Organisations in the Economy and Society

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof David Marsden and Dr Jonathan Liebenau


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Management, Organisations and Governance. This course is available on the MPhil/ PhD in Management and MPhil/ PhD in Management. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

This core course will introduce students to the economic and social context in which managers and their organisations operate. Managers have a special role within organisations by virtue of their ability to structure the way the organisation is designed and work is organised, to position their organisations in a changing economic and social landscape, and to develop organisational capabilities to profit from new opportunities. Our teaching encourages students to address questions such as:

  • Why do firms exist and what are the boundaries of the firm?
  • Why does exchange sometimes occur through markets and sometimes through firms?
  • Do markets emerge or are they created by firms?
  • What role do networks play in markets and organisations?
  • Does ownership matter?
  • What is meant by 'corporate governance' and why is it important?
  • Is the global economy converging to one form of capitalism, or does capitalism come in many forms?

The course draws on theory and evidence from a range of social sciences, including economics, economic sociology and organisational theory. It makes particular use of historical and international evidence. Lectures and classes are arranged under seven headings:

  • Exchange
  • Firms
  • Industry structure
  • Networks
  • How the firm can shape its external environment
  • Governance
  • Varieties of capitalism


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT. 3 hours of seminars in the ST.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to make oral presentations in class, and be expected to write one non-assessed essay during the MT.

Indicative reading

Aoki, M. (2001) Toward a Comparative Institutional Analysis. MIT Press, Cambridge; Bowles, Samuel, (2004) Microeconomics: Behavior, Institutions and Evolution Princeton University Press; Cabral L. (2000) Introduction to Industrial Organisation. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass; Callon M. ed (1998) The Laws of the Markets Oxford: Blackwell; Chandler, Alfred D., J., Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism Cambridge, MA: Belknap 1990; Coase, R. H. (1988) The Firm, the Market and the Law. Chicago University Press, Chicago; Fligstein, Neil (2001) The Architecture of Markets: an Economic Sociology of 21st Century Capitalist Societies. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ; Douma, S. and Schreuder, H. (2008) Economic Approaches to Organizations. 4th Ed. FT Prentice Hall; Hall, Peter A. and Soskice, David. (2001) Varieties of Capitalism : the Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage. Oxford University Press, Oxford; Marsden, David (1999) A Theory of Employment Systems. Oxford University Press, Oxford; Nelson R. R, and Winter S. G. (1982) An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change. Harvard University Press, Cambridge Mass; Smelser Neil J., and Swedberg Richard eds. (2005) The Handbook of Economic Sociology, Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ; Williamson O. E. (1985) The Economic Institutions of Capitalism: Firms, Markets and Relational Contracting. Free Press, New York


Exam (50%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (25%, 2000 words) in the ST.
Essay (25%, 2000 words) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: Management

Total students 2014/15: 62

Average class size 2014/15: 15

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Lecture capture used 2014/15: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness