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University of Exeter Business School

Future Trends for International Management

Module titleFuture Trends for International Management
Module codeBEMM171
Academic year2023/4
Module staff
Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description


This module will introduce you to the latest emerging trends affecting business in the 21st century, from a strategic marketing perspective. It will draw upon the work of Patrick Dixon and his investigations into the six faces of global change which include; fast, urban, tribal universal, radical and ethical, which co-incidentally, spell out the word FUTURE (Dixon 2015). We will explore concepts such as sustainability, social responsibility, the implications of changing population dynamics, globalisation, shifting power relations, emerging economies, the impact of the digital economy and tech based innovations. Students will also learn about horizon scanning and use  strategic tools such as PESTEL analysis and others. You will learn about and apply theories and methodologies related to trend spotting, particularly focusing on methodologies applied in future trends forecasting used in the fields of market research, product development and scenario planning. We will examine a variety of case studies. During  seminars we will explore the assessment requirements for this module and offer you support in how to complete them to the best of your ability. On completion of this module you will be well versed in and confident in your ability to comment on: the key trends influencing business management and strategy in the twenty first century.

Additional Information:


This module seeks to give students a broad understanding of future trends analysis and its practical management applications, embedding sustainability principles as the starting premise. Students of this module will learn how future trends are used by: a variety of stakeholders to meet development objectives which are sustainable in the longer term.

All of the resources for this module are available on the ELE (Exeter Learning Environment).


This module examines a variety of case studies from a wide selection of industry sectors. The module will also draw upon the expertise of guest speakers from the commercial and policy worlds. The second summative assignment will be a practical based paper developing your applied management skills and will provide you with useful examples to discuss at interview as well as analysis and report writing skills to apply in your future careers.


This module is designed for delivery for a group of students drawn from around the world. It will draw on your experiences and those of your class peers to help inform understanding in the room about the challenges faced by all economies, governments, societies and businesses, regardless of geographical location, size and ambition. All the case studies will have an international component.


Module aims - intentions of the module

By undertaking Future Trends you will gain an increased understanding of some of the major trends likely to impact upon the fields of business management and development over the coming years, in particular you will learn how organisations and companies use this intelligence to inform future strategy development and planning agendas. The aim of the module is to empower you to become more confident in your ability to engage with debates about how future strategic and operational management approaches need to change in order to adapt to the developing needs of society, the environment and economies, which are constantly affected by changes in the wider PESTEL factors influencing business, government and the third sector. By studying case studies from key sectors such as: health, social services, tech, fashion, transport and tourism, you will develop an appreciation of how certain industries and sectors are adapting their practices in order to take account of changes in the wider operating environment. You will also study some of the methodologies and techniques employed in trend analysis and forecasting, enabling you to develop greater confidence in your analytical skills. In addition, for those who have not studied marketing strategy and theory before,seminars will be run which will cover these areas in order to contextualize and operationalization future trends thinking for those planning to enter the world of business management in the twenty-first century.

By the end of this module you will have the confidence and skills set to be able to engage with: peers, industry professionals, policy makers and fellow academics in an informed manner, secure in the knowledge that you understand some of the future trends influencing society, the environment and the global economy from a future trends and foresight analysis perspective.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. critically consider the origins of the study of, definitions and underlying theories associated with future trends analysis and foresight studies
  • 2. examine a series of case study approaches to how businesses have attempted to incorporate future trends analysis and planning into their everyday management practices
  • 3. develop and design academic arguments around key future trends most likely to impact upon business and management practices in the future
  • 4. develop and design applied business reports looking at how to analyse, operationalise and strategise for the likely impacts of future trends on the challenges facing society, business and the environment on the work of an organization, government body or commercial enterprise

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. analyse the role and need for a critical thinking approach to the study of future trends;
  • 6. critique the use of future trends analysis and it’s applications in applied contexts

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. demonstrate high level research skills drawing upon a range of data sources from both academic and applied contexts
  • 10. draft and present reports and, or presentations using technology and digital literacy skills which would be acceptable in a commercial context
  • 11. utilise skills in rigorous academic analysis, argument development, design and presentation
  • 12. through effective multicultural group work, share ideas and experiences from different disciplines/places/cultures/generations without prejudice and preconception
  • 13. respectfully clarify your own and other’s worldviews through dialogue, and recognize that alternative frameworks exist

Syllabus plan

 Introduction to future trends and foresight studies for International Management – Where are we now? How did we get here? What will the future hold? Why is it important to have an understanding of future trends?

 How government, organisations and companies use future trends analysis for planning

 Methodologies and techniques used to identify, analyze and report future trends

 Fast – the growth of Digital and tech and its implications for management – looking at how Lean/Kazan and Just in time are associated with this trend

 Urban – how people are increasingly concentrated in urban areas, the growth of mega cities and their implications, migration and its impact upon economies and management strategies

 Tribal – the increasing tendency of people to identify themselves as members of certain groups, types, tribes how will this influence marketing communications, service provision and product design?

 Universal – Globalisation or locally specific? What opportunities and challenges does this pose for management strategies and business development?

 Radical – How radical will change need to be? How do we move from the old order to new ways of doing things? The role of innovation and chaos theories in management planning and innovative strategy design

 Ethical – the increasing role of business ethics in designing and implementing new management strategies, which are fundamental to a sustainable future for all.

 Guest speakers drawn from across  sectors such as  health, public services provision, transport, tech, fashion, future trends analysis and tourism

There are additional seminars which augment the teaching delivered in the lecture series and to facilitate formative assessment and support summative assessment.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Contact Hours11 x 2 hourLectures
Contact Hours5 x 1 hourSeminars (Q&A Sessions)
Independent study 96 hours of research and writing for assignment 27 hours of prep for lectures and seminars Research, reading, analysis and writing of assignments. Approx. 2 hours per lecture and one hour per seminar to pre-read lecture/seminar slides and follow through on reading links embedded in the lecture slides as directed by the module lead. On occasion the module lead will direct reading to a specific article which needs reading ahead of a seminar session. Students should have read through the lecture slides ahead of the class in order to be prepared for in class discussions. All slides are available on ELE ahead of class for this purpose.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Plan A bullet pointed plan for the report 1-13Verbal and/or written
EssayA 750 word essay on the application of critical thinking to the study of future trends 5Verbal and/or written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Individually produced applied paper/industry facing report 1003,500 words1-13 Tutor feedback - written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Individually produced applied paper/industry facing report paper Individually applied paper/industry facing report (100%) 3,500 words 1-13 August

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading: (*Denotes Core texts)

  • Chermack, T.J (2011). Scenario Planning in Organizations: How to Create, Use, and Assess Scenarios. Berrett-KoehlerPublishers, San Francisco*
  • Dixon, P (2015). The FUTURE of Almost Everything. Profile Books: London*
  • Dixon, P (2007). Futurewise – Six faces of Global Change. Profile Books, London
  • Hines, A. and Bishop P (Eds) (2007). Thinking about the Future, Guidelines for Strategic Foresight.  Social Technologies LLC, Washington
  • Kim E, Fiore A-M, Kim H (2013). Fashion Trends Analysis and Forecasting. Bloomsbury, London*
  • Raymond M (2014). The Trend Forecaster’s Handbook. Laurence King Publishing, London*
  • Scott-Morgan P. B. (2012). The Reality of our Global Future – How five unstoppable High-Tech trends will dominate our lives and transform our world. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Singh S (2012). New Mega Trends – Implications for Our Future Lives. Palgrave Macmillan, London
  • Tetlock, P. and Gardner, D. (2016) Super forecasting. The art and science of prediction. Random House books: London 

Recommended Journals:

  • Futures
  • International Journal of Forecasting
  • International Journal of Supply Chain Management 
  • Journal of Long Range Planning
  • Strategic Direction

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Will be listed in the handbook

Key words search

Future Trends, Foresight, trends forecasting, sustainable futures, strategy and planning

Credit value15
Module ECTS


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date