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Module Reading List

The Contemporary Business Environment, 2019/20, Semester 2
Joanna Townend
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue

LUBS1795 – The Contemporary Business Environment

Reading List

Much of your research for your assignment will be done through media outside this reading list such as the company website or The financial times. or Yahoo Finance . 

There are two texts that support the module. Henry (2018) has the most information useful to this module but Johnson (2017) also contains much useful information and you will use this particular text again in other modules on this course.

Henry, A. 2018 Understanding Strategic Management (3rd ed.) Oxford, New York: OUP

Johnson, et al, 2017 Fundamentals of Strategy (4th ed). Harlow: Pearson

The reading list identifies both key reading i.e. that which is fundamental to your understanding of each topic, and additional reading which is there to help deepen your understanding. Remember, the deeper your understanding of a topic the easier it will be to gain higher marks in the assignment.

Week by Week Reading Guide

It is essential that you read the key readings and a selection of the additional reading each week. 

Week 1 - Introduction to the Module and Your Assignment Company

Key Reading: 

The reading for this week focuses on the academic skills you will need to complete the assignment;

Critical thinking skill reading;

Cottrell, S., 2013. The study skills handbook. (4th ed.)Macmillan International Higher Education. - Chapter 6, Core Research Skills and Chapter 7, Critical Analytical Thinking. Great book for all your study skills while you are here at University.

Williams, K., 2014. Getting critical. Palgrave Macmillan. – Brilliantly simple book. Gives you all you need to know about critical reading, thinking and writing. Great on-line resource by the library. They also do workshops which are well worth booking onto if you feel a bit uncertain about critical reading, thinking and writing.

Web Resources on how to construct a report; 

Week 2 – Mission, Vision, Values and Objectives

Key Reading:

Johnson, et al, 2017 Fundamentals of Strategy (4th ed). Harlow: Pearson.  Read Mission, Vision, Values and Objectives in the Strategic Purpose Section. You need to aim to understand what each of these terms mean and look at what your company says for all or any of these;


Henry, A. 2018 Understanding Strategic Management (3rd ed.) Oxford, New York: OUP. Read the section on Vision, Values and Mission.

Campbell, Andrew, and Sally Yeung. "Creating a sense of mission." Long Range Planning. 24.4 (1991): 10-20. Although this is an old reference the Ashridge Mission Model gives one type of lense through which you can analyse your company’s mission, values and vision.

Kantabutra, S. and Avery, G.C., 2010. The power of vision: statements that resonate. Journal of Business Strategy31(1), pp.37-45. Here is an alternative lense through which your company’s mission statement can be reviewed. OCR REQUESTED BY LIBRARY (KR 02/01/2019) 

Additional Reading:

Cady, Steven H, et al (2011) “Mission, Vision, and Values: What Do They Say?” Organization development journal ISSN: 0889-6402, Volume 29, Number 1, Pp 63 – 78. This article will help you understand the linkage between mission, value and vision statements.

Daly, Pat, and James S. Walsh. "Drucker's theory of the business and organisations: challenging business assumptions." Management decision.  48.4 (2010): 500-511. Discusses Drucker’s theory that all businesses are founded on assumptions that have a reduced “fit” to prevailing business conditions over time, creating strategic challenge for the company. Here is the link to Drucker’s original article;

David, F.R., 1989. How companies define their mission. Long Range Planning. ISSN: 0024-630122(1), pp.90-97. This is an old reference but it will help you to understand the foundational basics to this topic. The article reviews what’s in mission statements but also considers why some companies don’t have one.

Williams, Linda. (2008)  “The Mission Statement: A Corporate Reporting Tool with a past, Present and Future.” Journal of business communication. ISSN: 0021-9436, Vol. 45, Number 2, April, pp 94-119. Research and analysis on 1000 mission statements. Is there a link between company performance and their mission statement? This is an update of David’s (1989) work. Available online 

Week 3 - Challenges and Opportunities in the Business Environment

Key Reading: Select one of the main texts to read up on this topic. They both cover the same areas and give examples that you will find helpful. Aim to understand how to complete a PESTLE analysis well enough so that you can complete one for your assigned company and from this, construct a PESTLE impact table, isolating the most impactful factors and writing about these in this section of your report.

Henry, A. 2018 Understanding Strategic Management (3rd ed.) Oxford, New York: OUP Read chapters 2 and 3.


Johnson, et al, 2017 Fundamentals of Strategy (4th ed). Harlow: Pearson - Read chapter 2

Townend J (2015) Commercial Awareness Toolkit. Step by step guide on how to complete a PESTLE analysis.   


Additional Resources: Very simple explanation of PESTLE analysis by the UK’s CIPD, the professional body for HR and People Development.

I’ve included a couple of references below for those who are particularly interested in strategic/corporate foresight or are budding business futurologists.

Rohrbeck, R. and Schwarz, J.O., 2013. The value contribution of strategic foresight: Insights from an empirical study of large European companies. Technological forecasting and social change. ISSN: 0040-162580(8), pp.1593-1606.

Rohrbeck, R., Battistella, C. and Huizingh, E., 2015. Corporate foresight: An emerging field with a rich tradition. Technological forecasting and social change. ISSN: 0040-1625101, pp.1-9.

Week 4 – Capabilities and Competing

Key Reading: Select a reading from one of the 2 recommended texts. The objective is to understand how to identify on what basis you company is competing. The two additional references are classic papers from management strategist Michael Porter.

Henry, A. 2018 Understanding Strategic Management (3rd ed.) Oxford, New York: OUP. Read the chapter on Industry Analysis. Johnson, et al, 2017 Fundamentals of Strategy (4th ed). Harlow: Pearson – Read the sections on industries and sectors, competitors and markets in chapter 2. Bingham, C.B., Eisenhardt, K.M. and Furr, N.R., 2011. Which strategy when. MIT Sloan management review. ISSN: 1532-919453(1), pp.71-77. This article shows the differences between a resource based and a positioning based strategy and when to use which from a strategic perspective. 

Additional Reading:

Porter, M.E., 1980. Competitive strategy: techniques for analyzing industries and competitors. Read this if you want to know more about the foundations of today’s strategic thinking.

Porter, M.E., 2008. Harvard business review. ISSN: 0017-8012, The Five Competitive Forces That Shape Strategy. This is an updated version of the original article listed above.

Week 5 – Competitive Behaviours

The objective of the readings this week is to enable you to identify likely competitors for your company and to describe on what basisi they may be competing with your company.  

Key Reading:  Henry, A. 2018 Understanding Strategic Management (3rd ed.) Oxford, New York: OUP pages 406-408 – chapter 5 on Resource Based View of the Strategy and  chapter 7 Corporate Strategy Johnson, et al, 2017  Fundamentals of Strategy (4th ed.). Harlow: Pearson - Chapter 3 Strategic Capabilities and chapter 5 Business Strategy Additional Reading: 

Barney, J., 1991. Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of management. ISSN: 0149-206317(1), pp.99-120. This is the seminal article developing the idea of a resource based view of a company’s competitive strategy. An additional strategy whereby a company finds a gap in the market where companies are not competing and moves into this area thus opening up new competitive landscape.

Week 6 - Measures of Success - Assessing Organisational Performance

Key Reading: The two key text books for the module don’t cover this week’s topic which I feel is a huge failing on their part. The objective for this week is to understand what the key measures are that you can use to identify how successful or otherwise the company you are studying is. The following references from the BBC is a great introduction to the key figures that help you to check out the health of your company. - this gives a super-fast review of the essential numbers to crunch to get an idea about the health of your company. This is a really short but really useful you tube video (just over 6 minutes) by financial author Rodney Hobson on how to read a company’s financial reports.

Additional Reading: - Watch your company's shares and news for 4 weeks Yahoo Finance - - To watch your company's shares for 4 week  Dobbs, R. and Koller, T., 2005. Measuring long-term performance. The McKinsey quarterly. ISSN: 0047-539416, pp.17-27.

Week 7 - Corporate Growth and Development

The objective for this week is to understand how your company got where it is today. What methods of corporate growth did they use and what is their current strategy they are using to achieve growth.

Key Reading: 

Henry, A. 2018 Understanding Strategic Management (3rd ed.) Oxford, New York: OUP pages 406-408 Chapter 8 – Business Strategy Additional Reading:

Week 8 - International Perspectives

How global is your company? If your company isn’t trading internationally - why?

Key Reading:  Henry, A. 2018 Understanding Strategic Management (3rd ed.) Oxford, New York: OUP pages 406-408 Chapter 8 – International Strategy Johnson, et al, 2017  Fundamentals of Strategy (3rd ed). Harlow: Pearson - Chapter 7 – International Strategy  Additional Reading:  Kudina, Alina, Yip George S., and Barkema Harry G. "Born global." Business strategy review. 19.4 (2008): 38-44.

Week 9 – Hot Topic

Readings to be advised.

Week 10 – Business Ethics (1) – Sustainability

Key Reading:

The objective of this week’s topic is to introduce you to the concept of business ethics. This week’s topic is sustainability. What sustainability actions is your company taking and why?

Neither of the key text books cover this element of the module. A serious omission in my opinion!

Additional reading:

Montiel, I., 2008. Corporate social responsibility and corporate sustainability: Separate pasts, common futures. Organization & environment ISSN: 1086-026621(3), pp.245-269. This article looks at the similarities between CSR and corporate sustainability, concluding that they are converging under the guise of the triple bottom line concept.

Week 11 - Business Ethics (2) - Corporate Social Responsibility Policies and Action.

This is week two of Business Ethics. Tis week you will be looking at Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). What CSR activities does your company undertake and how do you know that they are doing what they report they are doing?

Key Reading: Interestingly only the Johnson book covers this topic in any depth. I think that this is quite a serious omission from the Henry book.

Johnson, et al, 2017  Fundamentals of Strategy (4th ed). Harlow: Pearson - pages 92 & 93

Additional Reading:

Dahlsrud, A., 2008. How corporate social responsibility is defined: an analysis of 37 definitions. Corporate social responsibility and environmental management. ISSN: 1535-395815(1), pp.1-13. This article is referenced in the lecture. The research concludes there are 5 dimensions to CSR. This was written in 2008 – has its findings been updated by further research?

Gjølberg, M., 2009. Measuring the immeasurable?: Constructing an index of CSR practices and CSR performance in 20 countries. Scandinavian journal of management. ISSN: 0956-522125(1), pp.10-22. This is another reference from the lecture. It gets you to think about how to measure CSR.

Rangan, K., Chase, L. and Karim, S., 2015. The truth about CSR Most of these program aren't strategic-and that's OK. Harvard business review. ISSN: 0017-801293(1-2), pp.41-49. Another reference from within the lecture. It argues that companies are already doing this anyway. It gives a framework of 3 theatres within which a company may be practising CSR. You can use this simple framework to identify in what theatre your company is currently operating in for its CSR activities. Think about what it might do in order to move it up into the next theatre of practise?

This list was last updated on 18/12/2018