Integrative Modules

Cross-cutting themes: Integrative modules

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Our MBA programme is built around three cross-cutting themes that relate to the world-scale challenges shaping today's business environment.

These are explored in three integrative modules during the University terms:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Global Rules of the Game
  • Responsible Business

You will be able to experience how these resonate within other parts of the programme and indeed with guest-speakers, non-programme events and student-run conferences and competitions. 


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Entrepreneurial thinking in its widest sense.

The Entrepreneurship integration module both supports the Entrepreneurship Project, by placing it in a wider context and discussing entrepreneurship skills explicitly, and extends our interpretation of Entrepreneurship to cover entrepreneurial thinking in its widest sense. 

The module looks at entrepreneurship as the ability to effectively deploy resources to devise business solutions to complex and multifaceted challenges. It focuses on two main areas of entrepreneurship:

  • Social entrepreneurship: broadly defined to include innovations within firms and new business models that simultaneously address social issues and make profits; and
  • Technological entrepreneurship: innovation that occurs within the firm and that spurs new businesses.

The teaching staff thread together the formal learning from core courses to give students a strong conceptual and theoretical base from which to work. This then leads directly to the Entrepreneurship Project, in which students put theory into practice with “real” opportunities to build, consult with, advise and learn from entrepreneurial ventures. The module also looks at entrepreneurial activity in the context of approaching global challenges, such as those discussed in GOTO.

The module has been structured to reflect the approach taken in the core courses, but with flexibility to focus on areas of specific interest to students and to take advantage of current entrepreneurship activities in the Oxford community.

We regard entrepreneurial thinking as a vital contributor to innovations in businesses and within society as a whole. It relates closely to our integration module on the Global Rules of the Game, as entrepreneurs are typically those who are able to disrupt established models and norms, and re-set them in new and often better ways. Entrepreneurs are good relationship-builders, who can create value through using existing resources and combining them in fresh ways to solve problems.


Global Rules of the Game

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The rules, norms and laws that shape the global economy,

Global Rules of the Game looks at the rules, norms and laws that shape the global economy, including international institutions and agreements as well as differences and disputes across countries that influence or constrain business opportunities.

Topics include:

  • Trade and tax laws
  • Intellectual property laws
  • Anti-corruption agreements and national laws
  • Trade agreements
  • Climate change agreements

These topics are covered in the core courses of the MBA, but in the Global Rules of the Game module, students will be encouraged to question them more deeply. Who sets the ‘rules’ in the first place? Who is allowed to be around the table and whose interests are being taken into account? How do we create and maintain new rules as new markets emerge? The module will draw on expertise from across the University to give students insights into the mechanisms of business-government relations, stakeholder engagement, and reputation management.

The module starts with a three-hour role-playing game looking at intellectual property in the pharmaceutical industry, highlighting the interaction of government action and business outcomes. It will also connect with discussions in the Responsible Leadership integration module as it addresses issues such as access to medicine.  This will be followed by a series of expert lectures delivered by faculty and business leaders on significant areas where global rules shape business activity, are defined in multiple arenas and are currently debated.

Subjects include: 

  • Taxation issues for multinational corporations
  • Financial markets regulation and self-regulation
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Net neutrality or privacy in a digital world
  • Labour standards and/or environmental standards for multinational corporations
  • Outsourcing of state functions and the role of multinational companies: private military companies, public service companies, etc.

The module will conclude with a second simulation that draws on scenario-based learning to help students reflect on implications of rules and institutions, and how to operate in circumstances where these are complex and uncertain.

Responsible business

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The role of the corporation in society.

Responsible business has been an increasingly important theme that has permeated all our teaching on the degree programme in recent years but now we have pulled the elements together to teach it in a dedicated and integrating module at the heart of the MBA. 

The Responsible Business* module will look at two broad areas: the design and purpose of the corporation itself, and the ethical decision-making of business leaders. 

Students will be required to think critically about the role of the corporation in society, including its relationships with stakeholders and its responsibilities towards them and to society at large. The discussion will build on topics that students are exploring in other parts of the programme (in GOTO, and the Accounting and Strategy courses, for example) such as the implications of the current challenges of modern capitalism, corporate responsibility and the motivations of social entrepreneurs. They will explore the issues through a variety of mechanisms such as participating in simulations and discovering the impacts of different decisions, through making and discussing presentations, and through developing a business plan or feasibility study. 

The module also focuses on the individual, on the nature of ethical dilemmas and decision-making, and on how business leaders can recognise and respond to issues with a moral dimension. This builds on the leadership skills that students develop throughout the programme, particularly in the Leadership Fundamentals course and potentially during the executive coaching component of the programme.