GRA 2270 Work Design in the Digital Age

GRA 2270 Work Design in the Digital Age

Course code: 
GRA 2270
Leadership and Organizational Behaviour
Course coordinator: 
Elizabeth Solberg
Lina Daouk-Öyry
Course name in Norwegian: 
Work Design in the Digital Age
Product category: 
MSc in Leadership and Organisational Psychology
2024 Spring
Active status: 
Level of study: 
Teaching language: 
Course type: 
One semester

Whether it is driven by market demands, product innovations, or other disruptions, technological change is a constant in our working lives. New digital technologies are adopted to promote greater organizational efficiency and to create new value-propositions for consumers who demand digital solutions. Artificial intelligence is posed to disrupt, augment, and improve many existing work processes. And events such as the covid-19 pandemic can majorly disrupt the way that businesses operate using technology. These and other changes require organizations to change the way work is designed, sometimes very quickly.

Work design concerns the content, structure, and organization of work tasks, activities, and relationships and the effect they have on individual and group outcomes. Good work design requires seeing the technological and human components of the organization as interdependent and knowing that success requires ensuring that human needs are addressed when technology is introduced or changed. When this is achieved, work design contributes positively to a range of important work outcomes, including increased performance, safety, motivation, and well-being. Poorly designed work, however, can lead to lower productivity and higher rates of absenteeism, workers compensation, and turnover. Designing work where humans work synergistically with technology to promote positive outcomes, and being quick to adjust work design when needed, is critical to the competitive advantage of organizations. Thus, work design is a core skill that organizational psychology specialists should possess to contribute to organizational success and viability both now and in the future of work.

In this course, students will learn theoretical and practical knowledge necessary for designing work that contributes to positive individual and group outcomes in the digital age. They will be exposed to different approaches to work design and how work design interacts with people’s abilities and needs to influence important work outcomes. They will gain insight into the implications new technologies have for work, and how to design work that leverages new technologies in a “human-centered” way.

Learning outcomes - Knowledge

By the end of the course the candidate:

  • Should be able to describe and critically assess different approaches to work design and their main objectives and principles
  • Should understand the interplay between personal- and work factors in relating to work outcomes
  • Should understand how technology impacts the way people work in positive and negative ways
  • Should understand how to design work that leverages technology in a way that positively contributes to the performance and well-being of employees
Learning outcomes - Skills

By the end of the course the candidate should:

  • Be able to apply knowledge gained in the course to identify different work design approaches used in organizations
  • Be able to apply knowledge gained in the course to assess work design characteristics and identify ways to improve it
  • Be able to apply knowledge gained in the course to identify how work design can maximize the benefits and overcome the challenges created by new technology
General Competence

By the end of the course the candidate:

  • Should be able to demonstrate a broad understanding of how and why different work design approaches are used and for what purpose
  • Should be able to advocate for work design approaches that bring out the best in people and contribute to positive work experiences
  • Should be able to critically evaluate the work design approaches used in organizations and their fit with people and workplace technology
Course content

Topics covered in the course include:

  • Work design as the optimization of psychosocial and technical systems
  • Person-job fit
  • Different approaches to work design, including mechanistic approaches (e.g., scientific management, Taylorism), perceptual/motor approaches (e.g., ergonomics, human factors), and motivational approaches (e.g., work enrichment, empowerment)
  • Work design in digital work contexts (e.g., remote work, hybrid work)
  • Different frameworks for work design development and analysis
Teaching and learning activities

The in-class component of the course is structured as a combination of lectures, presentations, case discussions, and other learning activities. While the course covers a variety of theoretical foundations, it is also an applied course that relies on critical discussions about how work should be designed today and in the future. Students are expected to prepare ahead of class by reading articles, reviewing case studies, and preparing topic presentations, and to be actively involved during in-class sessions.

Each student taking the course will be required to prepare a short video presentation of an assigned topic from the syllabus. This topic presentation will first be made in-class, to facilitate discussion on the topic. Feedback received from the in-class presentation can be used to improve the presentation for final submission at the end of the course.

Throughout the term, students working in groups of 2-3 will use material from the course to identify, analyze, and develop an actionable plan for resolving a work design problem that a case organization is facing. This project will be handed in at the end of the term.

Software tools
No specified computer-based tools are required.
Additional information

Please note that while attendance is not compulsory in all courses, it is the student’s own responsibility to obtain any information provided in class.

All parts of the assessment must be passed in order to get a grade in the course.


All courses in the Masters programme will assume that students have fulfilled the admission requirements for the programme. In addition, courses in second, third and/or fourth semester can have specific prerequisites and will assume that students have followed normal study progression. For double degree and exchange students, please note that equivalent courses are accepted.


Deviations in teaching and exams may occur if external conditions or unforeseen events call for this.

Exam category: 
Form of assessment: 
Multimedia production
1 Semester(s)
Topic video presentation
Exam code: 
GRA 22701
Grading scale: 
Examination when next scheduled course
Exam category: 
Form of assessment: 
Written submission
Group (2 - 3)
1 Semester(s)
Case-based term paper
Exam code: 
GRA 22702
Grading scale: 
Examination when next scheduled course
Type of Assessment: 
Ordinary examination
All exams must be passed to get a grade in this course.
Total weight: 
Student workload
36 Hour(s)
Prepare for teaching
36 Hour(s)
108 Hour(s)
Sum workload: 

A course of 1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. Therefore a course of 6 ECTS credits corresponds to a workload of at least 160 hours.