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2014/2015  KAN-CCBLV3003U  Corporate Social Responsibility in Action: A Path to Sustainable Development?

English Title
Corporate Social Responsibility in Action: A Path to Sustainable Development?

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Course period Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Min. participants 40
Max. participants 70
Study board
Study Board for BSc og MSc in Business, Language and Culture, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Peter Lund-Thomsen - MSC
Course administrator: Tove Pedersen (tpe.stu@cbs.dk)
Main academic disciplines
  • Business Ethics, value based management and CSR
  • Globalization, International Business, markets and studies
  • Supply Chain Management and Logistics
Last updated on 09-04-2014
Learning objectives
At the end of the course students should be able to
- explain key CSR concepts covered in most of the course readings
- analyze how economic, cultural and social conditions in developing countries influence how CSR approaches are operationalized on “the ground”.
- assess how the implementation of CSR policies affects the income, work and environmental conditions of local producers, workers, and communities in developing countries and countries in transition.
- critically appraise how different global production network/global value chain approaches may be used to explain the income, work, and environmental conditions of local producers, workers, and communities across Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Course prerequisites
The most important qualification you need to participate is intellectual curiosity and a willingness to examine and challenge your own assumptions about what CSR is, and how it works in developing country contexts. Students returning from or intending to undertake internships or fieldwork in the broad area of business and development studies might find the “hand-on” approach of this course particularly useful.
Corporate Social Responsibility in Action: A Path to Sustainable Development?:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual
Size of written product Max. 10 pages
Assignment type Written assignment
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period December/January
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content and structure

A lot of the management-oriented literature on CSR that is taught in business schools around the world focuses on the different management strategies that companies use to promote CSR. Much of this literature assumes that CSR policies positively influence economic, social, and environmental conditions in developing countries. However, a number of recent impact studies have shown that the gains accruing to local producers, workers, and communities from the implementation of CSR policies in global production networks can at best be described as limited. Against this background a new CSR paradigm seems to be emerging. This involves a review of buyer purchasing practices, economic, social, and environmental upgrading of supplier factories,  increased use of civil society monitoring and labor agency, joint action CSR approaches implemented in industrial districts and engagement in multi-stakeholder partnerships to enhance the positive impact of CSR policies implemented in global production networks.
In this course, we will explore whether this new CSR paradigm really constitutes a new path to sustainable development? Sustainable development is here understood as the integration of economic, social, and environmental concerns in the policy-making in public and private actors in ways that improve the incomes, labor, and living conditions of local producers and workers while reducing environmental pollution from developing country firms. We will be do this by comparing and integrating theories of global economic organization, local economic development strategies, and the adoption of particular CSR approaches in order to explain the income, work, and environmental conditions of local producers and workers in developing country export industries. In practice, we will examine how CSR policies are structured from the top-down in global production networks (using examples from the football, garment, forestry or other industries) and the bottom-up in local economic, social, and cultural contexts in developing countries, primarily in Asia but also in Africa and Latin America.

Teaching methods
Mostly, the first part of each class will be devoted to a practical, case or video-based exercise and subsequent discussion of a real-life CSR and development dilemma. The use of small group discussions is employed to promote individual learning and common points are subsequently discussed in a plenary forum. During the second part of each class this is followed by a more traditional lecture-based presentation of the potential, limits, and impacts of each CSR issue covered in that session. Students may also be asked to prepare in groups at home in order to be able to take part in a discussion of CSR dilemma cases in the next class session. Invited guest lecturers who are working directly with the topics covered in the course will also contribute to the students’ understanding of the real-world challenges faced by CSR and development practitioners.
Further Information

Changes in course schedule may occur
Friday 09.50-12.25, week 36-41, 43-46

Expected literature

The course readings amount to around 800 pages, and you will be required to buy two-three course readers from Academic Books, Solbjerg Plads Campus, 2000 Frederiksberg which should be available by early September 2014. Mostly, the course readings consist of recent literature on CSR as it applies to developing country contexts. We have indicated some of the texts that we are likely to include in the course curriculum below.

Khan, F. and Lund-Thomsen, P. 2011, “CSR As Imperialism – Towards a Phenomenological Approach to CSR in the Developing World”, Journal of Change Management, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 73-90.
Lund-Thomsen, P. Labor Agency in the Football Manufacturing Industry of Sialkot, Pakistan. Geoforum, vol. 44, no. 1, 2013, pp. 71-81.
Oxfam, 2010. Better Jobs in Better Supply Chains, Briefings for Business no. 5, Oxfam, Oxford.
Neilson, J. and B. Pritchard, 2009. ‘Chapter One – Introduction, in Neilson, J. and B. Pritchard, Value Chain Struggles – Institutions and Governance in the Plantation Districts of South India, pp. 1-26                                      
De Neve, G. Forthcoming. Entrapped Entrepreneurship: Labour Contractors in the South Indian Garment Industry. Modern Asian Studies.

De Neve, G. Forthcoming. ’Fordism, Flexible Spcialization, and CSR: How Indian garment workers critique neo-liberal labor regimes, Ethnography.
Ruwanpura, KN. & Wrigley, N. 2011. The Costs of Compliance: Views of Sri Lanka Manufacturers in Times of Global Economic Crisis, Journal of Economic Geography, vol. 11, no. 6, pp. 1031-1049.                            

Last updated on 09-04-2014