Innovating Business Models in Emerging Economies

Module description

This module seeks to explain how the specific context of socio-cultural and institutional conditions of developing countries has an impact on the ways business models are crafted. The objective of this module is to provide an alternative method of strategy-thinking, which directly addresses the human development concerns – poverty, inequality, health, education and freedom. It offers a distinctive way of designing ethical, inclusive, and sustainable business models whilst considering the unique conditions of developing countries. Specifically, you will debate and analyse whether particular enterprises address the demand of the “base of the pyramid” population in a sustainable and ethical manner. You will learn the theories that explain the causes and challenges of global poverty and inequality, and apply these theories in the analysis of case studies to ascertain whether the efforts of specific inclusive business innovation can be successful or not, in which context.

Additional Information:


The internationalisation dimension is essential in this module as the key topics provide knowledge to understand the sociocultural contexts of developing countries, and why such understandings are significant for inclusive business innovation.

External Engagement

Guest speakers, from the international development sectors (such as the World Bank, Open Government Initiative, UNICEF), will contribute to the seminars and evening events. 


The module is an opportunity to critically reflect upon the relationship between business and society, and to develop practical skills to make sense of the contextual complexity, as well as the leadership skills to generate positive impacts through business development. These skills have been highly valued by global corporations, international organizations and governments.

Ethics and Corporate Responsibility

The module is part of the important effort to promote social responsibility in business education, especially in the fields of innovation and entrepreneurship. It asks the students to reflect upon the ‘For-Profit’ nature of enterprise development, the role of technological innovation in society and explores the possibilities of developing successful innovation for the poor and generating positive social change, rather than purely for business profits.

Research in Teaching

Much of the workshop input, lecture notes, and key readings are based on the lecturer’s own research (innovation policy and developing countries). Students are encouraged to base their own research upon existing research literature, in preparation for the final essay assessment. 

Full module specification

Module title:Innovating Business Models in Emerging Economies
Module code:BEMM140
Module level:M
Academic year:2016/7
Module lecturers:
  • Dr Boyi Li - Convenor
Module credit:15
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 2:


Module aims

This module aims to provide the necessary knowledge and skills to think about business opportunities in context. It encourages you to evaluate the global diversity and complexity of socio-cultural and institutional conditions in developing countries, and use your country-specific insights to develop sustainable business models. Specifically, the module introduces the theories of development studies (development economics, institutional stakeholders, globalisation etc.) and will enable you to understand the causes and challenges of key developmental concerns – poverty, inequality, health, governance and social justice. You will learn how the social entrepreneurs and multinational corporations are developing and running inclusive business that improves the living conditions of the poor in developing countries.

The module invites you to critically reflect upon the relationship between business and society, and to develop practical skills to make sense of the contextual complexity, as well as the leadership skills to generate positive impacts through business development. These skills have been highly valued by those employers of global corporations, international organizations and governments.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. critically analyse development theories
  • 2. critically evaluate a country-specific context using frameworks of development theories
  • 3. critically evaluate the roles of business enterprises to solve social problems (inequality, poverty, gender, education)
  • 4. demonstrate the skills to develop and pitch innovative business models that address the inclusive and sustainable concerns.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. critically analyse and evaluate complex socio-economic issues in developing countries
  • 6. apply the knowledge of business models innovation and entrepreneurial skills into real context
  • 7. demonstrate an ability lead positive change in society, leadership skills.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. analyse complex business situations by synthesising a variety of sources and pitch solutions
  • 9. apply strategic thinking to develop enterprise and to generate positive impacts in professional ways.

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
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Formal lectures (11x 2 hour lectures)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching11Seminars – (11x 1 hours)

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Debate15 mins1-9Verbal
Discussion15 mins1-9Verbal
Presentation10 mins1-9Verbal/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
Group Project with Presentation403500 words1-9Written/ Verbal feedback
Individual Essay602500 words1-9Written feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Group Project with PresentationIndividual Business Report (2000 words) 1-9July/August
Individual EssayIndividual Essay (2500 words)1-9July/August

Re-assessment notes

A student will be referred in all components if the student fails the module with a mark of below 50% overall.

A student if deferred in a single component will be reassessed in that component only.

Syllabus plan

  • Introduction: Charactering Developing Context
  • What is development? And what does it mean for business?
  • Institutional Actors in Developing Context
  • Technology transfer and Business Opportunities
  • Global Production Networks - Global Sourcing and its Discontents
  • Governing the Market: how to innovate with the governments
  • Network Society: the world is flat?
  • Beyond G7 and WTO: Emerging Trade Blocs and Its Consequences
  • Responsible Innovation: Climate Change and Global Sustainability
  • Crafting Business Models in Developing Context – Essential Dilemmas


Each component sheds light on a specific dimension of the development efforts of developing countries, which focuses on the issues of how business enterprises are addressing these concerns by adapting to the contextual situations.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

Deaton, A (2013): The Great Escape: Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality (Princeton University Press).

Sen, A (1999) Development as Freedom, Oxford University Press

Yunnus, M (2011) Building Social Business, PublicAffairs

Soman, D, Stein, J, Wong, J (2014) Innovating for the Global South: Towards an Inclusive Innovation Agenda, University Toronto Press

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Web based and electronic resources:

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Other resources:

Ramani, S (2014) Innovation in India: Combining Economic Growth with Inclusive Development, Cambridge University Press

Avgerou, C, Li, B (2011) Exploring the Socio-Economic Structures of Internet-Enabled Development: A Study of Grassroots Netrepreneurs in China, The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries (EJISDC), Vol 49

Avgerou, C (2002) Information Systems and Global Diversity, Oxford University Press

Brautigam, D (2011) The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa, Oxford University Pres

Castells, M. (2006) Mobile Communications and Society: A Global Perspective, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Chang, H (2002) Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective: Policies and Institutions for Economic Development in Historical Perspective, Anthem Press

Heeks, R. (2009) The ICT4D 2.0 Manifesto: Where Next for ICTs and International Development?, Development Informatics Working Paper no.42, Centre for Development Informatics, University of Manchester, UK.

Prahalad, C. (2004) Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profits, Pearson Education.

Wade, R (1990) Governing the Market: Economic Theory and the Role of Government in East Asian Industrialisation, Princeton University Press

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