Business Development and Innovation: Introduction (MSB305)

No firm or organization operates in isolation. Rather the contrary is true. Via a multitude of complex relations to other agents and organizations, they are embedded in diverse sets of networks and socio-economic systems. This embeddedness thereby greatly matters for their business success. For instance, it influences their access to critical inputs, such as human and financial capital as well as knowledge. Their embeddedness in local socio-economic systems takes center stage in this. In the end, most job hiring are local, the majority of production inputs are provided by nearby suppliers and marketing as well as distribution channels are strongly shaped by access to transportation infrastructure and the activities of (local) branding initiatives as well as trade associations.

The course presents students with the scientific underpinnings of the beyond-the-individual-firm perspective that are at the heart of modern approaches to business development. Drawing on core concepts and insights from the fields of Regional Science and Economic Geography, as well as Complex System Theories, students will learn about and discuss the roles that locations, networks, and system embeddedness play for businesses and their development. The course thereby forms the basis for the subsequent courses: BDI: The firm perspective and BDI: The policy perspective.

Course description for study year 2022-2023


Course code




Credits (ECTS)


Semester tution start


Number of semesters


Exam semester


Language of instruction



Subject areas that are most likely covered are:
  • Beyond the boundaries of the firm
  • Classical theories of regional development (e.g., agglomeration, urbanization, polarization)
  • Modern theories of regional development (e.g., human capital, evolutionary, institutions, cluster, complexity)
  • Interfirm linkages and spillovers
  • Networks and (social) relations
  • Knowledge- and innovation-based economic development

Learning outcome


  • Upon completion of the course, students will have learned:
    • About different ways that firms are embedded in regional and inter-regional networks of production and learning
    • How and why economic activities locate in various ways in space
    • How and why externalities arise from agglomeration, urbanization and learning networks
    • About the importance of knowledge and innovation for firm and regional development
    • How and why a system- and network-based perspective is crucial to understanding the development of firms, technologies, and territories


  • Students will acquire skills in:
  • Applying multilevel, network, and evolutionary thinking to economic problems
  • Working with contemporary academic literature
  • Summarising academic arguments and studies
  • Leading a discussion on an academic topic
  • Writing a literature review

Required prerequisite knowledge


Recommended prerequisites

Appropriate bachelor background in core business fields.


Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Portfolio 1/1 Letter grades

The course has a folder/portfolio assessment.
• 66 % of the grade from an individual written assignment
• 34 % of the grade from group assignments or presentations.

Coursework requirements

Presence in all classes with group work, Written critical literature review
    •  Presence in all classes in which the student or the group he/she is assigned to plays an active role
    • Complete an assignment, which is to be submitted through Inspera before the deadline.

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator:

Tom Brökel

Course teacher:

Jason Deegan

Study Program Director:

Yuko Onozaka

Method of work

In this course, you will learn through the mixture of lectures, seminars, group work and individual study. Lectures provide the basic knowledge. The seminars are based on group work and are topic focused. They require active preparation and participation.

Each student will be assigned to a group. These groups will play different roles during the semester. Each student has to contribute equally to these roles. The roles include:

  • Reading scientific papers
  • Preparing and sharing written questions and statements about the papers on time
  • Responding to questions during the seminar and actively engaging in it
  • Organizing and contributing to discussions


Lectures: 25 hours

Seminars: 25 hours

Self-study, including assignments: 200-250 hours

Overlapping courses

Course Reduction (SP)
Perspectives on Strategic Innovation (MØA305_1) 10

Open for

All master's study programs at the University of Stavanger.

Course assessment

Students will have the opportunity to give feedback on the course first in an early dialogue, and in multiple course evaluations. 


The syllabus can be found in Leganto