Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Trinity Menu Trinity Search

You are here Programmes > Undergraduate > Global Business > Module Outlines

BUU33590 Business in Society

(5 ECTS credits) - Semester One


Daniel Malan 

Phone:+27 82 9020269

Module Description/Content:

The Business in Society module investigates the relationship between business and society. The point of departure is that business forms an inherent part of society; hence, business in society, not business and society. The module critically explores some of the more traditional topics of corporate social responsibility (CSR), but the focus is on new models and new ways in which the purpose of business can be understood. The module follows the key ideas put forward by Ed Freeman and others in the prescribed textbook, “The power of and : responsible business without trade-offs”. These ideas focus on purpose, stakeholder value, business as a societal institution, the complexity of people and the necessity to put business and ethics together. In addition, the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the importance of corporate governance and the value of accountability and disclosure are also addressed.

Learning Outcomes:

Having completed this module, you should be able to:

    · Explain and evaluate core theories, concepts and frameworks through which the role of business in society is informed; 

    · Differentiate between and explain some of the core dichotomies in the field, e.g. profit and purpose, shareholder and stakeholder, regulation and voluntary action, etc.; and 

    · Recognise and evaluate the ethical significance of business decisions, activities and behaviour on society.

Textbooks and Readings:

Required Textbooks:
Freeman, R.E., Martin, K.E., and Parmar, B.L. (2020). The power of and : responsible business without trade-offs. Columbia University Press.

General Supplementary Readings:

Donaldson, T. and Walsh, J. (2015). Toward a theory of business. Research in Organizational Behavior, 35, 181-207. DOI: 10.1016/j.riob.2015.10.002 

Friedman, M. (1970). The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits. Available at 

International Integrated Reporting Council (2013). The International <IR> Framework. Available at 

Porter, M. E. & M. Kramer,( 2011). The Big Idea: Creating Shared Value; How to reinvent capitalism – and unleash a wave of innovation and growth. Harvard Business Review, 89, 62-77. 

The United Nations (n.d.). The sustainable development goals. Available at 

World Economic Forum (2016). “Values and the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Connecting the Dots between Value, Values, Profit and Purpose”, published by the World Economic Forum, Geneva, 2016. Available at 

World Economic Forum (2020). “The Great Reset”. Available at

Module Prerequisite:



Assessment for this module comprises two individual assignments and a group assignment. 

Individual assignment 1 (50% of final grade) 

Using course material along with any other material deemed relevant, write a 2 500 word report that critically reflects on a module-related topic of your choice. The report should examine the relevance of the topic and its application in a real-world context. References should be according to the APA method and all sources should be referenced. The assignment is due by the specified due time and date and must be submitted in PDF format. Permission for any deviations from these conditions must be obtained from the lecturer in advance. Students who are unable to submit the assignment for medical reasons must produce a medical certificate to the Trinity Business School office within three working days of the missed submission date. 

Individual assignment 2 (20% of final grade) 

Assess one of the team debates in which your syndicate group did not participate (specific debate to be assigned by the lecturer) and write a 500 word assessment based on the rubric (to be supplied by the lecturer). More detail will be provided in the first week of the module. The format should be reflective and no referencing is required. The deadline and submission details will be communicated. 

Group assignment (30% of final grade) 

The group assignment is integrated with the class debates. Two groups will compete against each other by either supporting or opposing one of the following statements: 

· Debate 1: All ethical values are relative – there are no universal values. 

· Debate 2: The only stakeholder that matters is the shareholder. 

· Debate 3: All human beings are interested in only one thing – their own self-interest. 

· Debate 4: The business world has been changed forever by Covid-19. 

· Debate 5: Sustainable development cannot be regulated, it must be based on voluntary action. 

Each syndicate group has to prepare a 15 minute presentation, as well as a 1000 word written report on the topic. The written report should reflect the position that you have to defend in the debate and does not have to reflect your individual opinions. References should be according to the APA method and all sources should be referenced.