Principles and Practices of Management

Home Admissions   Course Guide   Principles and Practices of Management  

This Course Guide has been taken from the most recent presentation of the course. It would be useful for reference purposes but please note that there may be updates for the following presentation.

MGT B240

Principles and Practices of Management

Welcome to MGT B240 Principles and Practices of Management! This is a five-credit, one-term, middle-level course within the HKMU Bachelor of Business Administration programmes. There are no advisory prerequisites for this course.

Upon completion of the course, you will be in a better position to understand and analyse various aspects of management issues and practices. You should be able to apply various management theories and concepts to particular business contexts and make better management decisions.

However, management is a practical concept, and just learning concepts and theories is not enough. You will need to integrate them with own observations and experience and apply them in case studies as well as real-life situations.

MGT B240 is delivered using a custom textbook, supplemented by a Study Guide, online multimedia components and learning support sessions.

 

Course aims

The overall aims of MGT B240 are to:

  • Equip you with an understanding of the concepts and theories of management.
  • Provide you with the capability to apply theoretical knowledge in management to different case scenarios and contexts.

Course learning outcomes

Upon completion of MGT B240, you should be able to:

  • Explain what management is and how management thoughts have developed.
  • Analyse the influence of the environment and culture in managing organizations.
  • Explain and apply essential management concepts and principles on planning, organizing, leading and controlling in organizations.

In this custom textbook approach to the course, different learning modules have been selected by the course team from a textbook on management and organized into a single textbook specifically designed for MGT B240 students. By incorporating the latest editions of book chapters, cases, exercises and self-tests from the textbook, the custom textbook will provide you with a comprehensive description, explanation and discussion of the relevant concepts, principles and tools in management.

In addition to the custom textbook, you will be working through the course using an HKMU- produced Study Guide. The Study Guide leads you through your study pathway unit by unit, providing commentary on each textbook chapter and supplementary self-assessment opportunities.

The third main place you will refer to for learning resources during the course is HKMU’s Online Learning Environment (OLE). There, you will have access to a rich array of learning materials such as the introductory video, multimedia resources and feedback on activities and self-tests. You will also be able to discuss topics with other students and your tutor on the course discussion board.

This course is further supported by regular learning support session in the form of live online tutorials and a live online surgery.

 

Introductory video

  • To start off, you should watch the introductory video for the course in the ePub version of this Course Guide or on the OLE. Then turn to the Study Guide for further guidance through the course.

The custom textbook

The title of the custom textbook is MGT B240 Principles and Practices of Management. The chapters are selected from the following textbook:

Robbins, S P and Coulter, M (2021) Management, 15th edn, Pearson.

The Study Guide will indicate at which point you should read each chapter of the custom textbook.

 

The Study Guide

The Study Guide sets out your study pathway through the custom textbook and other course learning resources, and provides supplementary material and additional self-assessment opportunities. You will therefore need to keep it by your side as you work through the course.

The Study Guide is divided into five units. The titles of the units and the custom textbook chapters they will cover are set out in the following table.

 

UnitsCustom textbook chapters
1. Management and the evolution of management thoughtManagers and you in the workplace
Management history module
2. Defining the manager’s terrainInfluence of the external environment and the organization’s culture
Managing in a global environment
Managing social responsibility and ethics
Making decisions
3. PlanningFoundations of planning
4. Organizing and leadingDesigning organizational structure
Managing groups and teams
Understanding and managing individual behaviour
Motivating employees
Being an effective leader
5. ControllingMonitoring and controlling

 

Supplementary lectures (pre-recorded videos)

A series of pre-recorded supplementary lecture videos, which aim to examine the major concepts covered in each unit, will be provided for this course. These videos will be uploaded to the OLE in due course. You are advised to watch them before you start studying a unit for an overview of the unit’s topics. Please also download and skim through the related PowerPoint slides, which are also available on the OLE.

 

The Online Learning Environment (OLE)

A dedicated area for MGT B240 students has been set up in HKMU’s OLE. You will need to log on regularly to the OLE to access the course discussion board and online learning components such as videos, online activities and the ePub version of your Study Guide units.

 

Learning support

You will be supported throughout the course by regular face-to-face meetings in the form of tutorials and a surgery.

 

UnitNo. of weeksLearning supportHours
13Live online tutorial 12
24Live online tutorial 22
32Live online tutorial 32
45Live online tutorial 42
52Live online tutorial 5, Live online surgery4
Total16 12

This course is designed to enable you to move easily from the stated objectives, through the study units, to the assignments and examination. During the course, your progress will be assessed both formally and informally.

Formative assessment includes various activities, self-tests and online discussions that you will undertake while working your way through the study units and textbook.

Summative assessment consists of assignments and a final examination.

 

Assessment summary

The summative assessment items are outlined in the following table.

 

Assessment itemWeighting
Assignment 120%
Assignment 220%
Exam60%
Total100%

 

Assignments

There are two compulsory assignments for the course, each worth 20% of the total marks. You will be expected to apply concepts and techniques acquired during the course when completing the assignments.

 

How to submit assignments

You must use word processing software (such as Microsoft Word) to prepare the assignments and submit the assignments via the Online Learning Environment (OLE). All assignments must be uploaded to the OLE by the due date.

Failure to upload an assignment in the required format to the OLE may result in the score of the assignment being adjusted to zero.

 

Assignment extension policy

The assignment policy of the University as stated in the Student Handbook should be observed. You are required to submit assignments for this course in accordance with the dates communicated by your course coordinator. You may apply for a submission extension on the grounds of illness, accident, disability, bereavement or other compassionate circumstances.

Applications for extensions of up to seven days should be submitted to the tutor. The tutor shall consider valid and unexpected emergencies on an individual basis. Normally, documented proof of the extenuating circumstances is not required for extensions of up to seven days. The tutor shall decide and advise you of the revised date for submission.

For extensions of over seven days, you should note the following:

  1. If you require an extension of more than seven days on the grounds of illness, accident, disability, bereavement or other compassionate circumstances, you are required to apply to the Course Coordinator.
  2. Supporting documents must be submitted along with the application for an extension of over seven days to justify the claim.
  3. Applications for an extension should normally be lodged before or on the due date.
  4. Applications are considered by:
    1. the Course Coordinator for extensions of 8 to 21 days; and
    2. the Dean for extensions of over 21 days.

After submitting an assignment via the OLE, it is your responsibility to check that the assignment has been successfully submitted. Extension applications due to any problem with uploading will not be accepted. The University will not accept any responsibility for assignments that are not received by your tutor due to any problem with submission via the OLE. As a precaution, you are advised to keep a copy of each assignment you submit.

According to the University’s policy, no extension of the due date will be allowed for the final assignment. This policy will be strictly enforced. Any late submission of the final assignment will result in the score of the assignment being adjusted to zero.

 

Examination

The final examination for MGT B240 Principles and Practices of Management is worth 60% of the total marks for the course. The examination will be of two hours’ duration and will consist of questions from all parts of the course, reflecting the types of practices, exercises and assignments you will have experienced during your study of this course.

The following table gives a general overview of the course structure. It suggests the amount of time you should allow for completing each unit and provides a broad schedule for you to plan your work. This estimation includes the time for reading the units and custom textbook, completing activities, self-tests and assignments, attending live online tutorials and preparing for your final examination.

 

UnitNo. of weeksAssessment
1. Management and the evolution of management thought3 
2. Defining the manager’s terrain4Assignment 1
3. Planning2 
4. Organizing and leading5Assignment 2
5. Controlling2Examination
Total16 

Case studies are a useful and increasingly popular form of learning and assessment in HKMU’s School of Business and Administration. In this section, we will look at why case studies are used and then suggest some learning strategies that you can use to approach case studies. We will also briefly discuss some problems that you may encounter as you learn from case studies.

 

What is a case study approach to learning?

One main purpose of a case study is to explore an issue or a number of issues in relation to an organization. The intention is to get you to carefully diagnose an organization, focus on the key problems and suggest how they might be resolved. Often the case is a real-life account of an organization which you are required to analyse in order to focus on a problem. Usually, the information provided is incomplete and you are expected to observe developments in the organization over a period of time. The case study approach is an excellent opportunity for you to actively apply conceptual knowledge and material that you have read to the reality of an organization.

At HKMU, case studies may be used as part of assignments, exams, study units or day-school exercises. You are normally given some information about a company (this could be both text and graphical information, such as figures and tables). You are then asked to think about some problems related to the company and to use concepts and apply theories that you have learned in your course to propose possible solutions for the company.

Let’s have a look at two kinds of case study questions that you might be asked to work through in your course. The first example is quite structured, while the second is much more open-ended.

 

Two examples of case study questions

  1. Read the case study entitled ‘ABC Consultants’ and consider the following issues:
    • Based on your understanding of the resource-based model, what measures could be taken to improve ABC’s returns?
    • Drawing on your broad understanding of the consultancy industry, assess ABC’s relative competitiveness and its profit potential.
    • To what extent do internal factors account for ABC’s financial weaknesses?
    • Based on your assessment of ABC’s financial weaknesses, formulate a new strategic intent and develop a mission statement for
  2. Read the case study entitled ‘XYZ Industries’.
    • Identify the key problems that are currently faced by XYZ’s management.
    • Propose viable solutions to these problems.

 

Why case studies?

As you can see from the above examples, a case study approach to learning requires a great deal of thinking and often will not easily yield a quick ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ answer. However, case studies are good preparation for dealing with real-life business problems. Some cases may be short and relatively simple, others longer and more complex. The purpose of both types of cases is the same: to give you an opportunity to develop your skills in analysing the strengths and weaknesses of the organization under examination, to consider the processes at work within the organization, and to make decisions about future actions.

Case studies are not meant to replace textbooks, but rather to prompt you to draw connections between theories and practice, and to apply abstract ideas, concepts and principles to specific concrete situations. Ultimately, through case analyses, you will develop a number of skills that are crucial in business. In particular, they will help you to:

  • analyse complex, unstructured, sometimes ambiguous situations;
  • identify critical issues and problems;
  • question your own and others’ assumptions;
  • improve your problem-solving skills;
  • develop your ability to find alternatives and make informed decisions;
  • make decisions with incomplete information and think strategically;
  • self-educate yourself and draw on a broad range of resources and knowledge; and
  • present and justify your recommendations in writing.

You may find that there are many possible ‘right’ answers to the questions in a case study. This illustrates that there is often no single best way to responsibly manage and solve real-life business problems.

 

Some guidelines for analysing case studies

The following strategies should help you to successfully analyse case studies:

 

1 Read the case and become familiar with the facts

First, skim-read the case to obtain a general understanding of the main point(s). Highlight or underline the pertinent points as you read.

Read the case again, and this time note down the critical facts (such as names, time sequences and where events occurred). Try to understand how events have influenced decisions. Identify the important individuals or stakeholders and try to assess the importance of the supporting information in the case. How reliable is this supporting information? Are there any gaps in the information given?

Make a note of any questions that you may have as you read through the case.

 

2 Assess the context of the case

Try to understand the environment of the organization and the wider context of the case.

Ask yourself questions about:

  • The state of the organization: What is the state of this organization — good, bad or in- between? Usually this involves thinking about interpersonal relationships and assessing production or financial problems.
  • Key players and systems: How do people and systems operate in this organization? Why do they operate like this? Are the systems undergoing change? How successful are the changes? Is there anyone who may sabotage a future strategy? Is there someone who can ensure the success of a future strategy?
  • Significant trends: How does this industry operate? What are the main or unique characteristics of the industry? What were they five or ten years ago, and what are they likely to be in the future? What impact are certain trends likely to have on the organization under investigation? How does this organization’s performance compare with that of its competitors?
  • Constraints: Clearly identify all constraints in the case. A constraint may be viewed as anything (usually beyond the control of the organization) that may prevent an otherwise feasible course of action from becoming a success. What is outside the control of individuals in the case study? For example, it is unlikely that any company or individual in Hong Kong could prevent a foreign government from imposing tariff barriers on imports.

Doing a SWOT analysis is a good way to get a better understanding of the organization and the context or environment in which it is operating.

A SWOT analysis considers the Strengths and Weaknesses of the organization, and the Opportunities and Threats which the organization is facing in the external environment.

 

3 Recognize the case’s symptoms

Read the case again and as you read, try listing all the symptoms of the case. The symptoms of a case are not the problems, but they may help you to identify the problems. Symptoms are all the things that are undesirable or that are not as expected. For example, falling sales could be a symptom of several problems, such as poor market segmentation, poor product quality, or problems in a supply chain. At this stage of your analysis, you should just try to observe all the symptoms and avoid prematurely identifying problems or suggesting solutions. (Like a doctor during a medical consultation, you would first need to observe and note all the symptoms of your patient before giving a definite diagnosis of the problem.) Then think about how the symptoms may be interrelated. Relationship diagrams, like the one below, may help you to see the relationships between symptoms.

 

case_study_Eng

 

4 Diagnose the case’s problems

After getting a good grasp of the symptoms, you’re ready to determine key issues that need to be analysed more closely. You are now diagnosing the situation like a doctor diagnosing a patient’s condition. Ask yourself, ‘What seems to be the trouble in this organization?’ and make a list of what you now perceive to be the key problem(s). You will probably need to go back to the details of the case, and as you do this, you may add to or refine your list of potential problems.

If there are several problems, you will need to order and prioritize them. You might want to number the problems according to your perception of their importance, or make a matrix, like the one below, showing the relationships between various criteria and each problem.

 

CriteriaProblem #1Problem #2Problem #3
Importance: What will happen if the problem is not addressed?   
Urgency: How quickly must this problem be solved?   
Centrality: To what extent does this problem cause others?   
Solvability: Can this problem actually be solved?   

 

Also try to establish if there are relationships or themes in common among the problems. Perhaps different problems in your list are actually variations of a broader central problem.

Ask yourself what assumptions you have made about the case. Are these assumptions reasonable and supported by facts? Would other people objectively suggest the same problems based on the facts you have? Are you suggesting problems that are not supported by the facts of the case?

After you have considered and prioritized the possible problems and questioned your assumptions relating to these problems, you should write a statement of the problems as you perceive them. Avoid suggesting solutions at this stage.

Once you have a problem statement, you need to find evidence in the case to support your problem diagnosis. Also, try to identify ideas, concepts and theories from your textbook and course units which help to explain what is happening in the case.

 

5 Formulate criteria for a ‘good’ solution and identify possible constraints to solutions

Before you propose a solution, you need to consider the characteristics of a ‘good’ solution. Obviously, your solution should bring benefits, such as improved productivity, reduced costs or greater profits. However, it also needs to be viable and be able to accommodate the constraints that you have already identified. For example, you should ask yourself, ‘Is the solution legal? Is there a budget for this solution? Does it conflict with the organization’s culture?’

Try to brainstorm alternative solutions. Aim to generate a broad and creative range of options and then try to rate each according to various criteria.

The following matrix demonstrates how this can be done.

 

 CostEase of implementationImpact on organization cultureImpact on profits
Option 1*******
Option 2*********
Option 3********

 

Also refer to ideas, concepts and theories from your course materials as you consider and assess each possible solution.

It’s often wise to propose a solution that allows for plausible alternatives if it should fail. Managers use the term ‘satisfice’ when they are considering acceptable alternative solutions — that is, they consider whether a solution is able to satisfy the situation while also making some realistic sacrifices to existing constraints. Such a solution is a satisficing one rather than a maximizing one.

Finally, don’t forget to consider the possibility of taking no action. What will actually happen if no action is taken? Are any (or all) of the solutions less viable than taking no action at all?

 

6 Recommend a viable solution

After you have assessed the merits and pitfalls of each alternative solution, select the best solution for the situation.

Remember that the solution needs to be viable. Can the recommended solution be introduced? Are there the resources and the willingness to implement it? Be realistic about what may work. Explain why it is the best solution within the constraints of the existing context and explain how it can be applied to the organization. Suggest a time frame for the solution’s implementation.

Outline possible strategies for implementing your solution, either partially or completely. You should consider as many feasible courses of action as possible before choosing the one that seems the most likely to succeed. The more ideas you have, the greater your chance will be of finding a solution that will work well. The complexity of most organizational problems means that it is highly unlikely that one idea alone will correct the situation. Usually a combination of actions is required, and these need to be funded differently, timed carefully and staffed as necessary.

 

7 Present your solution as a written recommendation

Review your final solutions and then prepare a set of written recommendations. These should clearly outline your proposed solutions in relation to the problems that you have identified. Your recommendations should also include details of why these solutions are the most appropriate given the circumstances and constraints of the case. Finally, you need to clearly state how and when your proposals will be implemented.

Your tutor and your course Assignment File can provide some guidelines on how to present your recommendations.

 

Some mistakes to avoid as you analyse cases

When you first tackle case studies, you should be careful to guard against the following mistakes:

  1. One of the most common mistakes made in case analysis is repeating or simply summarizing the facts of the case. Your tutor is already very familiar with the case details, so you do not have to restate them. You are required to use and analyse the facts, not repeat them. Your analysis should contain only enough case material to support your arguments. Therefore, be analytical!
  2. You may often be tempted to just deal with symptoms and ignore the causes of the problems. It is very important to analyse the background of the case (and the climate in which the events of the case unfold).
  3. Avoid discussing problems in isolation and do not overlook their interrelatedness. If you try to think in terms of ‘systems’ rather than individual problems, you will be more likely to avoid this pitfall.
  4. Students often fail to state the assumptions underlying their analysis. If any important assumptions have been made, have you questioned them and are they reasonable and appropriate? Avoid using and interpreting case material selectively in order to justify a preconceived solution.
  5. Practical limitations and constraints may sometimes be overlooked. For example, a recommendation that a whole team be fired is probably unrealistic.
  6. A very common mistake is poor integration of the facts in the case with the concepts, principles and theories in the textbook. Such integration is vital. Ask yourself if relevant theories from your course have been fully and constructively applied.
  7. Finally, recommendations are too often not spelled out in detail or are unrealistic. A timetable for implementing them is also often omitted.

Analysing cases poses many challenges and this is one reason the case study method is so rewarding. It is a very active form of learning. It offers you a risk-free opportunity to gain managerial and organizational experience and should greatly increase your confidence to make informed decisions in the real world.

Good luck and we hope you enjoy working through the cases that you encounter!

MGT B240 Principles and Practices of Management is a one-term course. It requires a minimum of about 140 hours of study. There are 16 weeks between the start of the course and the final examination, so there is a chance for you to catch up if you fall behind. Remember, you must meet the assignment deadlines. Tutorial sessions will be on set topics and it will be to your advantage if you have done the reading and activities in preparation.

Draw up your own study schedule on a yearly planner in order to help yourself organize the time you spend on the course. You should progress steadily according to the presentation schedule and allocate time for revision before your examination. It’s a good idea to arrange your time so that you follow a consistent pattern of study each week. For example, if it is convenient for you to study on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons, follow this pattern throughout the term. This will ensure that you consistently put around 10 hours per week into your study. A regular study habit is the key to success in distance learning. You should finalize your study schedule before the start of the semester.

We hope that you find your study of MGT B240 interesting and useful. Remember that you will need to put into practice the theories and principles studied in the course. Simply reading about them and being able to discuss them in an examination is not enough to improve your own skills. People with good managerial skills are always in high demand, both in the private sector and in government, so the effort will be worth it.

Remember, too, that although you are responsible for your own study, the staff members of Hong Kong Metropolitan University are here to help you. If you experience difficulties with any aspect of your course, contact your tutor. If you need any further help, contact your Course Coordinator or appropriate staff members of HKMU.

If you wish to defer your studies of this course until a later date, you should apply for deferment of studies. For the regulations governing deferment of studies, please refer to your Student Handbook. If you have applied for deferment of studies, you should continue with your studies of this course and submit the required assignments until formal approval is given by the University. Should you have difficulties in submitting an assignment, you are advised to liaise with your Course Coordinator and apply for an assignment extension. Students who have been granted deferment of studies will not be allowed to submit assignments due before the date that their application for deferment of studies is received by the Registry.

Click here and view the Lee Shau Kee School of Business and Administration.