SHE Level 5
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code MMN223826
Module Leader Stephen Sinclair
School Glasgow School for Business and Society
Subject Sociology
  • A (September start)
  • B (January start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge


Summary of Content

This core module reflects the fact that organisations do not operate in a vacuum: they are both shaped by and themselves also shape the geo-political, economic, social and technological environments in which they operate. Understanding the interaction between organisations and their wider contexts is essential to effective management and responsible leadership. This module is designed to equip students with the information and analytical skills required to critically reflect upon some of the most significant issues which pose challenges to business managers and organisational leaders in the modern world. The module adopts a multidisciplinary approach to examine challenges posed by changes in the contemporary social, political and institutional contexts in which businesses and organisations now operate. Case studies will be examined to illustrate these challenges, including such issues as globalisation, environmental sustainability, equality and diversity, problems of exclusion and discrimination, social cohesion, poverty and inequality, human rights, and the employment issues raised by the contemporary international labour market. The module will introduce students to the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), an initiative promoted by the United Nations Global Compact 'to promote responsible corporate citizenship and ensure that business is part of the solution to the challenges of globalisation85 and help realise a more sustainable and inclusive global economy'. The UN Compact proposes that academic institutions can shape the outlooks and practices of business leaders. PRME requires Universities and Business Schools to encourage students to reflect upon conventional management and develop a new philosophy of business practice: one which thinks beyond shareholder profit to consider the wider social and environmental consequences of management decisions. Students will reflect upon these Principles and their implications in the first half of the module (weeks 1-6) and explore in more detail how they might apply to their specialist programmes and professional interests in the second half (weeks 7 -12) The module will enable students to appreciate the issues, events and trends which confront managers and organisational leaders in an increasingly dynamic, interdependent and complex world, and to make reasoned independent judgements of the effects of alternative responses to these challenges.


The content of the module will be updated and revised to reflect developments in contemporary issues, however the core issues covered include the following: -567b7 Contemporary challenges and issues for business and management b7 Introducing the UN Global Compact and Principles for Responsible Management Education b7 Responsible business leadership and management in practice: guest speaker from Business in the Community b7 Responsible to shareholders and/or stakeholders? The fiduciary duties of business and managers and Corporate Social Responsibility b7 The contribution of social science to business and management: cultural variation and reflexivity b7 Ethical issues for business leaders and managers b7 Employment, human resources and alienation b7 Equality issues b7 Environmental impact business and management and sustainability b7 Politics and corporate citizenship b7 Social enterprise and social innovation The second half of the module will be delivered by programme specific teams and analyse in more detail contemporary issues in different disciplines and business sectors.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, the student should be able to:1. Critically appraise the causes and consequences of and implications for organisational leadership and responsible management of the shifting contours of global, politics, economics and social developments;2. Apply research and analysis techniques from social science and related disciplines to gather evidence on and evaluate the challenges faced by organisations and business leaders;3. Critically reflect upon the concepts of 'organisational responsibility' and 'responsible leadership' and their implications for private, public and third sector institutions;4. Examine and debate some of the contested issues and complex problems which business leaders and organisational managers encounter;5. Evaluate alternative responses to contemporary challenges facing business and society;6. Apply critical analysis to political, social, economic and environmental challenges that arise in specialist Masters programmes, particular business sectors and professional contexts.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The module will be delivered in 36 lectures and seminars. In addition, 8 hours of tutor-led activities will be delivered using applied learning strategies. The module will be delivered using a combination of lectures (including 'flipped lectures'), group discussion of case studies and analysis sessions, and blended learning techniques and resources, using online sources and a Virtual Learning Environment (GCU Learn). Lectures will be delivered by subject experts drawn from across the School for Business and Society and beyond - including external guest speakers from the business community and public and third sectors. Lectures will introduce students to specialist issues (e.g. social inclusion and poverty, gender and other inequalities, etc.) Seminars and case study analysis sessions will enable students to consider, reflect upon and discuss the information presented in lectures and through online and other sources, and apply these to their specialist areas and professional interests. There is a Reading Week during which students undertake directed reading and analyse material in preparation for formative and summative assignments. The module is organised into two thematic sections: -567b7 Weeks 1-6: generic analysis of contemporary social, economic and environmental issues for business and management (delivered by core module team) b7 Weeks 7-12: programme specific issues: applying principles and theories outline in trimester A to practical contexts through case studies (delivered by specialist Business and Management programme staff, led by respective Programme Leaders) GSBS will continue to use the advancement of GCU Learn as a blended learning tool through its teaching and learning as well as through engagement with students. GSBS will ensure that all modules are GCU Learn enabled and with the support of the Learning Technologists at the cutting edge of development of online materials. Academic staff and the Learning Technologists will continue to work together to develop and operate all modules on GCULearn to ensure student support and information sharing. -567

Indicative Reading

-567 Books and articles: Bauman, Z. (2007). Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty. Cambridge: Polity Press. Bisson, P., Stephenson, E. and Viguerie, S. P. (2010) 'Global Forces: an Introduction'. McKinsey Quarterly. (June). Blowfield, M. and Murray, A. (2011) Corporate Responsibility. (2 nd edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bones, C. (2011) The Cult of the Leader: A Manifesto for More Authentic Business. London: Wiley. Cabrera, A. and Unruh, G. (2012) Being Global: How to Think, Act, and Lead in a Transformed World. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Chan, H-J. (2011). 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism. London: Penguin. Friedman, M. (1970). 'The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits'. The New York Times Magazine, September 13 th . Giddens, A. (2002). Runaway World: How Globalisation is Reshaping our World. London: Profile. Grayson, D. and Nelson, J. (2013), Corporate Responsibility Coalitions: the Past, Present, and Future of Alliances for Sustainable Capitalism. Sheffield: Greenleaf Publishing. Harvey, D. (1973 / 2008). Social Justice and the City. (Revised edition). London: University of Georgia Press Macey, J. (2013). The Death of Corporate Reputation: How Integrity has been Destroyed on Wall Street. London: Financial Times / Prentice Hall. Sandel, M. J. (2011). What Money Can't Buy: the Moral Limits of Markets. Allen Lane. Toynbee, P. and Walker, D. (2008). Unjust Rewards. London: Granta. Online sources: BBC Radio 4 Inside The Bonus Culture (broadcast 25 th March 2013) BBC Radio 4 The Bottom Line, e.g. b7 Employment contracts and monitoring employees b7 Ruthlessness: investing and selling in deprived areas Henry Stewart Talks: Marketing & Management Collection - Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility - Principles for Responsible Management Education - Business & Politics Business & Society Corporate Social Responsibility & Environmental Management Ethical Corporation Journal of Business Ethics Journal of Management for Global Sustainability

Transferrable Skills

By the end of this module students will have gained competence in the following key areas: Academic and intellectual skills: Identifying and analysing issues which pose challenges to managers and organisations Exercising critical capacity and evaluation skills Research project design skills Practical familiarity with relevant online and other learning resources Personal Development: Capacity for independent work Critical self-reflection on leadership and management styles Problem-solving through application of evidence-based lessons to management and leadership issues Awareness of and sensitivity to diversity and equality issues Enterprise or Business skills: Effective time management: organising tasks to meet deadlines Using ICTs to access and manage information Effective communication: using appropriate writing styles and oral presentation experience.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Practicals (PT) 8.00
Independent Learning (FT) 106.00
Seminars (FT) 12.00
Independent Learning (PT) 106.00
Lectures (FT) 24.00
Lectures (PT) 24.00
Assessment (FT) 50.00
Seminars (PT) 12.00
Assessment (PT) 50.00
Practicals (FT) 8.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Course Work 01 n/a 20.00 45% Group Presentation and Learning Activity
Course Work 02 n/a 80.00 45% Case Study Analysis and Evidence Portfolio