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2015/2016  BA-BBLCV1501U  American Business History

English Title
American Business History

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Bachelor
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 45
Study board
Study Board for BSc og MSc in Business, Language and Culture, BSc
Course coordinator
  • Kevin McGovern - Department of International Business Communication (IBC)
Main academic disciplines
  • Globalization and international business
  • Political Science
  • Sociology
Last updated on 18-02-2015
Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors: At the end of the course students should be able to:
  • Develop a relevant problem area, analysis and conclusions in accordance with the conventions of academic writing
  • Exhibit understanding of the origins of United States business, economic, and labor relations
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the development of business and the economy in the United States
  • Demonstrate an understanding of political science approaches to institutional and organizational developement of business and government
  • Analyze critically issues of historical development and change in relation to economic theory
Course prerequisites
A general familiarity with American history. A level of proficiency in English allowing active participation and coherent writing.
American Business History:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual
Size of written product Max. 10 pages
Assignment type Written assignment
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Description of the exam procedure

Individual written 10-page essay responding to a prompt provided by the instructor. Appropriate essay format and quality standards will be discussed in class. Re-examination will be the same as the ordinary one.

Course content and structure

The business corporation is the most powerful and pervasive institution in American public life today. This course explores the development of business and the American corporation by weaving together business, economic, legal, technology, and labor history, in addition to institutional and organizational approaches drawn from political science. The course has two interrelated themes. First, it will trace how U.S. business transformed from small family firms and mercantile houses in the early 1800’s into joint stock companies and partnerships of the mid-nineteenth century, and to the multinational corporations of the twentieth century. Second, we will examine the role of diverse economic actors (including business leaders, workers, government officials, and social reformers) in shaping U.S. society. The course will explore the ways in which managerial decision making, technological choices, and relationships between government, capitalists, workers, and consumers shaped culture and society. Taking a historical and political science approach to American business provides insight into the sharpest contradiction in U.S. history: the persistence of economic inequality alongside the popular belief that anyone can achieve the “American dream.”

Teaching methods
The course consists of ten weekly double lessons. Lectures and class discussions.
Further Information

Changes in course schedule may occur.
Wednesday 13.30-16.05, week 37-41, 43-48.

Expected literature

Possible texts include:
Robert Heilbroner and Aaron Singer, The Economic Transformation of America, 1600 to the Present, 4th ed. Boston: Wadsworth/Cengage, 1999.
Marc Levinson, The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2006).
Nelson Lichtenstein, The Retail Revolution: How Wal-Mart Created a Brave New World (2009).

Last updated on 18-02-2015