Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Enterprise: the History of Business since 1850
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 18 x 50 minute sessions
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 50 minute sessions
Seminars / Tutorials Individual 10-minute 'feedback tutorial' per written assignment submitted


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 word essay  25%
Semester Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 word essay  25%
Semester Exam 3 Hours   (1 x 3 hour exam)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  25%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  25%
Supplementary Exam 3 Hours   1 x 3 hour supplementary (resit) examination  50%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:
a) Demonstrate familiarity with a substantial body of historical knowledge in the field of economic and business history.
b) Engage in source criticism, discussion and understanding of the changing nature of the enterprise in different national settings. Engage with the debate over the extent and impact of changes in methods of production and changing markets on a national and global scale. Students will also critically appraise the role of the state in promoting or retarding the development of the enterprise in the 20th century.
c) Demonstrate familiarity with a wide range of historical techniques relevant to the understanding of the firm and its evolution.
d) Gather and sift appropriate items of historical evidence
e) Read, analyse and reflect critically on secondary and primary texts, in particular debates around the impact of scientific management, Fordism and Post-Fordist interpretations of historical change and the impact of the large-scale enterprise.
f) Explore the relationships between history and other disciplines, particularly business history, social history, economics and sociology.
g) Develop the ability to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of particular historical arguments and where necessary challenge them.
h) Develop oral (not assessed) and written skills which will have been improved through seminar discussions and essays
i) Work both independently and collaboratively, and to participate in group discussions (not assessed).

Brief description

This option module will chart the shaping of the modern economy and the determinants of corporate structure, success and failure, from a historical and comparative perspective, during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The module will examine varying historical interpretations of changing emphases of scale, scope and strategy and will include, for example, the growth of the large-scale US corporation and multinational; anatomies of the Japanese Zaibatsu/Keiretsu systems; the Mittelstand sector of medium-sized firms in Germany and the new South-East Asian 'tigers' such as South Korea and Taiwan. The module will have an internal and external focus. In addition to examining formal industrial relations systems, for example, it will outline the cultural and social context in which these systems thrive.


1. Introduction.
2. Bolckow Vaughan and the Manufacture of a City.
3. Cadbury Bros. Doing Good and Making Money.
4. Dent Allcroft. An Enterprise and its Community .
5. Ford and the Art of Mass Production.
6. Kay and Co. Capitalism in the Parlour.
7. 3i. Venture Capitalism in Britain.
8. IBM. The Rise and Fall of an IT Giant.
9. Thomas Cook and the Market for Leisure.
10. de Havilland. The Perils of Innovation.
11. Sony. Corporate Learning Curves.
12. EMI. Multinational Entertainment.
13. Upper Clyde Shipbuilders. The State as Entrepreneur.
14. John Stephen. Fashioning an Enterprise.
15. Manchester United. The Global Branding of Sport.
16. The Bodyshop. The Ethics of Profit.
17. Damien Hirst. The Art of Business.
18. Conclusions

Semianrs will consist of presentations by students. Each student will be expected to pick a case study enterprise, undertake research on this firm, and present a short talk to the seminar group, outlining the features of the firm in question and any interesting aspects or debates which have been discovered or confronted in the processs of the research.


This module is at CQFW Level 6