This programme provides a fresh interdisciplinary approach to the comparative study of capitalist economies – the varieties of capitalism. We compare national institutions and business systems and the major theoretical approaches to understanding their origins and functioning. We draw on insights and research from sociology, political science, economics, history and geography.
The core of the programme is a sequence of 3 compulsory modules. The first of these, Business and Economic History, addresses the historical development of the leading capitalist economies, taking in the role of technology, business organisation, national institutions and empire. The second, Comparative Capitalism, contrasts today’s national business systems with reference to financial markets and corporate control: labour markets, human capital and social insurance; systems of innovation; corporate structure and inter-firm relations; and national systems of government. The third, Comparative Employment Relations, explores differences in collective bargaining, employment rights, industrial conflict and workplace collaboration. We address questions of whether the numerous national systems can be usefully classified into a few distinct types, what comparative advantages particular systems may have in international competition, and what different social groups have won and lost within the different national systems they have developed.
In their option modules, students may extend their studies in one or more of the following areas: economic development and globalization; innovation systems and policy; and corporate governance.
Why study this course at Birkbeck?
- This course is interdisciplinary, drawing on elements of economics, employment relations, political economy and political science.
- It builds on the Department of Management's present research strength in political economy, comparative employment relations and related areas.
- It combines an interdisciplinary approach with in-depth research training in management and provides a strong foundation for PhD research in the area of political economy, comparative varieties of capitalism and business systems where there is no current Master's-level provision.
Careers and employability
This programme will be useful to: students who intend to pursue a career in social, economic or business development policy or advocacy; those who have previously studied business and management and are seeking to round that out with a degree that focuses on the external environment in which business operates; and those who plan to continue to a research degree in the general area of comparative capitalism.