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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 Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryDuring recent years there has been growing interest among policymakers, development agencies and academics in the rapidly changing role of the private sector in international development. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls for an "enhanced global partnership" between the private sector, governments and NGOs, and many influential development practitioners increasingly view business as a ¿development agent¿ (Blowfield & Dolan, 2014) that should take a more active role in addressing global development challenges. Critics have raised concerns over the implications for equity and accountability of this expanded role for the private sector.
In this context, this course aims to equip students with skills and knowledge to critically interrogate role of business in development. Besides engagement with key contemporary policy debates and academic literature, the course will build upon long-running theoretical discussions within international development about the inter-relationships between state and market. The course covers a range of themes and topics, engaging relevant theory, empirical evidence and case study examples from around the world. Key topics include global value chains and the interlinked challenges of economic, social and environmental upgrading, industrial policy and state-business relations, innovation systems to create more inclusive and sustainable societies, and efforts to mobilise private finance for development.
Course description Business and development is an increasingly important topic within both academic scholarship and development practice. Through this course, students will develop their knowledge on the role of the private sector in differing trajectories of economic growth and structural change in low and middle income countries, and the implications for sustainability and inclusion. The course will familiarise students with long-standing scholarly debates on business and development, for example concerning industrial policy and ¿corporate social responsibility¿, while also engaging with more recent scholarship on global value chains and financialisation. While grounded in academic theory, the course places a particular emphasis on engaging with ongoing debates in development policy, and students will combine academic scholarship with critical examination of practioners¿ viewpoints and empirical case studies from different parts of the world. Key topics include: global value chains and the challenges of economic, social and environmental upgrading in internationally organised industries; industrial policy and state-business relations; innovation systems and the challenges of creating sustainable and inclusive economies; assessing the implications of the ¿financialisation¿ of development as the role of private financial actors in development activities increases. 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. Through this, students will develop skills in critical analysis and the evaluation of evidence which will be applied in assignments, and which are transferable across different academic and professional contexts.
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 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.
The course will engage with economic theories and concepts - both from mainstream neoclassical economics and heterodox economics - but requires no advanced background training in these subjects. Alongside economics and political economy, the course literature will draw from sociology, geography, anthropology and other disciplines to give a holistic view of 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:

Lund-Thomsen, P, Wendelboe Hansen, M & Lindgreen, A (2019) Business and Development Studies: Issues and Perspectives. London: Routledge
Gereffi, G. (2018). Global Value Chains and Development: Redefining the Contours of 21st Century Capitalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ponte, S (2019) Business, Power and Sustainability in a world of Global Value Chains. London: Zed
Barrientos, S. (2019). Changing Gender Patterns of Work in Global Value Chains: Capturing the Gains? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Blowfield, M & Dolan, CS (2014) ¿Business as a development agent: evidence of possibility and improbability¿, Third World Quarterly, 35:1, pp. 22-42.
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.
Khan, MH (2019). ¿Knowledge, skills and organizational capabilities for structural transformation¿ Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, pp. 48, 42-52.
Chaminade, C, Lundvall, BÅ, & Haneef, S (2018). Advanced introduction to national innovation systems. London: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Chataway, J, Hanlin, R & Kaplinsky, R (2014) ¿Inclusive innovation: an architecture for policy development¿, Innovation and Development, 4:1, pp. 33-54.
Bayliss, K & Van Waeyenberge, E (2017) ¿Unpacking the Public Private Partnership Revival¿ Journal of Development Studies, pp. 1-17.
Kish, Z & Fairbairn, M (2017) ¿Investing for profit, investing for impact: Moral performances in agricultural investment projects¿ Environment and Planning A, 50(3), pp. 569¿588
Swank, D (2016) ¿The new political economy of taxation in the developing world¿, Review of International Political Economy, 23:2, pp. 185-207.

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 secretaryMr Adam Petras
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