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MANG1018 Technologies that Shaped the Business World 1: Mechanical Age

Module Overview

This module helps students to appreciate the central importance of technology in the development of business organisations, industrial sectors, and national economies more generally. The module will locate technology and innovation as the main driver of economic growth and explore these from the period of global expansion of trade and industrialisation. The module will provide students with an appreciation of major international trends and breakthroughs in technological innovation and production. Students will explore the business archival record to understand the ideas and personalities behind the major technological breakthrough. The emergence of new economic actors, including merchants, entrepreneurs, engineers and managers will also be examined in relation to the development of new industrial sectors and large-scale business operations. The module will ask a series of fundamental questions, such as: what kinds of problems with management control were identified as organisations increased in scale? How did organisations monitor and plan technical activity? What effect did a given technology have on the development of specific sectors and national economies? How did the government and business leaders manage externalities, such as the diseases associated with urban overcrowding and pollution? By the end of the module students will have an understanding of how technology, economy, society, and the natural world are interrelated, and how a mix of government and private organisations, profit and not-for-profit enterprises shape economic growth. Students will also benefit from talks from industry and business guests.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To provide you with an understanding of the general technological dimensions shaping business and management as a field of inquiry.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the major events in the history of technology between the industrialisation era and today's business;
  • the intimate relationship between scientific knowledge, technological application and business productivity;
  • the salience of understanding the influence of technology on the structure and dynamics of the business world.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • reflect on the impact of the historical development of technology on today’s business environment;
  • identify the role of management in shaping technological change
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • use a wide range of intellectual ideas and analytical thinking to enrich your arguments;
  • write well-crafted essays and present them in a well-structured manner;
  • conduct independent historical and bibliographical research using a range of information sources.


The module will begin by examining claims that there is ‘New Economy’ or a ‘Knowledge Economy’ in the 21st Century that is somehow different to the past. To do this we need to define what is meant by the Industrial Revolution and why Britain was first to industrialise, compared with China, France and Holland. This will be followed by examining issues relating to industrialisation and the development of technology and associated institutional background. The module will cover: - Changing organisational forms and the creation of business ‘systems’ - The routinisation of Research and Development - Understanding National Innovation Systems - Product design and manufacturing - The ‘S’ curve and economics of transition between technologies - The nature of technological novelty and significance - Productivity and technological change - The characteristics of knowledge - Technological innovation & competitive strategy - Managing the globalisation of research & technology - The organisation of innovation and the production of knowledge Students will have access to a range key conceptual approaches for understanding the industrial and modern knowledge economy. And also, to a sample of case studies of major technological advancements and innovations, exemplifying the key perspectives.

Special Features

External speakers will deliver guest lecture slots, where possible.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • Lectures • Interactive case studies • Problem-solving activities • Directed reading • Private/guided study Learning activities include: • Introductory lectures • An assignment (individual written coursework to deepen learning in a specific topic of the module chosen by you) • Case study/problem solving activities • In class debate and discussion • Private study • Use of video and online materials

Completion of assessment task50
Preparation for scheduled sessions20
Wider reading or practice26
Follow-up work20
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Gregory Clark (2007). A Farewell to Alms: a brief economic history of the world (Introduction). 

James Utterback (1996). Mastering the Dynamics of Innovation. 

Roert Hayes et al (1988). Dynamic Manufacturing: Creating the Learning Organisation. 

Eric Beinhocker (2005). The Origin of Wealth, Education, Complexity and the Radical Remaking of Economics (Chapters 1 and 2). 

Vaclav Smil (2005). Creating the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations of 1867-1914 and Their Lasting Impact. 

Barrie Trinder (2013). Britain's Industrial Revolution: The Making of a Manufacturing People, 1700-1870. 

Robert Allen (2011). Global Economic History: A very short introduction (Chapter 1). 

Vaclav Simil (2006). Transforming the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations and Their Consequences. 

Leo Marx (2010). Technology: The emergence of a hazardous concept. Technology and Culture. ,51 .

Brian Arthur (2009). The Nature of Technology: what it is and how it evolves (Chapter 6). 





MethodPercentage contribution
Report  (2500 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Report  (2500 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Report  (2500 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Field Trips

Students may have to cover reasonable costs incurred as part of the field trip, but these will be minimal.


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the core/recommended text as appropriate.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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