Once dominated by the neoclassical approach, the current literature on business management is characterised by diversity and variety. Evolutionary economics, resource-based approaches, institutional economics, and entrepreneurial theories have challenged the key assumptions of mainstream neoclassical studies to provide richer and more challenging ways to look at the way different models of business emerge and how they operate
The aim of the course is to look at these approaches in a comparative and applied perspective, in particular how various theoretical views have been used to make sense of the existence and functioning of different models of business.
The purpose of this module therefore is three-fold. First, it aims to introduce the student to some of the leading approaches to business management. It does so by using the neoclassical theory as a starting point, to move to other views such as the “old” institutional theory of Galbraith, the “new” institutional theory” of Coase, North, and Williamson, the theories of entrepreneurship developed by Schumpeter and Baumol, evolutionary economics, and economic sociology. The second aim of the course is to compare the features of various theories and the third one is to analyse how they can be applied to look at practical managerial issues. In particular the course will focus on how various theories can explain the form(s) of business to adopt to respond to challenges coming from technological changes, the nature of the market, the stability or instability of the macroeconomic scenario, and the features of the institutional environment.
To do so the course investigates the development and functioning of various models of business (small firms, industrial districts, corporations, multinationals, family business, state-owned companies) over time and space. Thus neoclassical theory is used to analyse the nature of business organisation at early stages of industrialisation, economic sociology, evolutionary theory, and institutional perspectives to look at the emergence and development of multidivisional and multinational firms as well as the persistency of family business and industrial networks, while the regulatory approach and the institutional view will provide the theoretical background to study problem of entrepreneurship, the rationale for state-owned firms and the impact of foreign direct investments.