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University of Waterloo MSCI 311 Final Exam

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MSCI 311 Final Exam

Prof. Rob Duimering

Department of Management Sciences

University of Waterloo

Instructions:

Answer TWO of the following three essay-style questions.

For each question, be sure to explain the meaning of key concepts and support your answers with

appropriate examples.

Limit your answers to 600 words per question.

Each question is worth 50%.

Submit your answers on LEARN by 9:00 AM (Waterloo, Canada time), December 14, 2020.

This is an open-book exam to be completed INDIVIDUALLY.

You must sign the following declaration and attach it to your submitted exam.

Declaration:

I confirm that I completed this exam entirely on my own, without consulting any other person.

Name:

UW student ID#:

Signature (e-signature):

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1) Using MSCI 311 as an example, discuss the following two theories about the relationship

between technology and social/organizational arrangements:

- Charles Perrow’s classification of technology based on task variety and analyzability.

- The adaptive structuration view.

In your answer, use examples from MSCI 311 to explain the key arguments and concepts

relevant to the two theories. Consider how the behaviour of students, TAs, or the instructor,

relate to various “technological elements” of the course, such as Learn, recorded video lectures,

live Webex meetings, assignments, etc. Which of the two theories best explains the relationship

between technology and social/organizational arrangements in MSCI 311? Support your answer.

2) Use Ashby’s Law to analyze and compare how Functional versus Divisional organization

structures achieve requisite variety. In your answer you should:

a) Identify specific forms of disturbance variety, response variety, and output variety

associated with these two structures.

b) Evaluate the extent to which each structure achieves requisite variety.

c) Discuss the pros and cons of the two structures with respect to their handling of different

sources of disturbance variety.

Explain key concepts and support your answer with examples.

3) Many of the theories or ideas discussed in MSCI 311 are open to debate. Choose one of the

theories from the following list, which you believe is flawed, incorrect, or limited in how it

represents or explains organizational phenomena:

- The idea of bureaucracy as a self-fulfilling prophecy

- The idea that the uncertainty of an organization’s environment is due to complexity,

stability and munificence.

- Institutional theory

- Shannon’s information theory

- Ashby’s law of requisite variety

- Thompson’s classification of technology based on task interdependence

First explain the main arguments of the theory with the help of an example. Then present a

reasoned and well-supported argument against the validity of the theory. In your argument,

identify logical or conceptual weaknesses with the theory. You may also wish to present concrete

examples or other empirical evidence that contradict the theory.

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