MAN 5126 Organising for the Unexpected

MAN 5126 Organising for the Unexpected

Course code: 
MAN 5126
Leadership and Organizational Behaviour
Course coordinator: 
Thorvald Hærem
Course name in Norwegian: 
Organisering for det uventede
Product category: 
EMM - Security management and Cultural understanding, Specialisation
2023 Autumn
Active status: 
Level of study: 
Teaching language: 
Course type: 
One semester

This is a Master of Management course (15 ECTS), addressing Organising for the Unexpected, originally designed for the Norwegian Armed Forces and other organizations working with security issues. It constitutes a part of 5 in a 90 ESCTS Executive Master of Management program specializing in Security and Cultural Understanding.

All organizations deal to a larger or smaller extent with exceptions and unexpected events. Certain departments, organizations and even industries are in general dealing with tasks which best can be characterized as a series of unexpected events. Usually many aspects of the task resolution process unfold as expected - but those unique and surprising elements that throw the organization out of its routine create the challenges that must be managed. Organizing for the unexpected requires different arrangements than organizing for the expected. Organizations such as the defense, police force, emergency health care units, fire departments, and rescue operations in general, are just a few examples of organizations that operate on the extreme end of the expected - unexpected continuum.

Experiences from the 22nd of July, 2011 and the In Amenas incident are discussed as examples to clarify what organizing for the unexpected means. We follow the "macro to micro" logic from the first course. In this course, we are concerned with the organizing of operations under uncertainty. We will focus on the sharp end of the organization and discuss what organizational theory has to say about organizing for the unexpected. 

Learning outcomes - Knowledge
  • The students shall develop knowledge on concepts such as vigilant organisations and security organisation
  • The students shall develop the ability to examine and discuss how to develop a vigilant organisation
  • The students shall develop knowledge about possible opportunities and constraints of various organisational structures
  • The students shall understand the interaction between organisational culture, communication processes, procedures and cognitive sources of error
Learning outcomes - Skills
  • The students shall be able to analyse correlations between the qualities of organisations and the decision-making of individuals.
  • The students shall be able to apply new knowledge to improve coordination, communication and decision-making under insecurity and ambivalence.
General Competence
  • After having completed the programme, the students shall be able to make independent decisions and contribute to major decision-making processes that have a strong focus on security issues
  • The students shall be able to take ethical responsibility and to supervise other people in an independent and reflective way.
  • The students shall be aware of their opportunities and constraints as regards knowledge about their surroundings and the alternative courses of action at their disposal.
  • Students shall, on an independent basis, be able to participate in international and cross-cultural negotiations in an ethical way.
Course content

1st gathering: Classical and modern organization theories. We discuss fundamental issues of coordination and challenges in the handling of unexpected situations.

2nd gathering: Coordination and team decisions with subsequent feedback on decision making at the team- and individual level.

3rd gathering: Decision Theory; How to learn from experience and exercises. Training and feedback in uncertain and learning hostile environments.

Teaching and learning activities

9 teaching days in three 3-day modules , totalling 75 hours.

The students must expect to use at least 400 study hours, which is the norm for 15 ECTS. , You should have one reading day per week and some extra time for working on the term paper.

Attendance is very important  in module 2 in order to participate in the simulation game, which is an important point of reference in the course.

The students are responsible for obtaining information given in the lectures which is not posted on the programme website/itslearning or in other course material.


In all BI Executive courses and programs, there is a mutual requirement for the student and the course responsible regarding the involvement of the student's experience in the planning and implementation of courses, modules and programmes. This means that the student has the right and duty to get involved with their own knowledge and practice relevance, through the active sharing of their relevant experience and knowledge.

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

Detailed introduction
The course will examine the effects of the theory on vigilant organisations on organisations operating under insecurity, and the characteristics of organisations that have developed a “vigilant culture”. The course will discuss how this culture interacts with the role of individuals in the organisation and in the group. The dissemination of information in ambivalent surroundings will be studied. Communication challenges between various units and branches of the military services will also be covered, also the extent to which individual and organisational aspects affect communication and decision-making. One important problem to be addressed for all individual topics is how the organisation can build capacity in order to visualise and handle unexpected incidents. 

At the micro level, the course will discuss the individual’s role and typical errors, cognitive biases or pitfalls that decision-makers often encounter. The course will discuss the mechanisms behind these errors and enable the students to see connections between such individual fallacies and the organisational culture. 


Bachelor degree, corresponding to 180 credits from an accredited university, university college or similar educational institution. The applicant must be at least 25 years of age. At least four years of work experience. For applicants who have already completed a master’s degree, three years of work experience are required. (two years of work experience are required for applicants employed at The Norwegian Armed Forces)

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

Exam category: 
Form of assessment: 
Written submission
Group/Individual (1 - 3)
1 Semester(s)
Exam code: 
MAN 51261
Grading scale: 
Examination when next scheduled course
Exam category: 
Form of assessment: 
Written submission
72 Hour(s)
Exam code: 
MAN 51262
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
75 Hour(s)
24 Hour(s)
75 Hour(s)
Prepare for teaching
75 Hour(s)
Student's own work with learning resources
151 Hour(s)
Sum workload: 

A course of 1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. Therefore a course of 15 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of at least 400 hours.