This module helps students build an intellectual foundation to business as a field of inquiry. The module presents a ‘big history’ of ideas to expose students to the major schools of thought in philosophy, politics and early thinkers of social science (economics, sociology, psychology, anthropology). By exploring the social movements and counter-movements that have shaped the course of human intellectual history, students will locate the emergence of business and management not only in its economic context, but within a wider arena of social and political transformation. Students will be exposed to competing perspectives on some of the most fundamental problems facing thinking individuals throughout the centuries, and will be strongly encouraged to develop reflective awareness of the ways through which seemingly distant ideas shape the economic organisation of contemporary societies. To this end, moreover, students will have the opportunity to identify and question the soundness of taken-for-granted assumptions underpinning the formations of the worlds we inhabit.
By the end of the module students will have a powerful set of thinking tools by which to interpret events of the past, the present, and visions of the future. The module has two principal aims: first, to impress upon students the importance of the ‘big ideas’ that have impacted most strongly on the development of advanced human societies; and second, to motivate students to reflect on the relevance of these big ideas for their own lives, and for the wider challenges of the contemporary business world. The overarching aim of the module is to establish business management as an intellectually stimulating and liberal subject which affords students with a powerful and enlightening understanding of a contingently emerging world - a world that we are nonetheless often tempted to take as natural and somehow inevitable.
‘Part 2 – Markets and Consumers’ builds on part 1 by introducing some of the conceptual terrain that emerged during the early 20th century under the heading of ‘social science’. Fundamental questions about individuals, groups and societies were divided up and fragmented into a series of specialist disciplines including sociology, psychology, economics, anthropology and geography. Each of these disciplines managed to establish a place within the large universities of Europe and USA, developed their own bodies of specialist literature and professional academics, and continued to grow by attracting increasing numbers of students. Questions about material prosperity become appropriated by economists whereas questions about individuals become the domain of psychology. Business and management can be understood as emerging from this 20th century tradition by making use of, for examples, the theory of markets from economics, class from sociology and individual personality from social psychology. The module will provide a tour of some of the major concepts from this period that continue the tradition of asking deep questions about the nature of the social world.
Aims and Objectives
Transferable and Generic Skills
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:
- reflect on ideas deeply and richly in a way that opens up the space for the exploration of meaning in business contexts;
- appreciate ideas from different perspectives and use multiple framing to deepen your understanding of complex phenomena;
- use a wide range of intellectual ideas and analytical thinking to enrich your arguments;
- develop skills of practical reasoning in the face of complex and indeterminate social phenomena.
Knowledge and Understanding
Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:
- the salience of using alternative intellectual lenses to evaluate business challenges - past, present, future.
- the vast intellectual terrain and history of ideas that have shaped the contemporary business world;
- the immense complexity entailed in the subject matter of business management;
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:
- identify different schools of thought that have shaped our economic, political and social understanding of who we are;
- evaluate the appropriateness of different thinking tools for tackling diverse problems.
- recognise the intellectual foundations of business enterprise, business organisations and practices;
- describe the major events in human intellectual history that have shaped economic activity;
The module syllabus is organised around key events in contemporary history:
a.Late industrialisation (1850 - 1930 CE)
b.Socialist revolution (1900 – 1950 CE)
c.World wars (1890 – 1950 CE)
d.Post-war reconstruction (1950 – 1970 CE)
e.Cultural revolution (1970 – 1980 CE)
f.Economic Neo-liberalism (1970 – 1990 CE)
g.Crisis of capitalism? (2000 CE -)
Central intellectual themes:
a.Specialisation and division of labour
b.The role of government in shaping economic stability, welfare state, business regulation, R&D investment.
c.Markets as a mechanism for distributing resources (invisible hand)
d.Market formations (e.g. monopoly)
e.Economic class as a way of understanding working life and social identity
f.Measuring the self at work:
g.Administration and management (visible hand)
Perspectives on late capitalism:
a.Schumpeter on innovation
b.The contribution of critical theory
c.Understanding the post-industrial world
d.From the question of capitalism to questions of desirable forms of capitalism, ethics and CSR
e.Is there an alternative?
f.Shared value and green capitalism
g.Eternal tensions and debates over capitalist forms of organization
Key case studies:
- Happiness studies – study of lottery winners
- Utility – measuring preferences
- The history of business school and the rise of students as consumers
- Social and economic inequality – the 99 %
Learning and Teaching
Teaching and learning methods
Teaching methods include:
- Interactive case studies
- Problem-solving activities
- Directed reading
- Private/guided study
Learning activities include:
- Introductory lectures
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 task||36|
|Preparation for scheduled sessions||20|
|Wider reading or practice||40|
|Total study time||150|
Resources & Reading list
Organization Studies. Journal
Journal of Management Studies. Journal
Academy of Management Journal. Journal
Academy of Management Review. Journal
Philosophy of Management. Journal
Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.
Business History. Journal
Gagliardi, P. and Czarniawaski, B. Management Education and Humanities.
JS Mill. On Liberty.
Chandler. The Visible Hand.
Griseri, P (2013). An Introduction to the Philosophy of Management. Sage.
Aldrich, H. (1999). Organizations Evolving.
Taylor, FW. Principles of Scientific Management.
Williams. The History of UK Business and Management Education.
Bastow, S., Dunleavy, P., Tinkler, J. (2014). The Impact of the Social Sciences: How Academics and Their Research Make a Difference. Sage.
Bell. Coming of the Post-Industrial Society.
Smith, M (1998). Social Science in Question. Sage.
Huxley. Brave New World.
Perrow, C (1986). Complex Organizations: A Critical Essay. McGraw-Hill.
Okasha, S. (2002). Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press.
This is how we’ll give you feedback as you are learning. It is not a formal test or exam.In-class activities
This is how we’ll formally assess what you have learned in this module.
This is how we’ll assess you if you don’t meet the criteria to pass this module.
An internal repeat is where you take all of your modules again, including any you passed. An external repeat is where you only re-take the modules you failed.
Repeat type: Internal & External