Contemporary Perspectives on OB: Leading Change


Course Objective

Leadership is a fundamental aspect of human organization, specifically
during organizational change. Leadership occurs quickly and
automatically across all cultures and levels of complexity.
Unfortunately, even though leadership is widely studied, much of our
understanding remains disjointed. In this course we connect the
phenomenon of leadership to the context of planned organizational
change. The purpose of this course is 1) to help you generate a clearer
understanding of the leadership process and how it connects with
mobilizing people to change, 2) develop your own leadership skills (once
we know what we need to develop), and 3) provide a roadmap for your
future as an effective transformational leader.
Learning Outcomes.
• Academic and research skills: students will be able to systematically
analyze a practical change-related problem and come up with a plan of
action, and develop the sensitivity necessary to use the right arguments
for different audiences.
• Bridging theory and practice - Knowledge: Student will be familiar
with the generative processes that gives rise to leadership, planned
organizational change, and the connection between these two.
• Bridging theory and practice - application: students will be familiar
with the practical problems which business leaders and change
consultants face when managing organizational change.
• Social skills: the ability to work in a new team, the responsivity to
‘read’ the social environment and the skills to give a presentation in a
simulated business environment, where different stakeholders hold
different values and beliefs and have different interests.
• Self-awareness: students will become more aware about one’s tendencies
as a leader and follower in different organizational change situations.

Course Content

Contemporary perspectives on OB: Leading change 3.4 is an introductory
traveller’s guide for frontrunners (change agents and change crews) in
organizations. Organizational transformations are adventures where
leadership, rather than plans and standard operating procedures, is key
to success. We teach the latest scientific knowledge on change
management as well as the skills that you will need ‘on the ground’ as a
frontrunner (‘leader’) of change namely responsivity and rhetorical
skills. This course’s unique focus on leadership of change will help you
discover your compass and social responsivity to navigate yourself and
others through uncertainty.

The first part of this course focuses on change as a process, that is, a
journey. With the Change Competence e-book (Ten Have et al., 2015) as a
traveler’s guide, you will learn to think about organizational change as
a risky, adventurous journey with an uncertain outcome (for leaders and
followers alike). That said change has a number of recognizable phases
that each offer unique challenges to change leaders. This part involves
an overview of employees’ affective/ attitudinal reactions of change
recipients over time. You will learn about best practices of change
management and the Theory of Planned Behavior as integrative framework.
Last but not least, you will learn about rhetorical practices (framing,
stories, narratives, vision) in change implementations and their
intimate connection with charismatic - transformational leadership. You
will particularly study:
1. change as a perilous journey: phases of change, obstacles, overcoming
2. classics in change management: John Kotter; theory of planned
behavior; behavior change
3. the importance of (organizational) justice during change processes
4. attitudinal reactions to organizational change: different types of
organizational change (e.g., cost-focused vs.
people focused and combinations) and reaction pattern to these changes

The second part of this course is an overview of the various definitions
of leadership, including the many styles of leadership that are relevant
to organizational change (i.e., evolutionary, charismatic,
transformational, ethical leadership). In the process you will learn the
boundaries and generative processes that give rise to leadership and the
different levels of analysis that apply. For instance, you will learn
that the ultimate why of leadership is quite different from the
proximate how of leadership. This process will help us generate a
general definition of leadership that integrates factors you will need
to become an effective transformational leader. For example, you will
learn about the different phases of leadership, how it can mobilize
people, but also how it may finally lead to a state of disenchantment
and disengagement. You will also learn which personal and contextual
factors influence tie into the leadership process. This will help you
maximize the good of charisma and ideology and avoid its dark side to
maintain trust and maximize followership investment. You will also gain
a deeper appreciation for the role leadership has on followership
attitudes and motivation. In this part you will be studying:
5. the introduction to leadership theory: leadership styles and the
generative processes of leadership.
6. the first, precarious phase of transformational leadership; the
(moral) courage of speaking up: Leadership as instigating a social
movement and leadership taking hold: When change becomes a cultural
7. (overcoming) disenchantment in later phases of leadership;
understanding some of the fundamental processes which impact on the
sustainability of change initiatives (e.g., institutionalization,
assimilation, hypocrisy, corruption).

The third and final part of this course is organized around application.
Some leadership qualities are important across situations whereas other
qualities are context-specific. For example, hierarchy and dominance may
not always be a best strategy. In this part we will focus on a number of
important leadership contexts that you will consistently encounter
throughout your career. You will first learn about these dynamics and
then in groups you will practice your ability to lead across different
change contexts. You will evaluate yourself and be evaluated by others
to supply you with comprehensive feedback. The primary goals of this
part are:
8. understanding yourself as a leader,
9. identifying strengths and weaknesses across contexts (e.g., you may
perform better in one situation relative to another),
10. practice improving of your leadership (e.g., rhetorical ability) in
a variety of organizational contexts.

Teaching Methods


Method of Assessment

Written exam – Individual assessment
Assignment(s) – Group assessment


This course is taught article based. See course manual for detailed

Recommended background knowledge

1.5 HRM & OB; 2.5 BRM II - Quantitative
2.1 HRM & OB; 2.4 HRM Practices - A Global Perspective;
2.4 BRM I – Quantitative

General Information

Course Code E_IBK3_CPOB
Credits 6 EC
Period P4
Course Level 300
Language of Tuition English
Faculty School of Business and Economics
Course Coordinator drs. J.L. Millenaar MSc
Examiner drs. J.L. Millenaar MSc
Teaching Staff drs. J.L. Millenaar MSc

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar, Instruction course, Lecture
Target audiences

This course is also available as: