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
After completed course students shall have:

  • Developed familiarity with theories of why firms exist.
  • Developed familiarity with the main features of the historical development of the firm, with an emphasis on understanding traditions underpinning the firms of today.
  • Acquired knowledge about ownership, leadership, multinational companies, innovation, and the state's relations to firms.
  • Knowledge about the problems related to self-interest, and possible solutions and answers to this.
  • Acquired knowledge with respect to what is meant by corporate social responsibility, and challenges related to it.
  • Acquired knowledge about ethical theories and challenges in business

Acquired skills
After completed course students shall be able to:
  • Reflect on the role of firms in the economy in general.
  • Understand and reflect on the main features of the ethical and moral dimensions relating to firms.
  • Discuss and try to solve moral dilemmas in business.
  • Distinguish between the different roles and bases of ownership and leadership.
  • Understand the many roles of the state vis-à-vis firms.
  • 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

Sverre Christensen og Knut Sogner. 2013. 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. Corporate social responsibility
6. Process: Ethical theories and issues
7. Management
8. Process: Group work and discussions
9. Ownership
10. Multinationals and globalization
11. Innovation and entrepreneurship?
12. Innovation 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. Comments and evaluations on each paper
  2. And new complementary question regarding the individual assignment
  3. How would the group as a whole summarize the academic content of the learning process?

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.
Those who are not able to participate in the group work, will have to do the group assignment alone.

Recommended use of hours:

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.
    Those who are not able to participate in the group work, will have to do the group assignment alone
    The students must have these approved before taking the examination. See Learning Process and Workload for further details.

    A three-hour individual written exam concludes the course.

    Examination code(s)
    HIS 34101 Written 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.