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2023/2024  KAN-CPHIO2017U  Philosophical Analysis in Business Studies

English Title
Philosophical Analysis in Business Studies

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Mandatory (also offered as elective)
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Study board
Study Board for BSc/MSc in Business Administration and Philosophy, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Marius Gudmand-Høyer - Department of Business Humanities and Law (BHL)
Main academic disciplines
  • Philosophy and ethics
  • Methodology and philosophy of science
  • Organisation
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 20-11-2023

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Identify and describe a problem to which a chosen organized business practice is committed
  • Account for and categorize the particular kind of individual presupposed by the organized business practice
  • Clarify and discuss both problem and kind of individual with reference to seminal theoretical contributions within the combined field of philosophy, business administration and/or economics
  • Develop and argue for a reasonable plan for inquiring into the above, including a research question, choice of possible methods, and a presentation format
Philosophical Analysis in Business Studies:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Oral exam based on written product

In order to participate in the oral exam, the written product must be handed in before the oral exam; by the set deadline. The grade is based on an overall assessment of the written product and the individual oral performance, see also the rules about examination forms in the programme regulations.
Individual or group exam Oral group exam based on written group product
Number of people in the group 2-5
Size of written product Max. 20 pages
Assignment type Synopsis
Release of assignment An assigned subject is released in class
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
20 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Written Synopsis and oral examination individually or in groups of 2-5 students.
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

The purpose of the course is to enable engagement in problems that shape our organized business practices with special emphasis on presupposed kinds of individuals. The emphasis on problems and presupposed individuals implies that the course will ask the following questions: What overall conception of employees, actors, customers, clients, subjects etc. are implied or presupposed by different organized business practices? How do such conceptions interact with the ways in which various problems are addressed, deemed important and committed to within these practices? 

The didactic purpose is to make the student capable of inquiring into these matters while combining the disciplines of philosophy and business administration/economics. This inquiry includes (a) the choice of a particular organized business practice apt for empirical study; (b) the application of specific analytical categories developed during the course; (c) the use of seminal theoretical contributions within philosophy and economics presented in the course; and (d) the articulation of a research question, arguments for choice of methods, and use of a final format for an adequate presentation of the above. Importantly, the inquiries are matters of co-development between students (choosing cases, theories, problems, etc.) and teachers (providing analytical categories and questions, discussion, framework for investigation, etc.) throughout the course. Moreover, they are prolegomenous in the sense that the work-in-progress examinations also prepare the student for carrying out larger scale project (not least a master thesis) by carefully discussing what it takes in terms of specified subject matter, analytical approach, empirical material, use of theory, methodology, literature review, etc.


Description of the teaching methods
The course has a successive, tripartite structure:

PART 1 introduces categories relevant for inquiring into problems, organized business practices and presupposed kinds of individuals. They are discussed philosophically as well as analytically. They are developed into structured inquiry forms for students to use in their analysis. At the end of the 1st part, students will present a selection of organized business practices that they are interested in. These organized practices will be evaluated in light of the analytical categories so they can be used as material for the empirical analysis concluding the course.

PART 2 presents a collection of seminal theoretical contributions within the combined field of philosophy, business administration and/or economics. The criteria is the presence of a philosophical anthropology built into theories, which can be used in a comparative analysis that students have to account for in the context of a chosen organized business practice committed to a particular problem. At the end of the 2nd part, students will write an individual, 3 page essay on one of the seminal contributions. The essay will be subject to academic critique and given feedback both individually and in peer groups.

PART 3 revolves around the development of a plan for inquiring into a chosen organized business practice with regard to problem commitment and kinds of individuals. This implies the creation and distribution of student groups based on the preference, one the one hand, one of the organized practices compiled in the first part and, on the other, for one of the seminal contributions discussed in the second part. Organized in a supervised, workshop format, the task is to develop and argue for an inquiry plan including a research question and choice of possible methods. Finally, this inquiry will have to choose between one of three pre-given formats, which will also serve as the template for the written synopsis whereupon the oral exam is based.
Feedback during the teaching period
Feedback is provided in class discussions as well as in relation to group work.
Student workload
Lectures 23 hours
Workshops 18 hours
Exam 15 hours
Preparation 150 hours
Expected literature


van Aken, Joan Ernst, Hans Berends and Hans van der Bij (2007). ”Problem-solving projects in organizations”. In: Problem Solving in Organizations: A Methodological Handbook for Business Students. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; pp. 7-16.

Bacchi, Carol (2015). “The turn to problematization: Political implications of contrasting interpretive and poststructural adaptations.” Open Journal of Political Science 5(1): 1-12.

Banerjee, Kiran and Jeffrey Bercuson. “Rawls on the embedded self: Liberalism as an affective regime.” European Journal of Political Theory 14(2): 209-228.

Cooper, Rachel (2004). “Why Hacking is wrong about human kinds.” The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55(1): 73-85.

Foucault, Michel ([1984]/1985). “Introduction.” In: The Use of Pleasures. Volume 2 of The History of Sexuality. New York: Vintage Books; pp. 3-13.

Foucault, Michel [1983]. “Problematics.” (Conversation with Thomas Zummer, November 1983.) In: Sylvère Lotri: Foucault Live: Interviews, 1961-1984. New York: Semiotext(e); pp. 416-422. 

Frankfurter, George M. (1994). “The nature of man: II.” International Review of Financial Analysis 3(3): 225-234.

Gigerenzer, Gerd (2015). “On the supposed evidence for libertarian paternalism.” Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6(3): 361-383.

Hacking, Ian (2007). “Kinds of people: Moving targets.” Proceedings of the British Academy 151: 285-318.

Haraway, Donna ([1985]/1991). A cyborg manifesto: Science, technology, and social-feminism in the late twentieth century.” In: Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge; pp. 149-182.

Jensen, Michael C. and William H. Meckling (1976). “Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure.” Journal of Financial Economics 3(4): 305-360.

Jensen, Michael C. and William H. Meckling (1994). “The nature of man.” Journal of Applied Corporate Finance 7(2): 4-19.

Kuorikoski, Jaakko and Samuli Pöyhönen (2012). “Looping kinds and social mechanisms.” Sociological Theory 30(3): 187-205.

Landry, Maurice. (1995). “A note on the concept of ‘problem’.” Organization Studies 16(2): 315-343.

Prasad, Ajnesh (2016). “Cyborg Writing as a Political Act: Reading Donna Haraway in Organization Studies.” Gender, Work and Organization 23(4): 431-446.

Okin, Susan Moller (2005). “‘Forty acres and a mule’ for women: Rawls and feminism.” Politics, Philosophy & Economics 4(2): 233-248.

Rawls, John. (1999). A Theory of Justice: Revised edition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Rittel, Horst W.J. and Melvin M. Webber (1973). “Dilemmas in a general theory of planning.” Policy Sciences 4(2): 155-169.

Scott, W. Richard and Gerald F. Davis (2007), Organizations: Rational, Natural and Open Systems. London & New York: Routledge.

Sunstein, Cass R. and Richard H. Thaler (2003). “Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron.” The University of Chicago Law Review 70(4): 1159-1202.

Zuboff, Shoshana (2019). The Age of Surveillance Capitalismhe Fight for the Future at the New Frontier of Power. London: Profile Books.

Last updated on 20-11-2023