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2014/2015  KAN-CCMVV1705U  Sustainable Business Strategy and Innovation

English Title
Sustainable Business Strategy and Innovation

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
Max. participants 70
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Anders Ørding Olsen - Department of Innovation and Organizational Economics (INO)
Administration: Mie Maahr Hegelund - mmh.ino@cbs.dk
Main academic disciplines
  • Business Ethics, value based management and CSR
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Corporate and Business Strategy
Last updated on 11-04-2014
Learning objectives
Upon completing the course, the student should be able to
1. describe, classify and critically discuss the concept of sustainability for products, services, technologies, and business practices,
2. explain the systemic nature of sustainability and the sources of uncertainty and controversy this gives rise to,
3. account for the basic principles of assessing sustainability, such as environmental impact assessment, such as life cycle analysis, cradle-to-crade, carbon accounting, and the triple bottom line,
4. account for the variety of “greentech” innovations and industries and the various ways in which the systemic nature of sustainability manifests in these industries,
5. describe, classify and critically discuss the theories, methods, and models of company strategy and innovation strategy selected for the course (henceforth “theories” for short), both as they apply in general to the “greentech” area and, when prompted, as they would apply to a specific example,
6. apply the theories to a detailed real-world greentech innovation case in the mini-project by presenting relevant facts and context of the case and identifying the key problems, justifying the choice of theories and relevant data, using the theories to analyze the chosen problem, providing tentative managerial implications, and critically reflecting upon the theories used and provide suggestions for extending or combining theories to better fit the problem at hand.
Course prerequisites
The course is open to students in the CBS cand.merc./M.Sc. program or equivalent. Some prior exposure to business strategy and innovation is an advantage but not strictly required.
Sustainable Business Strategy and Innovation:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Oral exam based on written product

In order to participate in the oral exam, the written product must be handed in before the oral exam; by the set deadline. The grade is based on an overall assessment of the written product and the individual oral performance.
Individual or group exam Group exam, max. 4 students in the group
******** TO ELECTIVES ADMIN *********: Exam is identical to previous mini-project exam. Please check formulations accordingly
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
******** TO ELECTIVES ADMIN *********: Exam is identical to previous mini-project exam. Please check formulations accordingly
Assignment type Project
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
20 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period December/January and December/January, To allow coordination with other two courses in the minor: Ø64 and B137
Aids allowed to bring to the exam Closed Book
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content and structure

The urgent need for new technologies, products and processes that are environmentally sustainable (“greentech” for short) will fundamentally alter competitive positions in existing industries and at the same time create new commercial opportunities and entirely new markets and industries.  When considering appropriate strategies for innovation and the theoretical frameworks one might apply to develop them, the question naturally arises: What is special about greentech innovations?  How do they differ from other types of innovations?  What theoretical frameworks can point to appropriate innovation strategies?  This course is about the special challenges and opportunities in developing business strategies and creating innovations where sustainability is the key driver.   
We approach the issue in three different ways: 1) By characterizing and categorizing greentech innovations and comparing them to other types of innovations; 2) by applying selected theories, concepts, models, and methods from the general strategy literature to greentech innovation cases; and 3) by presenting additional approaches specifically designed to address greentech innovations and sustainability strategies. 
The first theme includes alternative concepts of sustainability and tools for measuring environmental impact, the significant role of government regulation, public attitudes, the “green consumer” and other stakeholder influences, barriers and drivers of the green payoffs, underlying causes of current controversies, and the implications of the highly systemic nature of sustainability for implementing green technologies.  Thus, some greentech innovations require complex societal changes in order to succeed in the market place. Electric-drivetrain vehicles (EV’s, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen cars), for example, need a new refueling or recharging infrastructure.  And renewable energy sources require a redesign of the entire system of electricity production, distribution, and consumption to accommodate the intermittent decentralized electricity production. 
The second theme is based on selected theories from the strategy and innovation literature, such as industrial-organization economics (Porter), the resource-based view of the firm, strategic alliances, first- and second-mover advantage, platform strategy, and open innovation, all applied to greentech innovation. 
The third theme presents frameworks specifically addressing sustainable innovation such as the “natural resource based view”, systems thinking and system dynamics, environmental management, and alternative classifications of archetypical greentech strategies. 
Having moved through these three perspectives, we will discuss the current frontier of thinking in greentech innovation strategy and where it is moving.

Teaching methods
The course will combine lectures, in-class discussions, project work, and guest lectures. The first part of the course is primarily focused on theoretical frameworks while the second part focuses on applications and includes guest speakers from companies involved in greentech innovations. Active class participation is expected of you: it will greatly enhance your own learning as well of that of your fellow students. The course includes a mini project focused on a particular greentech innovation case where you will apply the frameworks learned.
Student workload
Class attendance and oral exam 33 hours
Miniproject 80 hours
Reading and preparation 112 hours
Further Information
This course is part of the minor in Sustainable Business”.

Changes in course schedule may occur
Monday 09.50-12.25, week 36-38, 40,41,43-49
Expected literature
(Subject to change)
Literature will be based on electronic downloads rather than a printed compendium (to save paper and retain flexibility).
  • Ambec, S; Lanoie, P (2008): Does It Pay to Be Green? A Systematic Overview Academy of Management Perspectives, 22 (4): 45-62. (18 p). --- Source: EBSCO host: AN 35590353
  • Braungart, M; McDonough, W; Bollinger A, 2007, Cradle-to-cradle design: creating healthy emissions - a strategy for eco-effective product and system design. Journal of Cleaner Production 15: 1337-1348. --- Source: ScienceDirect: http:/​/​dx.doi.org/​10.1016/​j.jclepro.2006.08.003
  • Chesbrough, H (2010) Business Model Innovation: Opportunities and Barriers, Long Range Planning 43(2-3): 354-363 --- Source: ScienceDirect: http:/​/​dx.doi.org/​10.1016/​j.lrp.2009.07.010
  • Chesbrough, H.W. and M.M Appleyard (2007): Open Innovation and Strategy, California Management Review, 50: 57-76. (21 p.) --- Source: EBSCO host: AN 27340265
  • Cusumano, Michael A., and Annabelle Gawer. 2002. The Elements of Platform Leadership. MIT Sloan Management Review 43, no. 3: 51-58. --- Source: EBSCO host: AN 6553425
  • Day, GS; Schoemaker, PJH (2011) Innovating in Uncertain Markets: 10 Lessons for Green Technologies.  Sloan Management Review 52(4): 37-45. --- Source: Download: http:/​/​sloanreview.mit.edu/​files/​saleable-pdfs/​52411.pdf
  • Economist (2010) Wheels when you need them: Car-sharing is becoming big business.  4. September 2010. --- Source: Factiva:
  • Esty, D.C., Winston, A.S. (2009) Why Environmental Initiatives Fail, Ch. 10 in Green to gold: How smart companies use environmental strategy to innovate, create value, and build competitive advantage, paperback edition, Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, p. 235-259. --- Source: PDF file.
  • Fairley, P. (2011) Will Electric Vehicles Finally Succeed? Technology Review Jan/Feb 2011, p. 58-63. --- Source: EBSCO host: AN 61356596
  • Ghosh, S.; Nanda, R. (2011) Venture Capital Investment in the Clean Energy Sector.  Working paper no. 11-020.  Harvard Business School. --- Source: Download: http:/​/​www.hbs.edu/​research/​pdf/​11-020.pdf
  • Hall, J. and H. Vredenburg (2003): The Challenge of Innovation for Sustainable Development, MIT Sloan Management Review, Fall: 61-68. (8 p.) --- Source: EBSCO host: AN 11162971
  • Henningsen, J (2012) EU's Emission Trading System, ETS: A political miracle for the climate or a disaster? Memo, Concito, June 27, 2012. --- Source: Download: http:/​/​www.concito.info/​sites/​concito.dk/​files/​dokumenter/​artikler/​eu_ets_-_climate_policy_miracle_or_disaster_0.pdf
  • IBM (2009) Realizing the potential of a Smarter Planet: Interview with Jon Iwata, IBM Forward View newsletter. --- Source: PDF file.
  • Kates, R., Parris, T. & Leiserowitz, A. (2005). What is Sustainable Development? Environment 47(3): 8-21 --- Source: Download: http:/​/​www.hks.harvard.edu/​sustsci/​ists/​docs/​whatisSD_env_kates_0504.pdf
  • Kiron, D; Kruschwitz, N; Haanes, K; von Streng Velken, I (2012) Sustainablity nears a tipping point.  Sloan Management Review 53 (2): 69-74. --- Source: Download: http:/​/​sloanreview.mit.edu/​feature/​sustainability-strategy/​
  • Kolk, A. and J. Pinkse (2005): Business Responses to Climate Change: Identifying Emergent Strategies, California Management Review, 47 (3): 6-20. (15 p.) --- Source: EBSCO host: AN 17070057
  • Lash, Jonathan, and Fred Wellington. 2007. COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE ON A WARMING PLANET. Harvard Business Review 85, no. 3: 94-102.  --- Source: EBSCO host: AN 23926966
  • Lieberman, M.B. and David B. Montgomery (1988): First-mover advantages, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 9, pp. 41-58. (18 pp.) --- Source: JSTOR: http:/​/​www.jstor.org/​stable/​2486211
  • Lovins, Amory B., L. Hunter Lovins, and Paul Hawken. 2007. A Road Map for Natural Capitalism. Harvard Business Review 85, no. 7/8: 172-183. --- Source: EBSCO host: AN 25358858
  • Manget, J; Roche, C; Münnich, F (2009) 219 BCG 2009 Capturing the Green Advantage for Consumer Companies. BCG Perspectives (report). --- Source: Download: https:/​/​www.bcgperspectives.com/​Images/​BCG_Capturing_the_Green_Advantage_for_Consumer_Companies_Jan_09_tcm80-15407.pdf
  • Mann, Charles C. (2009), Beyond Detroit: On the Road to Recovery, Let the Little Guys Drive, Wired, 17(6). --- Source: Download: http:/​/​www.wired.com/​culture/​culturereviews/​magazine/​17-06/​nep_auto?currentPage=1
  • McKinsey (2010) Impact of the financial crisis on carbon economics: Version 2.1 of the global greenhouse gas abatement cost curve, report --- Source: Download: http:/​/​www.mckinsey.com/​clientservice/​sustainability/​pdf/​Impact_Financial_Crisis_Carbon_Economics_GHGcostcurveV2.1.pdf
  • McKinsey (2011) The fast lane to the adoption of electric cars, McKinsey Quarterly, February. --- Source: Download: http:/​/​www.mckinseyquarterly.com/​The_fast_lane_to_the_adoption_of_electric_cars_2738
  • McKinsey (2011).  The business of sustainablity: McKinsey Global Survey results.  McKinsey Quarterly, October 2011. --- Source: Download: http:/​/​www.mckinseyquarterly.com/​The_business_of_sustainability_McKinsey_Global_Survey_results_2867
  • McKinsey (2012) Mobilizing for a resource revolution.  McKinsey Quarterly.  January 2012. --- Source: Download: http:/​/​www.mckinseyquarterly.com/​Mobilizing_for_a_resource_revolution_2908
  • Morelli, N (2006) Developing new product service systems (PSS): methodologies and operational tools, Journal of Cleaner Production, 14: 1495-1501 --- Source: ScienceDirect: http:/​/​dx.doi.org/​10.1016/​j.jclepro.2006.01.023
  • Nidumolu, Ram, C. K. Prahalad, and M. R. Rangaswami (2009), WHY SUSTAINABILITY IS NOW THE KEY DRIVER OF INNOVATION. (cover story), Harvard Business Review 87, no. 9: 56-64 --- Source: EBSCO host: AN 43831035
  • NovoNordisk (2010) Facing up to the climate change challenge.  Blueprint for change company newsletter, April. --- Source: Download: http:/​/​www.novonordisk.com/​images/​Sustainability/​PDFs/​Blueprint_ClimaChange.pdf
  • Orsato, R.J. (2006): Competitive Environmental Strategies: When Does it Pay to Be Green? California Management Review, 48 (2): 127-143. --- Source: EBSCO host: AN 17070057
  • Porter, M.E. and Kramer, M.R. (2011) Creating Shared Value, Harvard Business Review, 89(1/2): 62-77. --- Source: EBSCO host: AN 56698455
  • Reinhardt, F.L. (1999): Bringing the Environment Down to Earth, Harvard Business Review, July-August: 149-157. (8 p.) --- Source: EBSCO host: AN 1980088
  • Rothenberg, Sandra (2007) Sustainability Through Servicizing. MIT Sloan Management Review 48, no. 2: 83-89 --- Source: EBSCO host: AN 23701517
  • Rotman, D. (2012) Can Energy Startups Be Saved? Technology Review May/June 2012.  (on-line version) --- Source: Download: http:/​/​www.technologyreview.com/​review/​427665/​can-energy-startups-be-saved/​
  • Struben, J; Sterman, JD (2008): Transition challenges for alternative fuel vehicle and transportation systems. Environment and Planning B-Planning & Design, 35 (6): 1070-1097. --- Source: Download: http:/​/​scripts.mit.edu/​~jsterman/​docs/​Struben-2008-TransitionChallengesforAlternativeFuelVehicleandTransportationSystems.pdf
  • Suarez, Fernando, and Gianvito Lanzolla. 2005. The Half-Truth of First-Mover Advantage. Harvard Business Review 83, no. 4: 121-127.  --- Source: EBSCO host: AN 16572727
  • Thøgersen, J (2011) Green Shopping: For Selfish Reasons or the Common Good? American Behavioral Scientist 55(8) 1052-1076. --- Source: Download: http:/​/​abs.sagepub.com/​content/​55/​8/​1052
  • Victor, D.; Cullenward, D. (2007) Making Carbon Markets Work, Scientific American, 297(6) (December): 44-51.  (Extended version on-line). --- Source: Download: http:/​/​www.scientificamerican.com/​article.cfm?id=making-carbon-markets-wor
  • Walker, Brian (2008), You Are Only As Green As Your Supply Chain. Harvard Business Review on-line forum, February 6, 2008. --- Source: Download: http:/​/​www.hbrgreen.org/​2008/​02/​you_are_only_as_green_as_your.html
Last updated on 11-04-2014