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Management beyond the mainstream

This module explores practices that may be part of tomorrow’s ‘mainstream’ - because the issues these practices address are now surfacing more widely. Managers work in situations, or from time-to-time face challenges, for which ideas from ‘beyond the mainstream’ will provide more ‘traction’ than relying on ideas from within it. You’ll learn about  alternative ways of organising, working across cultural and sector boundaries, devising strategies for impact, as well as for (or instead of) profit, reading situations in terms of complex systems, learning to embrace dilemmas and the limits to our own thinking, providing leadership even when you cannot provide the answers.  

Vocational relevance

The module will provide approaches and tools relevant to all MBA students. It might have a particular relevance if you are working across cultural or sector boundaries; or in a public body; or if your organisation works in relation to national or local government, e.g., as a contractor, in a highly regulated industry, or is a trade or professional association. 


BB847 is an optional module in our:

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

The module starts by looking at what is meant by ‘mainstream management’, where it has come from, who it was for, and what underpins it. This will provide a little critical distance, and allow you to start drawing up a balance sheet in relation to you own situation and the challenges you face: on the one hand, all that you value from mainstream management; on the other, the gaps and limitations, the occasions when the mainstream offerings don’t seem quite right.

With that preliminary work done, the main body of the module presents frameworks and practices that have emerged to tackle those awkward, different, more complex challenges. You will engage with a selection of these concepts and techniques by understanding where and why they work, and through starting to explore their relevance and use in your own work setting.

The module will give you a chance to explore topics such as:

  • blind spots in management - taking the non-rational aspects of organisational life seriously in both their positive and negative aspects, in yourself and others
  • less, non- and counter-bureaucratic forms of organisation - partnership working, family firms, social enterprises and groups, professional and networked based forms: open source and co-production models
  • systems ideas and how they can help you get to grips with messy problems and ‘soft’ complexity
  • taking the public and public responsibilities seriously - management under regulation, policy processes, public leadership and public engagement
  • management, business and government in non-western settings and cultures - varieties of capitalism around the world; understanding dualism and hybrids.

You will study some of these in greater depth according to your situation and personal priorities.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your assignments and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. You will contact your tutor by telephone, email or via your tutor group forum on the BB847 website.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignment (TMA) and end-of-module assessment (EMA).

Course work includes

1 Tutor-marked assignment (TMA)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Future availability

Management beyond the mainstream starts once a year – in November. This page describes the module that will start in November 2019 when we expect it to start for the last time.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Entry requirements

    If you are studying this module as part of a qualification, such as the MBA (Master of Business Administration) (F61), you will need to have already completed MBA stage 1: management: perspectives and practice (B716). You should also have completed the compulsory stage 2 module The dynamics of strategy (BB835). The next module you must study is Corporate finance (BB831), although you may choose to study an elective module alongside this 15 credits of compulsory finance study.

    Alternatively it is possible to study this module on a standalone basis. You will need to ensure that you have the knowledge and experience to study at postgraduate level. Please note that if you wish to study towards a qualification at a later date you must meet the entry requirements for that qualification.

    The module requires 150 hours of study over six months.

    You will also need an appropriate facility in English language, sufficient to be able to work effectively at postgraduate level; generally this means capability equivalent to an International English Language Test System (IELTS) score of 6.5. To assess your English language skills in relation to your proposed studies you can visit the IELTS website. If you are unsure whether your skill level in English is adequate you may find it helpful to look at our Skills for OU Study site.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


    Start End England fee Register
    02 Nov 2019 Apr 2020 £1490.00

    Registration closes 17/10/19 (places subject to availability)

    November 2019 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    Future availability

    Management beyond the mainstream starts once a year – in November. This page describes the module that will start in November 2019 when we expect it to start for the last time.

    Additional costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    Ways to pay

    We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

    That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options, including a postgraduate loan, if you study this module as part of an eligible qualification. To find out more, see Fees and funding.

    Study materials

    What's included

    An extensive variety of specially written resources presented in different media (print and online) and designed exclusively for this module, audio-visual material, published articles, case-studies, a set of interactive tools to help you develop your management thinking abilities and access to The Open University library.

    Computing requirements

    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
    • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    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.

    If you have a disability

    Elements of this module are delivered online and include the use of real-time online discussions and an interactive whiteboard space; consequently time spent using a computer and the internet will be extensive. If you use assistive technology or have a hearing or speech impairment and have concerns about accessing this type of virtual environment and materials you can visit the system provider’s website for information and contact The Open University to discuss it further before registering.

    Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and mathematical and scientific materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer.