Course 2014-2015 a.y.



Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 6 - 7
IM (6 credits - II sem. - OB  |  SECS-P/12)
Course Director:

Classes: 6 (II sem.) - 7 (II sem.)

Course Objectives

This course examines the role of entrepreneurs and corporations in the global market over the past two centuries. Based on a longitudinal methodology of analysis and a vast array of case-histories, the course addresses a wide range of issues related to international business. Through the inductive, articulated methodology typical of the historical approach, it is possible to answer to questions relevant in contemporary international business management, e.g.: how can entrepreneurs and firms successfully exploit the opportunities and overcome the problems of operating outside their home country? Which is the role of technology in explaining the evolution of internationalization strategies? Which is the part played by local culture and patterns of consumption in explaining the success or failure of international corporations? Which is the part played by governments in this process? What is the contribution of multinationals to the wealth of a nation?

In this perspective, the objectives of the course are:

  • to provide the students with the analytical tools and the sensibility to understand the entrepreneurial dynamics in a complex environment;
  • to understand, through a broad, global and comparative approach the dynamics of continuity and change in shaping entrepreneurial opportunities;
  • to stress the relevance of path dependency and of its understanding and management in strategic decision making;
  • to provide concrete examples of strategic decision making in conditions of uncertainty and complexity;
  • to stress the relevance of local contexts in providing the opportunities and constraints for firms and entrepreneurs active at an international level;
  • to explore, through historical examples, the strategic opportunities in present emerging economies through the analysis of the contribution of global firms to now advanced countries.

Course Content Summary

  • Introduction.
  • Course overview.
  • Theorizing international business.
  • Transaction and agency costs, uncertainty and information asymmetries: strategies of international business before industrialization.
  • Governments, trade and internationalization: strategies of international business in the First Industrial Revolution.
  • Globalization and technology: strategies of international business in the Second Industrial Revolution.
  • Focus: strategies of globalization; durable goods and international distribution.
  • Focus: strategies of globalization; branding and country effects.
  • Crisis and disequilibrium. Strategies of international business in the 1930s.
  • Growth and integration. Strategies of international business in the Golden Age.
  • Cultural challenges. Strategies of international business in new contexts.
  • Leviathans 2.0. Strategies of international business in the 21st century.

Detailed Description of Assessment Methods

The exam is written. Students are asked to answer to some True/False (with motivation) questions; to some open questions; to comment a graph or table and to comment on a newspaper article concerning issues discussed in the course. No intermediate exams are scheduled.

There is no difference in the exam modality between attending/non attending students. The second part of the course is based upon the discussion in class of workgroups presentation by the students. The workgroup grade is valid for two academic years.


For attending students

The course is based on class materials available on the class website, readings available at Course Reserve, power point presentations of each lesson.

For non attending students

  • G. JONES, Multinationals and Global Capitalism. From the Nineteenth to the Twenty-first Century, Oxford U.P., Oxford, 2005.
Exam textbooks & Online Articles (check availability at the Library)
Last change 01/07/2014 14:25