Review Comment

[BUSI W3703] Leadership In Organizations

February 19, 2015

Wallen, Aaron
[BUSI W3703] Leadership In Organizations

In short, this is a bad class.

For more specific information about the class, you can look at the directory, the course site, request a syllabus, and so forth. The class itself was a bore, and everyone in the class knew it. It was worthwhile in the sense that it covered material that is tangentially relevant to leadership however not necessarily applicable to organizations. Think of it as a cursory psych class, if you will.

Unfortunately, there are too many downsides to this course. If you're looking for a good intro course to MBA material, I hope to high hell this isn't it. Wallen is passive aggressive, in that he appears to always understand contingencies and make allowances (as will inevitable come up for many people, since the class is run differently from a typical undergrad structure; for example, there may be zero tolerance for any absence. Not my experience, but a warning.), but always will leave you feeling like he's jotting it down with his other hand. Maybe this is typical MBA, maybe this is Wallen.

The course evaluation revolves around group papers, some quantum of participation, a final paper you're allegedly working towards all semester long, and the final. As far as group papers, it's really the luck of the draw as far as collective ability is concerned. Worse, it's quite the luck of the draw what your final grade might be. Wallen clearly has trouble recruiting TAs to his silly class, and the TAs scandalously neglected replying to emails, requests for office hours, and so forth. So much so, in fact, that Wallen personally involved himself in turning the TA ship around mid-semester (to little effect).

As far as participation, the class content is so superficial that you would get more from the material by reading through all the relevant Harvard Business Review articles online; to that end, participation usually involved the 3-6 people who did not shy away from discussing "correspondence bias" for 5 minutes while the rest of the class waited for Wallen's concurring.

As far as the final paper, oh boy, you're in for a ride. He gives you extremely specific instructions, a formula most certainly, for how to synthesize it. On the face of it, it sounds interesting and worthwhile. The manner in which he grades the papers is, ironically, degrading. He leaves a disclaimer on his feedback that the grade and his response is his 'professional' judgement of your ability to follow the instructions for writing the paper. Please note, this paper is supposed to be your "Personal Development Plan [for life and other endeavors]." Essentially, what this means is that there is absolutely no latitude for expressing yourself. Is that enough to describe the quandary? It seems quite futile to develop a personal development plan, only to have it austerely evaluated by an arbitrary rubric. So it became kind of like a 9th grade essay from high school. Bottom line is, if you have the tolerance to be blatantly fake (in a "oh so honest" manner, obviously), go for it; otherwise, your personal development plan may be subject to harsh criticism. This leads to the greater issue with the class, that due to its superficiality, you have to make a pained effort to bother with it, rather than delve into it.

Finally, the way that he ensures a complete grade distribution for the class (the resulting satisfaction of which he didn't fail to mention in the followup email to the final) is to ask arbitrary questions about readings from any corner of the syllabus. i think this is what one might call "professorial guerilla tactics," and it is painful and very difficult to contend with. It also is a very poor approach to evaluating the material one might've learned over the course of the entire semester. Questions that appeared were even as unapologetic as, "Author X discussed the concept of Y. Specifically in his discussion of Z, what were the 3 points?" If you're the kind of student who memorizes all the details for a psych exam, this course is for you. If you're actually interested in leadership... well, you'd probably not be spending your time trying to memorize different lists from the literature.

Overall, sure, this is just another 'easy' course offered by the B school to undergrads. people will continue to fight for a spot. But ask yourself, is this really worth your while?


mandatory attendance to 3-hour weekly sessions
4 team papers based on readings and class exercises
Final paper
Final exam

January 23, 2014

Wallen, Aaron
[BUSI W3703] Leadership In Organizations

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

The material itself is interesting and easy to absorb, and in many ways it seems applicable to any career path. The course goes over internal biases we have and how that affects behavior in organizational settings as well as "what makes a good leader". Not 100% bullshit despite the title of the course. I would say a significant amount of it is psych-related so if you have some psych background it might help.

The professor is a good lecturer but is very strict...He is a rather harsh, nitpicky grader and will ruthlessly take points off quizzes and exams if you do not have the right wording. I would say all you need to do well on exams is to have great memorization skills, because he will specifically ask you what the main arguments and examples used by the authors in readings. There's not that much critical thinking involved on the exams. For the midterm, the average was in the low 80s and he refused to curve because he was "content of the distribution of grades", although he added like 5 overall points at the end of the semester.

He also takes attendance every class and requires you to complete mandatory surveys on Courseworks 4-5 times throughout the course, and if you forget to do them he take a point off for each survey you missed from your overall grade.

I highly recommend making very detailed summaries on the readings after each session so you're not as overwhelmed right before a quiz or exam. Can't really skim for a lot of these readings.

TLDR: interesting material, harsh grading, best for seniors if you take it p/f


Manageable but be sure to know your shit on the readings and lectures if you don't want to be screwed on the quizzes/midterm.

December 15, 2008

Beunza, Daniel
[BUSI W3703] Leadership In Organizations

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

First off, I think that I should say I am a senior who has rarely written a review, so the mere fact I am writing this underscores my thoughts to Beunza. I'm an economics major and expected this class to actually help me- it didn't, at all. The class itself was a joke and a complete WASTE OF TIME! Lecture was spent talking about a case in painstaking detail and lookign back, going to class was not needed at all for the final. There is no midterm, and assignment aren't even graded. I did not receive any physical letter grades and the marks that I did receive were so unclear that I have no idea what I will receive in the class.

Take this class if you want easy credits, but be prepared to be extrememly bored and talked down to by a control freak of a professor. There was even one lecture when he called out a student for "not paying attention" and proceeded to yell at him in front of the entire section of over 50 students. This professor is as unprofessional as they come and it is a shame that Columbia employs people like him. I want a refund.


Light at most. Cases are supposed to be read prior to class, but outside of a 2 page paper, there is nothing.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
COLL / BUSI COLL BUSI W3703: Leadership in Organization: Leadershiip in Organization 2012 Fall / 1
COLL / BUSI COLL BUSI W3703: Leadership in Organization: Leadershiip in Organization Dana Carney 2010 Fall M / 4:10- 7:00 PM 1
COLL / BUSI COLL BUSI W3703: Leadership in Organization: Leadershiip in Organization Malia Mason 2010 Spring T / 4:00- 7:00 PM 1
COLL / BUSI COLL BUSI W3703: Leadership in Organization: Leadershiip in Organization Daniel Beunza, Malia Mason 2008 Fall M / 4:00- 7:00 PM 1