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Organisational behaviour in the workplace

In this course, we consider how we connect with wider social behaviours from business and other organisations, studying their evolution in our increasingly digital society. The focus is on interactions inside and outside organisations, and the wide variety of environments that organisations network with in our economic, political and social world. We look at internal organisational behaviours, how organisations relate to their wider environments, individual behaviours of senior managers and their impact on the external environment. We'll also see how developments in external environments and increasing digitisation impacts on our own behaviour and on our roles as citizens.

Standalone study only

You will not be awarded credits for studying this course. It is available for standalone study only and cannot be counted towards an OU qualification.

Short course

Short course code



This is a non-credit bearing course.

Study method

Short course cost

Entry requirements

What you will study

The course is composed of eight units:

Unit 1
The first unit looks at how our word choices are important signals of attitudes and possible behaviours, and provides important clues as to how organisations strategically plan and structure themselves. We'll also consider how digital developments are bringing new challenges for how organisations think about themselves, and how they relate to their customers. To do this, we'll blend some classic organisational behavioural ideas with new insights, using retailer John Lewis as a mini case-study.

Unit 2
In this unit, which partners with unit 1, we'll consider organisational cultures as the counterpart of organisational structures. We will use Schein’s model of cultural variation to consider different ways an organisational culture might be surfaced to provide insight on hidden values and behaviours at work.

Unit 3
During this unit we'll switch our focus outward to consider how organisations behave in relation to the external environments they operate in. We'll consider how they set their boundaries and relate to different stakeholder groups, using examples from fast fashion to explore different options of working with staff and suppliers, and what that means for behavioural responsibilities.

Unit 4
This unit works in partnership with unit 3, where we'll take the opportunity to dive into two popular trends as illustration of the types of environmental changes organisations need to interact with. These are business ethics and digital innovation; we'll use case studies from Volkswagen and breast cancer awareness, alongside implications from big data adoption to help you explore some of the issues at play.

Unit 5
In this unit, we'll change focus from organisations as a whole to study the behaviours of actors and groups of actors inside them, specifically introducing the topic of power relations in the workplace. We will consider the implications of power and power relations at work, briefly considering different perspectives on relative contributions at work.

Unit 6
This unit features a case study of the 2008 banking crisis. It partners with the ideas from unit 5 to allow you to both explore how times of difficulty can provide insights on positive and negative organisational behaviours, and also to consider the ability of businesses to impact wider social environments.

Unit 7
There's a slight change of direction with this unit as we look at how we might relate to some of the impacts made on us by organisations, and other social and political bodies such as governments. We'll use a blend of a classic sociology text combined with recent digital insights to help you explore how we might be nudged or boosted in public life.

Unit 8
Our final unit partners with unit 7 in considering impacts of organisational and governmental decisions and technological enhancements. This time we'll take a future-orientated perspective to look at how decisions are being informed and shaped now, and what that means for us as active citizens.

You will learn

By studying this course, you'll learn how to: 

  • explain key terms relating to organisational behaviour
  • understand the words we choose to define organisations and their behaviour
  • compare internal and external organisational behaviours
  • understand what is meant by organisational responsibilities and stakeholder theories
  • evaluate the importance of ethical responsibilities for organisations
  • explore aspects of power and power relations in the workplace
  • explore how times of difficulty can provide insight on organisational behaviours
  • consider when organisational behaviours go wrong and the wider social impact
  • consider impacts from organisational and societal behaviours
  • apply insights on behavioural thinking to the way we are managed
  • consider future applications of technology to our human and social behaviours.

Learner support

Expert, confidential learner support is available when you need it from a learning adviser, who will respond to you directly. Other support is available via the course forum, dedicated website and computing helpdesk.

Practice-based assignment

There is a practice-based assignment (PBA) which you complete at the end of the course to demonstrate how you have applied, or are intending to apply, the theories and models you have learnt. Once completed and successfully passed you will receive a digital badge and a course completion certificate which you can download as a record of your learning.


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

There are no formal academic requirements.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact us.

Course length

The course will require around 20 hours to complete.

You can begin at any time during the life of the course and study at your own pace.


Start End England fee Register
At anytime before registration end date Jan 2025 - see Entry requirements for more detail £250.00

Registration closes 31/07/2024


Ways to pay

Credit/Debit Card – We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron.

Sponsorship – If this course is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could ask your employer to sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. Your sponsor just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.

The fee information provided here is valid for short courses starting in the 2024/25 academic year. Fees typically increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules.

Can you study an Access module for free?

Depending on eligibility and availability of places, you could apply to study your Access module for free.

To qualify, you must:

  1. be resident in England
  2. have a household income of less than £25,000 (or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit)
  3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above or successfully completed 30 credits or more of OU study within the last 10 years

How to apply to study an Access module for free

Once you've started the registration process, either online or over the phone, we'll contact you about your payment options. This will include instructions on how you can apply to study for free if you are eligible and funded places are still available.

If you're unsure if you meet the criteria to study for free, you can check with one of our friendly advisers on +44 (0)300 303 0069, or you can request a call back.

Not eligible to study for free?

Don't worry! We offer a choice of flexible ways to help spread the cost of your Access module. The most popular options include:

  • monthly payments through OUSBA
  • part-time tuition fee loan (you'll need to be registered on a qualification for this option)

To explore all the options available to you, visit Fees and Funding.

What's included

All learning materials, exercises, study support and practice-based assignment are delivered entirely online. 

Computing requirements

You'll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11), or macOS Ventura or higher.

Functionality may be limited on mobile devices. For example, voice recorder activities, which are common in language short courses, may not work on iOS/Apple devices.

Our module websites comply with web standards and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile App will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It's not available on Kindle.

It's also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you'll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.

If you have a disability

The course is delivered online and makes use of a variety of online resources. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer or the internet you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs.

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying BGXC010 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.