Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

3 hours per week for twelve weeks or equivalent.

Unit rationale, description and aim

The unit traces the evolution of Western thought from major philosophical perspectives, ancient and modem. Various philosophies of management are pursued through practical, ethical and global critical analysis of the contribution of distinguished thinkers: Homer, Plato, Machiavelli, Descartes, Hume, Popper, Schopenhauer, Marx, Nietzsche and Sartre. 

The unit has been designed to convey the view that what is important about any explanatory perspective is not what it explains, but what it assumes. A central aim is, therefore, to encourage students to uncover assumptions, analyse them critically and build personal perspectives in order to ensure organisational sustainability. The following three assumptions, which govern the unit, should be especially noted. 

First, management is essentially a philosophical activity and process because the world is interpreted through different perspectives. Second, there is no authoritative criterion for determining that one perspective is more valid than another. Third, management training needs to be combined with management education. To train is to instruct, drill and subordinate individuals to routines, standards, practices. To educate is to develop the intellectual, moral and aesthetic powers of individuals that is used to achieve the common good. One of the greatest educators of the nineteenth century, Friedrich Nietzsche, believed that "real educators can be nothing more than liberators. And this is the secret of all education". 

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

L01 - Appraise philosophical perspectives by which people have attempted to understand the world, themselves and each other and how this impacts on organisational sustainability (GA4, GA5). 

L02 - Examine the field of management theory, whilst of recent origin, necessarily draws on a wide range of ancient wisdom (GA5, GA8). 

L03 - Analyse and apply diverse philosophical perspectives to the task of problem solving, leading, and motivating teams (GA5, GA6) 

L04 - Differentiate various intellectual contributors to Western Civilisation and how they impacted on individual, organisations, society cultures and values while considering their impact on the common good (GA2, GA5) 

Graduate attributes

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics covered will include: 

  • Foundations of management thoughts from multiple lenses and their impact on organisational sustainability and common good
  • Ancient Heroism: Management by Performance - Homer (c. 750 B.C.) 
  • Greek Rationalism: Management by Argument – Plato (c. 428 -348 8.C.) 
  • Machiavellianism: Management by and for Power – Machiavelli (1469 -1527) 
  • Cartesian Dualism: Managing Mind – Descartes (1596-1650)  
  • British Empiricism: Management by Science – Hume`` (1711-1776)  
  • Critical Rationalism: Management by Trial and Error Elimination – Popper (1902-1994) 
  • German Romanticism: Manager as Artist – Schopenhauer (1788-1860) 
  • Dialectical Materialism: Against Management – Marx (1818-1883) 
  • Heroic Individualism: Management by Will – Nietzsche (1844-1900) 
  • French Existentialism: Management by Commitment – Sartre (1905-1980) 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit aims to engage students as active participants in the learning process while acknowledging that all learning must involve a complex interplay of active and receptive processes, the constructing of meaning for oneself, and learning from others. The unit promotes and facilitates learning that is autonomous and self-motivated, is characterised by the individual taking satisfaction in the mastering of content and skills and is critical, looking beneath the surface level of information for the meaning and significance of what is being studied.  

Mode of delivery: Lectures, seminars and workshops on campus or mixed mode

Pattern of attendance and duration: Intensive mode of delivery. Students should anticipate undertaking 150 hours of study for this unit, including class attendance, readings and assignment preparation.


Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessments are used primarily to foster learning. This unit adopts a constructivist approach to learning which seeks alignment between the fundamental purpose of each unit, the learning outcomes, teaching and learning strategy, assessment and the learning environment. To pass this unit, students are required to submit all pieces of assessment and achieve an overall score of at least 50%. Using constructive alignment, the assessment tasks are designed for students to demonstrate their achievement of each learning outcome.  

Each of these assessment pieces has been designed to empower students, lead to greater equity and deepen students’ skillsets by virtue of their design. They are assessment that are constructed to integrate the unit’s instruction and curriculum.  

The first assessment is a group task. Each group will be allocated a philosopher to study and discuss in class and will provide a written report on the intellectual contribution to Western civilisation by the philosopher. The second assessment is an individual essay which requires the students to critically analyse philosophical perspectives and their application to contemporary management practices. The final assessment is an individual reflective report  which requires  students to critically reflect and appraise diverse philosophical perspectives, their intellectual contributions to Western Civilisation, and how their own values and perspectives about management have been impacted by the philosophical contributions.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Group Presentations

This assessment task consists of a 15 minute group presentation and script. This task requires students to critically analyse a specific philosopher and evaluate their intellectual contribution to Western civilization and identify the current management practices that are related to their intellectual contribution and their impact on organisational sustainability. Students are required to complete Peer Evaluation of other group members contribution to the group work worth 10% of this assessment.

Submission Type: Group

Assessment Method: Presentation / Report

Artefact: Presentation / written report


L01, LO2 

GA4, GA5, GA8 

Assessment Task 2: Individual Report

This assessment task consists of a 1350 word  integrative report. This task requires students to identify 4 current practices from two philosophers  discussed in weeks 2-7 and critically analyse the development of these practices and their applications in today’s workplaces and tracing them back to the philosophers. Students are required to support their analysis with the relevant academic literature and workplace practices.  

Submission Type: Individual

Assessment Method: Integrative written report

Artefact: Report


L02, LO3

GA5, GA6, GA8

Assessment Task 3: Individual Reflective Report

This assessment task consists of a 1500 word reflective integrative report. This task requires students to critically reflect and appraise diverse philosophical perspectives and their intellectual contributions to Western Civilisation. Students are to reflect on how their own values and perspectives about management have been impacted by the philosophical contributions. 

Submission Type: Individual

Assessment Method: Reflective report

Artefact: Report


L03, L04 

GA2, GA5, GA6 

Representative texts and references

Baker, G Wittgenstein’s Method Neglected Aspects Ed Katherine Morris Blackwell Publishing 2006 (update on seminal work)

Burckhardt, J. The Civilisation of the Renaissance in Ital y, Penguin, 2010

Cooper, D.E. World Philosophies: An Historical Introduction, Blackwell, 2002 (seminal)

Kraut, R. The Cambridge Companion to Plato’s Republic, Cambridge, 2008 (latest)

Spillane, R. An Eye for an I: Philosophies of Personal Power, Sydney: GOKO Publishing, 2015 

Spillane, R.  The Philosophical Foundations of Management Thought, Maryland US: Lexington Books, 2018.

Sprigge, TLS Theories of   Existence, Wipf and Stock 2007 


Home | Descartes 2020 2016

Homer 2018


Marxist thought – Past and Present

Nietzche’s Thought

2019 Plato: The Republic - Book 4 Summary and Analysis - Bing videoPlato's "Republic," books I & II - Bing video 2020Plato - The Republic | Political Philosophy - Bing video 2019

Sartre: Being and Nothingness

Sartre Existential choice:

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