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Business, Government and Society (19M00364)

General information






S semester

ECTS Credits:


Teaching Staff:

Group Teacher Department Language
Sec: A Daniel Arenas Vives Ciencias Sociales ENG

Group Teacher Department Language
Sec: B Daniel Arenas Vives Ciencias Sociales ENG

Group Teacher Department Language
Sec: C Daniel Arenas Vives Ciencias Sociales ENG


Business is a contested institution: while some emphasize that growing productivity and innovation has led to improving the economic conditions of many people, others worry about the social and environmental costs of business activity, as well as its political consquences. At the core of these intense debates, there are different views about the current and ideal interaction between business and its social and political environment. A failure to pay attention and understand these different perspectives, and the stakeholder groups that advance them, can lead to business difficulties as well as exacerbating social tensions and political turmoil.
This course contributes to the MBA curriculum by providing students with an understanding of the nonmarket components that form the environment in which companies develop their activities. This environment is formed by formal and informal rules and by various actors playing different functions, including governments, international organizations, the media, nongovernmental organizations, and a host of activists and interest groups. Furthermmore, this environment clearly changes from region to region, and country to country, as well as evolving over time.
The course helps participants to have a vision of business and management that incorporates the interdependence and interaction with nonmarket institutions, taking examples from different countries and companies. This course can be seen also as a first part of the course next term called "Managing Ethics and Sustainability? in which students will focus into the different ways to companies manage sustainability and expectations of greater responsibility.

Course Learning Objectives

After completing the course, students are expected to:

- Analyze the main issues through the eyes of a broad range of stakeholder groups
- Be able to analyze situations using the concepts and method of social analysis presented (the subsystems of society or categories of nonmarket factors).
- Analyze how companies manage their nonmarket environment that affect them, analyze alternatives, and provide suggestions for action.
- Be able to express coherent, persuasive, and supported opinions about these topics orally and in writing.


1. Session 1a: Introduction.

Discussion of students¿ backgrounds and expectations, explanation of syllabus, description of the course. Introductory discussion of the notion of nonmarket strategies and presentation of stakeholder theory. Presentation of tools to structure analysis of social transformations.
Explanation about the country reports (in teams).

2. Session 1b: Activists, Social Movements and NGOs

Discussion of the role played by activists, social movements and NGOs, which through their transnational networks can act as a counter power to business. These actors can also in other cases collaborate with business to raise social and environmental standards. Sometimes there is a mixed dynamic of conflict and collaboration.

-Flirting with the Enemy: The WWF/LA FARGE Conservation Partnership (A) (IMD-2-0101)

Background reading:
-Spar, D. L., & LaMure, L. T. (2003). The Power of Activism: Assessing the Impcat of NGOs on Global Business. California management review, 45(3), 78-101.

3. Session 2a: Business and Governments: Types of influence and lobbying

There are numerous ways by which governmental institutions affect business. Recently regulatory agencies has gained more power in many countries, and their role is not always fully understood. On the other hand, firms have the right to speak on issues that affect them and to petition government. They use different tactics to achieve their goals. But there are concerns about the political influence of business organizations and about the criteria to set standards for this responsibility.

Background Reading:
-Johnson, S. (2009). The quiet coup. The Atlantic, 52.

4. Session 2b: Group session 1

5. Session 3 a & b: Environmental crisis: Managing the commons

Planet boundaries are increasingly something that managers, public administrators and cionsumers and citizens need to take into account. Managing common pool resources is at the center of many sustainability challenges. Through an interactive computer simulation, you will play the role of entrepreneurs seeking to maximize your profits as you invest in and manage a fishing fleet.

6. Session 4a: Private Regulation and Global Supply Chians

Increasingly, production takes place in global supply chains where corporations face growing scrutiny over their suppliers' labor and production practices. We will explore the strategic reasons why firms seek to improve their record in these supply chains. These include improving reputation, pre-empting government regulation, building capacity in supply chains and improving conditions in potential markets. We will also raise questions concerning business and society in an international context. What is the role of the corporation in the global economy? Do corporations have an obligation to contribute to the development of countries where they expand? What is the role of private and public regulation for improving corporations¿ global sustainability footprint?

7. Session 4b: Group session 2

Individual Assignment 1 (to be announced)

8. Session 5a: Corruption & Transparency

Corruption remains a big obstacle for business and for development in many countries (and not only in the developing world). Managers are often confronted with demands to bribe public officials or business partners. For some, it is just part of the way of doing business in certain countries. But it has distorting effects to the market, and to society. Few managers understand the legal implications of bribing: Does it matter what a bribe is for? Is it ever justified?R What can businesses do to fight it?

9. Session 5b: Group sessions 3

Individual Assignment 2 (to be announced)


The course will use different types of materials and methods: readings, cases, student presentations, and assignments to be posted on the course webpage. Regular attendance is required. Students who fail to attend regularly will not receive course credit. In addition, students are expected to come to the sessions and express their points of view, doubts, interests, etc. The main professor and the group professors will take into account active participation for the final grade. What will be appreciated is, of course, not quantity of participation (e.g. number of minutes talking) but quality.

Some of the sessions of the course will be based on cases. For this purpose, it is indispensable that students read the cases beforehand and devote some time to thinking about it. Moreover, before the session, teams should get together to discuss the cases. Participation in case discussion will be an important part of the final grade and lack of preparation for the case discussion will also be reflected in the grade.

Individual Assignments:
During the course, the participants are expected to write 2 short analyses or commentaries answering the question or topic proposed in the course outline (related to the readings). These assignments will be introduced in the Webpage of the course. The general objective of the assignments is to a) address the question proposed; b) express a coherent and supported personal opinion; c) link, support or contrast your opinions with all the readings.
The deadline for writing these commentaries is 24 hours before the beginning of the plenary class (late commentaries will be penalized, even if it is only one minute late, subtracting 2 points from the grade of the assignment the first 12 hours, and 4 points afterwards. If there are problems with the course webpage, you can send it by email to your group professor).
The possible grades of the assignments will be from 0 to 10.

Final paper:
Each team will write and present a report analyzing how a non-market issue is affecting a company and how the company reacted to it. It will be particularly appreciated if the teams are able to establish connections between the different topics covered in the course. The conclusions of the paper can offer general opinion of the group based on the information and arguments presented in the paper and/or recommendations. In addition to the interest, originality and depth of the content of the paper, the structure and style will also be taken into account by the professors.

The final papers should be between 2500 and 3500 words in length (1,5 space), and can include appendixes at the end.

During the exam session, the teams will present the final paper.

Failure to complete all class requirements results in the final class grade being zero.


Plagiarism is considered a very serious offense. It is a form of stealing, which leads future employers and faculty to question your integrity and your performance in general. If you engage in any form of cheating such as (but not limited to) copying someone else's assignments, plagiarizing, having someone else write or prepare an assignment for you in part or in whole, buying a paper, etc., you will be referred to the Program Director. This could mean a grade of 0 for the entire course. Check if you have any doubts on how to avoid plagiarism.

Honor Code:

Violations of academic integrity are considered very serious. If you engage in any form of cheating such as (but not limited to) copying someone else's assignments, plagiarizing, having someone else write or prepare an assignment for you in part or in whole, buying a paper, etc., you will be referred to the Program Director. This could mean a grade of 0 for the entire course. If you are pressed for time, it is far better to accept a reduction in the grade for that assignment than to fail the course in its entirety. If you need assistance with your writing or learning skills, please contact the professors.



Description %
Individual Assignments 30
Team Presentation of Final Report 10
Written Final Report (in teams) 35
Participation in class 25


Acemolgu, D. and Robinson, J. 2012. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. New York: Crown Publishers.

Baron, D. P. 2003 Business and Its Environment. Fourth Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Collier, P. 2008. The Bottom Billion. Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Friedman, T. L. 2008. Hot, Flat, and Crowded. Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giraux.

Fukuyama, F. 2005. State Building. Governance and World Order ini the Twenty-First Century. London: Profile Books.

Guy, F. 2009. The Global Environment of Business. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Khanna, P. 2008. The Second World. How Emerging Powers Are Redifining Global Competition in the Twenty-First Century. London: Penguin Books.

Layard, R. 2005. Happiness. Lessons From a New Science. London: Penguin Books.

Nye, Joseph S., 2004. Soft Power. The Means To Success in World Politics. New York: Public Affairs.

Timetable and sections

Group Teacher Department
Sec: A Daniel Arenas Vives Ciencias Sociales

Timetable Sec: A

Group Teacher Department
Sec: B Daniel Arenas Vives Ciencias Sociales

Timetable Sec: B

Group Teacher Department
Sec: C Daniel Arenas Vives Ciencias Sociales

Timetable Sec: C