Review: Dennis Moberg, Management, Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business

At a glance

  • Workload:  Heavy
  • Teaching Style:  Very interactive
  • Interest in students:Very high
  • Relevance to outside world: Very high

Overall Professor Rating:4.75

Overall Course Rating:5

If there is one elective to be taken during one’s time at the Leavey School of Business, it is Management 516, with Professor Dennis Moberg.  The course is on Organizational Politics and is not only about that, but is based on years of research, both practical and academic, that make it a truly powerful addition to one’s arsenal of skills and understanding.  I’ve taken other courses on leadership and management that all involve politics in one way or another.  Nothing like this.

The Review

This is the latest of my reviews on the professors I’ve had while an MBA student at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business. There are lots of sites out there that provide feedback and rates – ratemyprofessor is the most notable. The SantaClaraMBA Yahoo group also has a big database of comments and lots of additional information in its message archive. That database can be a bit hard to wade through, and the comments are short and often just link to other threads, which are themselves pretty short and superficial. Only here can I write as much as I want  🙂

I review professors from a variety of perspectives.  First, I explain the context(s) under which I took the class.  Time of year, time of day, etc.  Then I talk about the quality of the class and the professor, and finally about the professor as a person.  After all, we are trying to learn about our interactions with people, so knowing that side of a teacher is critical, too.  So these would be interactions outside the classroom, etc.  I also just write whatever it is that I think is relevant or will be helpful to others.  That is my overall goal.

This is the second review I’ve done of a course I’ve just completed.  So at least its fresh :-).

The facts

I took 516 during the summer of 2008, when the quarter is very short and the classes are quite long.  There are two interesting things about 516, though, and how Moberg has designed the class.  First, while he generally only teaches it during the summer, someone who apparently took it during the regular year indicated that he actually modified the syllabus for the shortened term.  That is saying a lot.  And while I had trouble staying awake in my earlier class each night, I was wide awake, engaged, and energized for this one.  So the issues that usually plague summer term courses did not have an impact.

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 7:45 to 9:45, with a break in the middle.

Them’s the facts. Now read on for the review.

The class

Moberg’s class is quasi-case based.  These are possibly the shortest cases, for the most part, I have ever read.  I’m talking 1 paragraph here.  But still, we delve very deeply into each of the cases, examining what someone did wrong, what they should have done, and what did happen, could happen, and perhaps should happen.  In this discussion, we go through not only a series of articles and readings that are academic and research-based, but Moberg also gives us room to present our own practical knowledge in the process.  I think this is rather key.  This isn’t just an academic’s course.  It’s also very practical.

Moberg uses a few personality tests/questionnaires, too, which I also liked and found useful.  Most importantly, I distinctly remember one where we measured whether people liked to get ‘high.’  No, this does not mean any kind of drug-induced state.  Rather, it’s about wanting a job that provides personal fulfillment.  A few people scoffed at this, especially those that have a specific and identified desire to achieve and make things.  But Moberg defended this, gave evidence from the research, and talked about examples that made sense.  This was classic for the class.

Moberg also creates a great atmosphere for discussion.  We were in a truly horrible room – the seats all faced foward, and were bolted – yes, bolted – to the floor in that orientation.  So one never knew what someone else was going to say or even if someone else had raised his or her hand.  But by the second class, just two days after we first convened, Moberg had memorized all of our faces and names off of little index cards and would call on us to facilitate conversation.  The only thing I’ve seen remotely like this is in the law classes which I’ve observed as part of my job, and even then the faculty are working off of printed seating charts that sit in front of them (but are also dealing with 80 or so students as compared to 40 – it’s impressive either way).

One thing about the class that is good and bad is that the discussion truly is drawn upon all course materials for that session – the case, the e-journal readings, the book readings, and our practical knowledge.  Of the four, obviously we have only the last one readily available without prior preparation.  And that was a lot of reading.  I have indicated that the workload is heavy because, by the end of the class, I realized I needed to do all of the reading and if I had done so each week, before each class (or even over the weekends) I would have been swamped.  I enjoyed the reading, but it just takes time.

It’s a great class.

As far as mechanics, there is a group paper on a movie, examining the political issues occurring in that movie (we did 12 Angry Men) and then a final paper for which you must draw upon the e-journal readings, the textbook, courses, and cases, with full citations.  The paper can be a killer if you don’t really research.

The Person

I’m not going to say much here, except about how Moberg sets up the atmosphere in the room.  Says hello, sits down on a desk, and just asks ‘okay, so what’s this topic about this week’  Talk to me.  Well, not exactly, but that’s how informal, relaxed, and comfortable it felt.  And then the conversation went into full gear and we went everywhere with it.  It was impressive.

Some Metrics

Metrics are of questionable use, depending on professor and what classes I have and haven’t taken.  But they might be of interest so I’ll do what I can.  These are more like ‘comparisons’ than metrics but I like the word better :-).  Some rough parameters are:

  • Workload:  runs from heavy, which would be work in class, after class, individual and team, to just a lot of problem sets to basically just in-class discussion.
  • Teaching style:  spectrum runs from pure-lecture to interactive to all-over-the place.
  • Interest in students:  pretty obvious
  • Relevance to the outside world:  pretty obvious, though heavily restricted due to my background in academia

Workload: Heavy
If you intend to actually keep up with the reading, and you should try, then it’s a lot of reading.  A lot.

Teaching Style:  Interactive.
I don’t know how it could be more interactive (other than a kinesthetic style where we were literally moving around the room).  We spent most of the class talking to each other and throwing ideas around.

Interest in students:  High.
He does want us to do well.

Relevance to outside world:  Extremely high.
Every day, there is something you learn which you can apply to your professional life the next day.  Every class is that way.

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  1. Pingback: blog of kaiyen » allan’s top 5 MBA courses @ LSB

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