International development

Development, Business and Corporate Social Responsibility

Module code: L2131SDUA
Level 6
30 credits in autumn semester
Teaching method: Workshop
Assessment modes: Dissertation

This module explores the role of business in development and the rise of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement.

In recent years, the private sector – transnational corporations (TNCs) in particular – have become increasingly important players in the development process. The business and development movement has emerged as part of the dramatic rise of CSR over the past decade – providing a new vision for the role of business in society as 'corporate citizen'. Development institutions (such as DFID and the UN, as well as global NGOs) have become increasingly interested in mobilising businesses, not only as donors, but as partners in development. At the same time, ethical trading initiatives, the fairtrade movement and pro-poor enterprise models offer different opportunities for harnessing the power of the market in the service of development.

We will explore a number of key questions concerning the role of business in development and the rise of the CSR movement, from the perspective of both its proponents and opponents.

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the emerging field of corporate social responsibility (CSR), private sector development and the role of business in development
  • Show in-depth knowledge of a wide selection of empirical and theoretical literatures on the core readings covering the broad topics of CSR and business in development (this includes related readings on ethical trade, partnership, business and human rights and labour-capital relations)
  • Demonstrate the ability to analyse primary and secondary sources of data
  • Demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate texts on CSR written from divergent perspectives
  • Students should be able to communicate their knowledge and understanding of key debates on CSR and the role of business in development in written work