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University of Exeter Business School

History of Black Entrepreneurship

Module titleHistory of Black Entrepreneurship
Module codeBEM2045
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Professor David Boughey (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Little attention is placed on the lives, ingenuity, and impact of black entrepreneurs, managers and business in a standard business school curriculum. This module addresses this issue head-on by focusing on the history of black entrepreneurs, managers and their businesses across the Americas, Africa, and the UK. Our approach is exploratory, rather than about acquiring and repeating a pre-defined curriculum. As such students on this module need to be resourceful and intrepid, as we journey away from canonical business texts and into the forgotten or marginalised but hugely significant reaches of black capitalism.

We’ll examine the black corporate pioneer and financial wizard Charles Spaulding, consider race and the business of sport and culture, the impact of black corporate leaders, giant enterprises from Africa, and the experience of black businesses and their leaders in the UK. 

This is an open module requiring no prerequisites. Enthusiasm, interest in the historical development of businesses and world economic history are more important, but no prior knowledge will be assumed.


This module is not part of the “with Proficiency in Entrepreneurship” pathway.

Module aims - intentions of the module

Expanding and enriching our understanding of the diversity of the business world is our core aim. In focusing on black entrepreneurs and managers, their actions, impact and writing, we aim to gauge and celebrate this corporate endeavour. Our aim is therefore to enable students to discover events, activity and literatures that are not commonly illuminated in our curriculum.

This module is exploratory. Curriculum is not established, textbooks of any breadth are not prominent.

We draw therefore upon the philosophy of a Connected Curriculum where learning is achieved through research and enquiry (Fung, 2017). Fung’s manifesto makes the following claim. “The contention is that the predominant – although not necessarily exclusive – mode of learning for students should be active enquiry and, where possible, engagement with current research that is pushing forward what is known in a particular field. As knowledge does not confine itself to disciplinary boundaries, however, that enquiry should push across traditional subject borders to create new analyses and connections (p.4).”

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Identify and assess the historical impact of black-owned or managed business
  • 2. Compare the experiences and fortunes of black businesses in the Americas, Africa and Europe
  • 3. Appraise why black entrepreneurs and business dont have prominence in business school curricula

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. Collate and interpret data from a variety of primary and secondary sources
  • 5. Apply appropriate management or economic theory to assist in the handling of data

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 6. Organise a research plan to complete the assessment tasks
  • 7. Communicate evidence and interpretation in a compelling and clear manner

Syllabus plan

  • Researching the forgotten history of black entrepreneurship
  • WEB Du Bois, Booker T. Washington and The Negro in Business
  • African American entrepreneurs
  • African American approaches to management
  • Access and markets for African American businesses
  • Rise of the black CEO
  • African enterprises and entrepreneurs
  • Black business and entrepreneurs in the UK

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
Seminars10Core discussion seminars for case material, key articles and primary evidence
Whole class meetings (lectures, guest speakers, discussions)10Primarily used for guest speakers, and whole class discussion, and to outline assessment
Guided Independant Study30Preparation for seminars
Guided independent study100Assessment planning and completion

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Case discussionAs part of seminar discussion1,2,5,7Verbal
Evidence commentariesAs part of seminar discussion1,3,4,6,7Verbal and written by email

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
Essay502000 words1-7Written via e-bart
Research Portfolio (evidence commentaries, infographics and reportage)502000 words1-7Written via e-bart

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-7Next opportunity
Research PortfolioResearch Portfolio1-7Next opportunity

Re-assessment notes

Reassessment follows the same pattern as the original assessment, with only failed assessments reassessed.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

Baradaran, M. (2017).  The color of money: Black banks and the racial wealth gap. Harvard University Press.

Boyd, R. L. (2007). Historically black colleges and universities and the black business elite. Sociological Perspectives 50 (4), 545-560.

Butler, J. S. (2012).  Entrepreneurship and self-help among black Americans: A reconsideration of race and economics. Suny Press.

Feinstein, C. H. (2005).  An economic history of South Africa: Conquest, discrimination, and development. Cambridge University Press.

Fung, D. (2017).  A connected curriculum for higher education. UCL Press.

Hill, L. W., & Rabig, J. (Eds.). (2012).  The business of black power: Community development, capitalism, and corporate responsibility in postwar America. University Rochester Press.

Levy, J. A. (2020). Black Power in the Boardroom: Corporate America, the Sullivan Principles, and the Anti-Apartheid Struggle.  Enterprise & Society,  21 (1), 170-209.

Newman, R. J., & Rosen, J. N. (2014).  Black baseball, black business: Race enterprise and the fate of the segregated dollar. Univ. Press of Mississippi.

Olusoga, D. (2016).  Black and British: A forgotten history. Pan Macmillan.

Prieto, L.C., & Phipps, T.A. (2019). African American Management History. Emerald Points.

Walker, J. E. (2009).  The history of black business in America: Capitalism, race, entrepreneurship (Vol. 1). UNC Press Books.

Wills, S. (2018). Black Fortunes: the story of the first six African Americans who escaped slavery and became millionaires. HarperCollins.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Black History: Black Entrepreneurship; Business History; Economic History

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


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