The Firm and the Business Environment

First Year Module

This course focuses on the nature and functioning of firms and on their interaction with the business context.

The first part of the course offers an introduction to the nature of the firm and how different models of business emerged over time. Students learn how institutions, culture, technology, and finance impact on the way individual firms organise their activities and how these elements influence their ability to survive and develop. Further, students are introduced to the role played by market-based mechanisms and institutional forces in determining how firms interact and compete. This culminates in students engaging with the debate on whether there are distinct “varieties of capitalism” and on how different economic systems are characterised by different models of business, different forms of interaction, and different types of relationships with stakeholders.

The second part of the course provides a theoretical and conceptual introduction to key issues in the international business environment. Drawing upon historical and institutional background, cases and applications, students are encouraged to critically analyse the international environment in which firms’ decisions are made and assess the broader implications for society, key concepts and contemporary issues underpinning the course include globalisation, the role of transnational firms, the globalisation of the financial sector, and the response to globalisation from nation states and international institutions.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to:

  • Understand the way businesses work, develop, expand internationally, and interact with each other.
  • Appreciate the evolution of the global market and current topical debates surrounding globalization.
  • Have an awareness of the institutional, legal, political, cultural and technological environments that constitute today’s international business environment