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SDG331 History of Technology and Business in perspective of sustainability

Course description for academic year 2022/2023

Contents and structure

This course has two core topics: economic history and history of technology

This course highlights the interconnections between the economy and technology. The historical perspective promotes insights into continuity and change of the features and conditions of the economy. Overall, this course has a global outlook, with a special emphases on the transnational links between "Vestland", Norway and the rest of the world. A special emphasis is laid on transitions from one economic regime - its energy systems, organizational forms and business models - to a new economic regime. Which conditions, innovations, political and legal frameworks a green and sustainable economic transitions needs will structure the historical approach.

The part on economic history will take an institutional approach, displaying both drivers of institutional change and variations in institutional setups. Moreover, this part highlights variations in governance of economic activity in time and space, variations in how business is organized, and between private and public governance. Drivers of globalization, as well as deglobalization, is emphasized particularly.

In history of technology, a multi-level-perspective sets the stage to analyse under which conditions niche innovations and technologies can rise to be a central part of a society’s socio-technical regime. An integral part is to trace previous energy transitions from the pre-modern systems to the modern fossil-fueled energy transitions in order to discuss how to successfully manage a green energy transition now. Moreover, in this multi-level perspective approach, the current robotization and digitalization - often labelled "industry 4.0" - will be put into historical perspective.

The course is a part of the The Norwegian West Coast SDG Educational Initiative at The Faculty of Business Administration and Social Sciences:  Sustainable Economics, Management and Innovations (SEMI).

Learning Outcome


  • Broad knowledge of concepts and theories about varieties of capitalism, globalization, financialization, economic growth and sustainability.
  • Knowledge about challenges to economic governance in a globalized economy, as well as discussions on regulations of financial markets, and alternative economic models emphasizing sustainability.
  • Broad knowledge about central concepts and theories about social, economic and technological change, including energy transitions.
  • Knowledge about global and Norwegian history of technology, including socio-technological regimes and how to organize for technological change.


  •  Know how to use scholarly concepts and researchs results within economic history and history of technology in project work.
  •  Know how to find, assess and refer to information and research, and are able to use such findings in order to illuminate current issues related to economy, technology and organizations in economic analyses.
  •  Able to delibarate, discuss and apply the UN’s sustainable goals in organizational settings and projects put into a historical perspective.

General competence:

  • Insight and understanding of business cycles, economic crises and the crises impact on innovation and economic growth
  • Insight into theories on circular economy and green economic growth.
  • Ability to plan and perform varied and long-lasting projects, both independently and as part of a group or team, and to do so in compliance with ethical norms and guidelines.
  • Ability to present central issues, theories and solutions both orally and in writing, as well as other appropriate forms of expression.
  • Ability to deliberate and exchange points of view and experiences with both professional peers and laypeople, and in so doing contribute to promote good and sound practice.

Entry requirements


Teaching methods

Lectures, seminars and group work

Compulsory learning activities

There are two work requirements:

1. Group- based assignment: presentation of an article or a chapter for the rest of the class.

2. Group-based assignment: essay

Both work requirements must be passed to be able to take the exam

Approved work requirements are valid for 3 subsequent semesters.


Partial examination with an essay and a 5-hour written individual school examination.

Written individual examination constitutes 60% of final grade, and essay constitutes 40%. Both parts must be passed to get a grade in the course.

Grading scale A-F where F is fail. 

Examination support material

Essay: all aids allowed

Written school exam: none 

More about examination support material

Course reductions

  • ESB331 - Økonomisk og teknologisk historie - Reduction: 7.5 studypoints