HIS 3410 The Firm


HIS 3410 The Firm

Responsible for the course
Sverre August Christensen

Department of Innovation and Economic Organisation

According to study plan

ECTS Credits

Language of instruction

The course provides a broad introduction to the main features of the role of firms in the economy. The versatility of firms will be presented in a broader social context with the aid of historical, ethical and theoretical perspectives. The course aims to educate participants through an introduction to broad historical developments in the Western world, focusing in particular on the foundations relevant for firms and the market economy.

Learning outcome
Acquired knowledge
  • Familiarity with theories of why firms exist.
  • Familiarity with the main features of the historical development of the firm, with an emphasis on understanding traditions underpinning the firms of today.
  • Acquire knowledge with respect to the functioning of the inner life of firms.
  • Understand how power structures in firms reflect different forms of legitimacy.
  • Acquire knowledge of the significance of innovation, development and crises.

Acquired skills
  • Be able to reflect on the role of firms in the economy in general.
  • Be able to understand and reflect on the main features of the ethical and moral dimensions relating to firms.
  • Be able to discuss situations involving moral dilemmas for firms.
  • Be able to distinguish between the different roles and bases of ownership and leadership.
  • Understand the many roles of the state vis-à-vis firms.
  • Be able to reflect in writing on complex contexts.

Developed reflection
  • Develop recognition of our personal responsibility as members of society.
  • Develop recognition of the individual moral responsibility of both firms and employees.
  • Develop recognition of the relationship between firms and society at large.
  • Develop recognition of historical change and historical foundations, not least with respect to ethical and moral dimensions.


Compulsory reading
Micklethwait, John and Adrian Wooldridge. 2005. The company : a short history of a revolutionary idea. Modern Library. Paperback edition

Knut Sogner og Sverre Christensen. 2012. Kompendium for HIS 3410 Bedriften. Handelshøyskolen BI

Recommended reading

Course outline
  1. Introduction
  2. The firm Ltd.
  3. The firm and the three industrial revolutions
  4. The problem of self-interest
  5. The firm's social responsibility
  6. Process: Ethical issues (Writing a paper)
  7. Who runs the firm?
  8. Process: Group discussions
  9. Who owns the firm?
  10. The firm and globalization
  11. How are firms created and developed?
  12. Innvoation and society
  13. The state and the firm
  14. Process: Summing up
  15. Summing up

Computer-based tools
No particular IT tools are used in this course.

Learning process and workload
The course consists of lectures, writing an assignment for submission and discussing and summarizing assignments. There are 9 course lectures based on the principal course components. In addition there will be 3 lectures in connection with writing a paper, about the group discussions and summing up. In the part about writing the students will learn proper citation practices. The assignment will be distributed via It's learning at the start of the course. The assignment is to be written individually, submitted electronically and then discussed in groups of 4-6 students. On the basis of group discussions of each other’s assignments, students are to submit a presentationwrite a short report consisting of the following components:
  1. What did the group learn from discussing the technical aspects of writing?
  2. How would the group as a whole summarize the academic content of the question?

The group presentations are submitted individually and electronically, students can not submit on behalf of anyone else.

Summary of the process:
  1. Plenary lecture on writing technique and ethics
  2. Submission of individual paper on It's learning, 4-6 pages (mandatory)
  3. Students are divided into groups and there is a lecture about the group discussions
  4. Group work on writing presentation. The presentation must be submitted on It's learning. (mandatory)
  5. The process is summed up by the lecturer.

Course work requirement
Students must submit both the individual paper and the group report on It's learning.
During the semester there will be 8 multiple-choice tests of which 5 must be approved in order for the student to sit for exam. It is a requirement that such a test is passed and that at least 30 % of the possible points are achieved. The students will be allowed three attempts before the deadline of the test. Information about the time period for the tests to be taken, will be given in the lectures and through It's learning.

Participation in lectures I
Preparation for lectures
Writing indivdual paper for submission
Colloquiums on academic papers
Participation in lectures II
Self- study and colloquiums
Total recommended use of hours

Students are required to participate in all parts of the process activities. Submission of individual papers and group presentation are registered on It's Learning.

The e-learning platform It’s learning is used by the e-learning centre to administrate the mandatory exercises, and make students able to communicate with each other and the lecturer. Module sessions are carried out at the beginning of the semester and before exams. The e-learning students are also offered a study guide which is an educational guide to the syllabus.

Recommended use of hours:
Activity Hours
Lectures (weekends) 8
Prepare for lectures/reading literature 12
Write individual assignment 20
Exercises individually and in groups 12
Individual study, assignments and activities on It's Learning 145
Exam 3
Total recommended use of hours 200

    Coursework requirements
    Students must submit both the individual paper and the group presentation (submitted individually) on It's learning. The students must have these approved before taking the examination. See Learning Process and Workload for further details. In addition the students have 5 out of 8 multiple choice tests approved..

    A three-hour individual written exam concludes the course.

    Examination code(s)
    HIS 34101Written examination, counts 100% towards an approved grade on the course HIS 3410 The Firm ( 7.5 credits).

    Examination support materials
    No examination support materials are permitted.

    Re-sit examination
    A re-sit exam is held every semester.
    Students that have not passed the course work requirement must first retake the exercises in connection with the next scheduled course.
    Students that have not passed the written exam or who wish to improve their grade must retake the exam in connection with the next scheduled exam.

    Additional information
    Colleges of Higher Education require the correct use of references in all academic work. Link to BI Library page on using citations and references is recommended for all students at BI Norwegian Business School.