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HTM 653—Leading in Complex Human Systems

An in-depth study of the people part of leading successful organizations – leadership and human nature and the dynamics of complex adaptive systems.

This course demonstrates how increased complexity in the external environment is creating unparalleled challenges for hospitality leaders. The concept of complexity is introduced before a critical overview of foundation leadership theory is provided. Contemporary leadership theories are discussed which provide direction for executives seeking to thrive in the complex business environment. Three primary areas of leadership are discussed including, stakeholder needs (Relationships), organizational culture (Context), and influence tactics (Self). Students will apply their learning by planning an organizational change project to be completed in a future class using the EDGE framework.

Course Learning Objectives

  1. Define, distinguish and critically assess major leadership schools of thought from a historical perspective.
  2. Critically analyze contemporary leadership theories to craft a personal definition of leadership in context.
  3. Define a system and its key elements within the hospitality and tourism context.
  4. Apply knowledge of systems thinking by examining and visually communicating the student’s organization as a system.
  5. Identify and distinguish among various stakeholders, including self, within the student’s professional environment.
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of organizational culture through an audit process (HTM Culture Audit).
  7. Synthesize leadership complexity theory, the operating environment, stakeholders and culture to influence real change.
  8. Use the EDGE framework to design an organizational change project.


(4 units)