Module insight: Business Problem Solutions
Our Business Problem Solutions module (DB551) is a core module for all business management learners across the School of Business and Law. It was originally conceived as a model problem-based learning module, and designed specifically to engage learners at level five in the practice of mixed-group project management, research, reporting and presenting.
Now in its eighth year, the module has evolved into an optimal format of three problems each lasting for three weeks and culminating with a summative presentation. The problems are thematic: finance, economics, and human resource management (HRM)/organisation behaviour (OB).
All set problems have a sustainability theme – part of the module’s evolution – and are cumulative in the development of knowledge from one task to the next. Learners complete the module with a reflective statement about their personal learning.
Societal impact: Business as a force for good
Business Problem Solutions focuses on the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the way the thematic problems are presented. For example, the finance theme encourages learners to investigate progressive investment ratios eg net present sustainable value and social return on investment – both of which are revisited in subsequent themes.
The economics theme draws on the work of Kate Raworth and her critique of growth, defined exclusively in terms of GDP. Learners are invited to think about the quantification of GDP eg if women’s care and nurturing work is fully accounted for. More broadly, learners also consider indicators of human happiness rather than output, some of which is destructive (to society and the natural environment).
The HRM/OB theme examines change and leadership styles that are authentic, not just transactional, where firms are social entities made up of individuals with families, aspirations and expectations eg around inclusivity.
Linking all themes is the belief that firms (and business more generally) are the vehicle for delivering a better world for all.
Learners’ reflective statements are a good indicator of the their experiences. Below are some quotes from the 2022/3 cohort.
Learner one: “I strongly feel that I have profoundly improved the way I present myself, the way I speak, and in general, this module has given me so much confidence. This skill is significantly important for me as presentations and confidence will be vital when working in this sector. If I’m not confident in myself then others won’t be either.”
Learner two: “I have to admit that I have become more confident in presenting and know that if I practised more I could do so much better.”
Learner three: “I enjoyed economics, in particular reading the book ‘Doughnut Economics’ by Kate Raworth for this assignment. What I loved about this book is it grew my interest in sustainability, because it showed me that both growth and an increase in sustainability can be possible at the same time and I did not believe that this was possible. I like that SROI, and the environment were balanced out using Raworth’s theory, whilst providing clear steps on how to achieve it.”
Learner four: “This module was one of the best experiences to help me develop as a future entrepreneur.”
Learner five: “Continuing on with my research, I improved from using Wikipedia and the first link I saw, to using more trusted and reliable sources, such as Forbes, business articles and LinkedIn.”
UN Sustainable Development Goals
Our Business Problem Solutions module (DB551) meets the following UN global goals:
- Decent work and economic growth – standard eight
- Industry, innovation and infrastructure – standard nine
- Sustainable cities and communities – standard 11
- Responsible consumption and production – standard 12
- Climate action – standard 13