Responsible Business and Society (IBUP008)

This module information is representative of what is included in the module in a given year. Details of actual reading, lectures and coursework may vary year to year and will be available at the beginning of the semester.


Module Co-ordinator

Darren McGuire





Credit value


Contact hours

20 contact hours


100% Coursework

This module introduces students to a broad range of material on the role of business in society, to critically examine the challenges to human resources and business practice emanating from the social and environmental responsibility agenda. The module focuses on the global political economy, its international regulators, the role and responsibilities of international organisations, the history of CSR, and how CSR is managed in different contexts, through the prism of moral philosophy.

Drawing upon evidence on irresponsible corporate behaviour and its impact on employees, communities, consumers and the environment, the module disentangles the role of organisations in social, political and economic domains at a global level. The module uses human rights and the United Nation’s Global Compact as a benchmark to assess corporate activity and managerial practice; it deploys moral philosophy as a tool to exercise judgment, make human resources decisions, and examine how ethical behaviour can be operationalised, so employees, their organisations, and society thrive together in the modern world.

Rooted in the dynamics between corporations, governments, transnational regulators, and non-governmental organisations, the module develops understanding at both the micro-organisational level of human resources practice and at a social and systems level. By situating HR practice in the global political economy of CSR, in multi-national power and the market system within which corporations operate, the module encourages students to reflect on decisions and the role of decision-makers in responsible business and encourages the development of key practitioner skills.

Module Objectives

The University of Stirling Management School believes management matters, and what we do and can do makes a difference. The purpose of the module is therefore to give the students the experience, skills, and analytical tools to have a positive impact in organisations today. Successful students will be expected to be fluent in the theory and practice of CSR.

The module aims to enable students to:

  • Understand theories and concepts of business ethics and social responsibility related to HR practices and the management of people in the workplace (PLO5)
  • Analyse the external environmental contexts of contemporary organisations within which international managers, HR professionals and workers interact (PLO3)
  • Explore ethical issues in organisations and critically assess the practice of ethical decision-making (PLO5)
  • Critically appraise the role of HRM and its strategic place in building an ethical corporate culture and the factors affecting HRM in international contexts and operations (PLO1)

Learning Outcomes

Specific knowledge and understanding of current developments in the subject

By the end of the module, students will:

  • Have understanding of the nature the HR profession and key strategic and managerial skills and practices used in the delivery of human resources in international organisations
  • Be familiar with the theory and practice of CSR and its limitations
  • Be able to employ Human Rights as a benchmark to assess corporate activity and managerial practice
  • Have explored the relationship between corporations, governments, transnational regulatory bodies, and non-governmental organisations in setting standards of corporate social responsibility
  • Be familiar with theories of moral philosophy and be able to use them as tools to analyse situations, exercise judgment, and make decisions on issues (human resources) managers and employees come across in their working lives (PL08)
  • Be familiar with HR practices that support ethical organisational cultures

Generic and Cognitive skills

  • Develop, present and communicate arguments logically in written and verbal form (PLO9)
  • Work independently and manage time effectively (PLO10)
  • Work effectively as a part of a team (PLO11)
  • Develop critical reading and analytical skills

Preparatory Work

  • United Nations (2015). United National Global Compact, available from: UNITED NATIONS Global Compact.
  • Friedman, M. (1970) The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits, The New York Times Magazine. Available from:
  • Banerjee, B. (2008) Corporate Social Responsibility: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Critical Sociology. 34(1): 51–79.
  • Bakan, J. (2004). The corporation: The pathological pursuit of profit and power. London: Constable.
  • Achbar, M. and Abbott, J. (directors) (2003). The corporation. Big Picture Media Corporation/Zeitgeist Films.


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