University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Business and International Development (PGSP11471)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryWith the United Nations┐ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calling for an "enhanced global partnership" between the private sector, governments and NGOs, there is an increased emphasis among development agencies worldwide on incorporating business into poverty reduction activities. The motivation is partly financial. The World Bank argues that achieving the SDGs requires the global development community moving from "Billions to Trillions" of dollars in Overseas Development Assistance. Doing so requires harnessing private sector funds by marrying profit making with poverty reduction. However, the trend also reflects influential claims that business can increase rigour and efficiency in development activities.

This optional course aims to equip students with skills, knowledge and understanding to critically interrogate the growing role of business in international development, and assess its implications for inclusivity, equity and power relations. The course is divided into two blocks. The first examines efforts to mobilise private finance for development through mechanisms such as ethical investment funds, public-private partnerships, market-based environmental policies, private philanthropy and tax justice. The second block of the course examines policies aimed to make businesses and markets contribute more to development. This will include exploring the "markets for the poor" (M4P) approach, efforts to integrate firms from developing countries into global value chains, and micro-enterprise development.

Besides engagement with contemporary policy debates and academic literature, the course will build upon long-running theoretical discussions within international development about the appropriate roles and inter-relationships between state, market and civil society. It will also incorporate newer material from heterodox economics on financialisation. This will be supported by detailed case study analysis featuring examples from Africa, South Asia, Latin America.
Course description The course aims to equip students with knowledge and understanding of the academic and policy debates about the role of the private sector in international development. This comes in a context where a variety of key actors within international development are advocating an increased role for business in solving global challenges of poverty and environmental sustainability. The course will enable students to critically analyse and evaluate the rationales for and drivers of these trends and their implications.

The course will interrogate both the underlying theoretical rationales for the promotion of business in development, while also paying close attention to how this is practically enacted in development policy. Alongside evaluation of longstanding academic debates on the roles of the state and the market in development and newer conceptual material on financialisation, the course will focus on detailed empirical scrutiny of influential business in development policies and strategies.

The aim is for participants to develop an awareness of the complexity and diversity of perspectives on this contentious topic, while developing skills in critical analysis and the evaluation of evidence which will be transferable across different academic and professional contexts.

The course is divided into two blocks. The first examines efforts to mobilise private finance for development. This will involve scrutinising ethical investment funds and impact investing, public-private partnerships in basic infrastructure, market-based environmental policies, private philanthropy and efforts to increase corporate tax revenues. The second block of the course examines policies aimed to make businesses and markets work better for development. This will include examining the influential "markets for the poor" (M4P) approach, efforts to improve firm capabilities to enter global value chains, the promotion of an enabling environment for small, medium and micro enterprises, and the role of multinational corporations in furthering poverty reduction.

The course will have a particular emphasis on critically evaluating the assumptions and evidence behind claims and policies relating to business and development. This means that besides the academic literature, students will be engaging with data, methods and evidence from development practioners and policymakers. Students will be challenged in class discussions and activities to engage with a diversity of perspectives and to both demonstrate and apply their knowledge on a week-by-week basis.

While the course will engage with economic theories and concepts - both from mainstream neoclassical economics and heterodox economics - it is by no means focused on economics and political economy, and requires no background in these subjects. The course literature will draw from sociology, anthropology, history and other disciplines to give a holistic view of the topic.

Assessments will require students to make independent choices about areas of focus and will give them experience of conducting academic research on relevant case studies. The aim in doing so is to provide students with skills, knowledge and understanding which can be applied across a range of contexts. The first assessment will be a group research presentation related to the first half of the course. Besides assessing learning, this aims to give students experience in the crucial skills of working collaboratively with peers and in oral presentation of information to an audience. The final assessment is an individual essay which will assess students┐ ability to evaluate and synthesize specialist literature and data, and to formulate independent positions on complex current debates on the subject matter.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of key theories, concepts and policies relating to the role of business in international development
  2. Critically analyse competing perspectives within debates on the role of business in international development while forming independent opinions on the subject matter.
  3. Review and analyse various forms of evidence in order to interrogate policies and claims regarding the role of business in international development.
  4. Apply the skills and the knowledge acquired to research-related assessment activities relevant to future academic or professional endeavours.
  5. Communicate their knowledge and understanding in both written and oral form.
Reading List
1. Indicative Readings:

Mawdsley, E (2015) "DFID, the Private Sector and the Re-centring of an Economic Growth Agenda in International Development", Global Society, 29:3, pp. 339-358.

Hudson D (2015) Global Finance and Development. London: Routledge.

Prahalad, CK (2009) The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits. London: Pearson

Dolan, E. (2012) "The new face of development: The "bottom of the pyramid" entrepreneurs" Anthropology Today, 28(4), 3-7.

Blowfield, M & Dolan, C.S. (2014) "Business as a development agent: evidence of possibility and improbability", Third World Quarterly, 35:1, pp. 22-42.

Bracking, S (2012) "How do Investors Value Environmental Harm/Care? Private Equity Funds, Development Finance Institutions and the Partial Financialization of Nature-based Industries" Development and Change 43:1, pp. 271┐293.

Janus H, Klingebiel S and Paulo S (2014) "Beyond aid: A conceptual perspective of the transformation of development cooperation" Journal of International Development 27:2, pp. 155-169.

Banerjee, A. V. and Duflo, E. (2011). Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty. New York: Public Affairs.

McGoey, L (2014) ┐The philanthropic state: market "state hybrids in the philanthrocapitalist turn" Third World Quarterly, 35:1, 109-125.

Barder, O (2009) "Beyond Planning: Markets and Networks for Better Aid" Centgre for Global Development Working Paper 185, pp. 1-45.

Bayliss K (2014) "The financialisation of water" Review of Radical Political Economics 46:3, pp. 292┐307.

Newel, P. & Bumpus, A. (2012) "The Global Political Ecology of the Clean Development Mechanism" Global environmental politics 12:4, pp. 49-67.

Ajayi, I & Ndikumana, L (2014) Capital flight from Africa causes, effects, and policy issues. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Keen, M., and M. Mansour (2010) "Revenue mobilisation in sub-saharan Africa: challenges from globalisation II "corporate taxation" Development Policy Review 28:5, pp. 573-596.

Sutton, J (2012) Competing in Capabilities: The Globalization Process. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mawdsley, E (2016) "Development geography II: Financialization" Progress in Human Geography

Cimoli, M et al (2007) Industrial Policy And Development: The Political Economy of Capabilities Accumulation. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Hildyard, N (2016) Licensed Larceny: Infrastructure, Financial Extraction and the Global South. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Loftus A & March H (2016) "Financializing desalination: Rethinking the returns of big infrastructure. International" Journal of Urban and Regional Research 40:1, pp. 46-61.

2. Resource Implications:

The readings will primarily be comprised of journal articles, public reports and books which are already available. No new journal subscriptions will be necessary. Some new books and ebooks will be ordered, but these will be within the Centre of African Studies book purchase budget. Course sustainability has been discussed with Centre of African Studies Head of Department, Barbara Bompani, and it is expected that 30-35 students will enrol, with more than half being from outside of the Centre of African Studies. Given that Andrew Bowman will lead both the seminars and the tutorials there will be no additional costs.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Graduates will be knowledgeable of a significant range of the key theories, concepts and policies relating to the role of business and the private sector in international development. They will be capable at an advanced level of identifying and critically analysing differing perspectives within complex, current debates on the subject, and of independently forming evidence-based opinions through the evaluation of different types of relevant data and specialised secondary literature. Students will be skilled in the application of this knowledge and critical understanding to both independent and group research on the subject, utilising a variety of analytical techniques in the process.

Besides these attributes specific to the subject area, graduates will enhance their generic cognitive skills in terms of their ability to evaluate and synthesise different types evidence, review and critically analyse literature, and independently formulate well-informed and original opinions on complex problems and issues. They will have the capability to communicate the knowledge and understanding they have obtained in written, oral and visual forms, with the latter comprising skills in both group debate and public presentation of research. Finally, graduates will have the ability to work both autonomously and in collaboration with peers on research tasks, with the assessed work also developing skills in critical reflection on the process of carrying out research. These skills will be transferable across a variety of academic and professional contexts, including development policymaking and the private sector.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Andrew Bowman
Tel: (0131 6)51 1000
Course secretaryMiss Kate Ferguson
Tel: (0131 6)51 5122
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information