking about the business environment.
Key features of the module are that it:
- explores current global, regional and local issues in business supported by relevant and interesting examples
- explores the current state of academic knowledge and ideas of some classic business scholars in a guided way
- makes creative use of online technologies to enhance the teaching and learning of business organisations and their environments
- challenges your thinking and perceptions of business organisations and their relationship with the society we live in
- unravels some of the wider debates and controversies that exist in theoretical and practical understanding of business organisations and their environments.
The structure of the module is organised into four blocks.
Block 1: Encountering Organisations, starts by asking you to assess your current knowledge and understanding of business organisations. It then helps you to develop your skills using the online tutor group forum to reach a shared understanding with your fellow students. You’ll use an online tool to develop your portfolio of skills and abilities. You will also work through an introduction to the module themes and discover ways you can reflect on your relationship and experiences of business organisations and their environments.
Block 2 The Evolution of Organisations, explores how the organisations we see today have been shaped. Against the backdrop of organisation theory, you’ll investigate the internal and external factors that shape business and that business seeks to influence. This will include theoretical analyses and discussions of some internal factors that influence the nature and direction of a business anywhere, like culture, structure, management and control. You’ll also explore the ways in which external factors, like national culture, external control (such as law and regulation), and technological and economic issues impact on the relationships between business organisations and their environments. There will be an online group collaborative activity preparing for the fourth tutor-marked assignment during study weeks 16-19. You will need regular access to the internet during the four weeks of this collaborative activity in February, a fact you may want to consider when making holiday or travel plans.
Block 3: The Context of Organisations, focuses on three sets of overarching debates and issues that are current in the world of business and continually impact on the performance of business organisations. These issues are globalisation, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and regulation. Each topic is explored through case-study materials and theoretical debates about the implications of these issues for business organisations.
Block 4: Re-encountering Organisations, considers what organisations may look like in the future. Are emerging organisational forms, such as open-source networks and social enterprises, just a transient phase? Or are such forms the start of a revolution in the operation of business? What are the implications of this for the business environment? How will changes in contemporary business impact how we work together?
Supporting study materials
Throughout the module, there is a strong focus on the practical implications of the debates you consider and how these link into your experience of the world of business. The main study materials will be delivered online with embedded audio and video links and via DVD and interactive study materials. This material illustrates the issues raised and links into tutorial discussion and activities to develop your understanding. The use of blogs and collaborative work will foster group learning.
The module is for you if you want a general overview of modern business and the ways in which they relate to their environments. It makes as few assumptions as possible about what you already know and about your experience of formal academic study. However, this is an OU level 2 module and if you have no previous experience of studying business , it is strongly recommended that you first study An introduction to business and management (B100) (or its equivalent).
If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.
Main study material, four blocks in 29 weekly texts including extra resources and activity material, are provided online. Three module readers, a book of supplementary readings, a module guide and a DVD containing copies of the online video material are provided in a hard mailing.
You will need
The ability to play CDs and DVDs.
A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.
Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.
A desktop or laptop computer with either:
- Windows 7 or higher
- macOS 10.7 or higher
The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.
To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones.
Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.