98897 - History of Industry and Business (1) (LM)

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in History and Oriental Studies (cod. 8845)

Learning outcomes

The aim of the course is to provide students with a broad outlook of the evolution of the industrial capitalism during the past century. The units of analysis are the great countries industrialized and the different organizational models adopted by their production systems. The main objective is to stress that the changes of industrial systems are unquestionably shaped by institutional, social and economical elements.

Course contents

The object of the course is the firm as the key institution to understand the evolution of the world economy during the last two centuries. The industrial firm is analyzed in a long term perspective to focus on the continuity and change dynamics, the technological evolution and the social and institutional transformations which have left a mark on the development of industrial organization worldwide. A special attention will be reserved to the Italian case.

The main issues that will be discussed are:

- Business history and theory

- The role of the enterpreneur through the interpretations of economists and economic historians: a comparison of the main theories

- Enterprises, the socio-cultural enviroment and the normative framework

- Enterprise financing

- Family businesses and industrial districts

- Other types of business: business groups and alliances; cooperative enterprises

- Technological innovation

- Industrial policy


Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending.

Attending students

Students who attend the lectures are required to submit a paper focusing one of the topics developed in the courses by professor Cantagalli. Bibliographical references will be provided, on a case-by-case basis, by the lecturer during the lectures.

For attending students who have never taken an economic history exam it is recommended to read: A. Di Vittorio (ed.), Dall’espansione allo sviluppo. Una storia economica d’Europa, Torino, Giappichelli, 2011 (or other edition), pp. 203-517.


Non-attending students

Students who don't attend the lectures will have to study the following three readings:

- F. AMATORI, A. COLLI, Industria e impresa in Italia, Venezia, Marsilio, 2003.

- F. AMATORI, A. COLLI, Storia d'impresa, Milano, Bruno Mondadori, 2011.

- G. BERTA, L'enigma dell'imprenditore (e il destino dell'impresa), Bologna, il Mulino, 2018.

Teaching methods

The course will be delivered by lectures aided by slides and photocopies.

Assessment methods

Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending.

Attending students

Students who attend the lectures are required to submit a paper (minimum 50,000 - maximum 60,000 characters) focusing one of the topics developed in the courses by professor Cantagalli.


The evaluation of the paper will consider the student's capacity to make use of sources and bibliography related to the selected topic. For attending students the assessment will take into account also oral presentation (critical skills, clarity, and command of the specific language), dedication and active participation in class and during other students' presentations.

Students who demonstrate to have a global outlook and a good design of the selected topic and to use an appropriate language, will receive an excellent evaluation. Student who write a paper only based on the existing bibliography without making use of sources, will receive an adequate evaluation. Training gaps and / or inappropriate writing, even in a context of minimal knowledge of the subject, will lead to a sufficient evaluation. Training gaps, inappropriate writing, lack of orientation within the bibliographic materials will be evaluated negatively.


Non-attending students 

Students who don't attend the lecture will be evaluated on the basis of an oral exam. They will be asked questions aimed to assess their knowledge of the reading materials. The questions will also aim to evaluate the students' command of the specific language, their critical skills, and capacity of re-organizing the acquired information.


In-depth knowledge of the reading materials, with good analytical and critical skills and command of the specific language will qualify for a good/excellent mark.

Acceptable and more mechanical knowledge of the reading materials, and/or not always appropriate use of the language will lead to a sufficient/fair mark.

Fragmentary knowledge of the reading materials, weak critical skills, and/or insufficient command of the specific language and will lead to a failure or to a pass mark.


This 6 CFU course can be chosen as a part of the 12 CFU Integrated Course "CONTEMPORARY SOCIAL STRUCTURES (C.I.) (LM)". If the student has the Integrated Course (12 CFU) in his/her study plan, the final grade will result from the arithmetic average of the marks obtained in the two parts ("HISTORY OF INDUSTRY AND BUSINESS (1) (LM)" and "HISTORY OF WORK AND PROFESSIONS (1) (LM)").

Teaching tools

Slides, photocopies, handouts and additional readings.

Office hours

See the website of Alessandra Cantagalli