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BU3591 Business in Society

(5 ECTS credits)


Gemma Donnelly Cox

Module Description/Content:

This module aims to explore the continuous political, environmental and social pressures that businesses operate under in their quest for profitability and sustainable competitive advantage. It will also examine the complicated enabling and threatening forces that face business managers in dealing with these pressures.

A thematic approach will be taken and the topics explored will include:

  • Economic competition and the ongoing need for businesses to maintain a strategic focus;
  • The way ethical expectations and public values change and impact on a business;
  • The transformational role played by technology;
  • The role of government and the impact of change on the business/government relationship;
  • How the world of work and the traditional job is evolving;
  • The growing ecological and natural resource concerns that impact on both business and society;
  • The evolving relationship between business and other societal institutions such as the media and the arts/humanities.

Each theme will be explored through the lens of the PESTEL environmental analysis framework used in strategic management.

Learning Outcomes:

Having completed this module, you should be able to:

  • Critique the diverse set of issues involved in the business/society relationship and debate;
  • Deconstruct key academic literature underpinning the different perspectives held within the debate;
  • Evaluate the role of Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility in modern business;
  • Recognise and evaluate the impact of business decisions, activities and behaviour on society;
  • Differentiate between the market and non-market issues involved in building a firm's strategy.

Textbooks and Readings:

Required Textbooks:
There is no set text for this course.

Recommended Reading:
Should you wish to consult a text, I would particularly recommend the following as a good overall one to consult: Lawrence, A. T., and J. Weber (2017). Business and Society: Stakeholders, Ethics, Public Policy  15th McGraw Hill.

There are also a significant number of relevant books in the college library on business and societal issues.

Module Prerequisite:



Assessment during term will account for 100% of the total course grade. There is no end of year examination. Marks will be awarded for:

  • An individual end of semester written assignment of 5,000 - 6000 words (70%)
  • A team based class debate theme presentation (10%)
  • A team based critical evaluation of the performance of the presenting teams each week (20%)

Attendance is a critical element for success in the module. Attendance records will be maintained each week. A peer appraisal process may be used for the debate related team based assignments.