Managing Organizations: Experiential MBA Course Teaches Alternatives To The Machine Model


  • Scott A. Noble
  • Kenneth L. Murrell


The nineteenth-century industrial or “machine” model for managing organizations remains the dominant structure in America today. Productivity, worker satisfaction, and America’s place in a global economy suffer as an end result of using this structure – aside from the ethical issues associated with treating people as replaceable parts of a machine. This MBA program offers a course that teaches alternatives to the industrial model based on the work of Argyris, Herzberg, McGregor and others. The course concepts include how motivation differs from movement induced by rewards, and why factors that give satisfaction (such as achievement and recognition rather than material) are long-lasting, more fulfilling, and motivate people more. The course is set up so students personally experience the course concepts. Students work individually on self-analysis, reflection and experience. Students complete an in-depth personal motivation paper. In groups, they use a group project to experience first-hand how course concepts including theories of leadership, conflict management, and decision-making work in a real-life situation. Students plan and teach the class an approved experiential learning exercise of their choice. The exercise is of secondary importance to the primary focus of understanding and experiencing group processes. Desired outcomes for the course include developing awareness and learning the value of a new organizational structure based on course concepts – and learning how meeting the needs of the self and others benefit the individual and the organization. Students set their own learning goals on the first day, and this becomes an integral part of the course. We may conduct an experiential exercise relating to course concepts, depend-ing on time and other constraints.