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2017/2018  KAN-CSOCV1023U  Re-visiting the Commons, Re-imagining Collectives

English Title
Re-visiting the Commons, Re-imagining Collectives

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Mandatory offered as elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Quarter
Start time of the course Second Quarter
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Social Sciences
Course coordinator
  • Ida Lunde Jørgensen - MPP
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Organization
Last updated on 18-04-2017

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors: By the end of the course, students should be able to:
  • Account for the main theoretical approaches to governance of the commons and to Institutional Entrepreneurship, including their potential and limitations
  • Challenge the boundaries of current ways of governing the commons and organizing collectives
  • Apply the different theoretical approaches to the challenges of contemporary society and discuss their limitations and potential expansions
  • Identify the potentials and shortcomings of the various attempts to re-visit the commons and re-imagine collectives
  • Be able to identify and account for their choice of a relevant case
  • Be able to unfold strengths and weaknesses associated with the main theoretical approaches in the context of a case-study
Course prerequisites
This course is offered as part of the Minor in Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Business. Other courses in this minor are "Re-imagining Capitalism" and "Re-imagining Environmental Entrepreneurship".

The course can be taken as a separate elective, but students will benefit from taking it together with the minor’s two other electives.
Re-visiting the Commons, Re-imagining Collectives:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Written sit-in exam on CBS' computers
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Assignment type Case based assignment
Duration 4 hours
Grading scale Pass / Fail
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Aids Open book: all written and electronic aids, including internet access
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
If the number of registered candidates for the make-up examination/re-take examination warrants that it may most appropriately be held as an oral examination, the programme office will inform the students that the make-up examination/re-take examination will be held as an oral examination instead.
Course content and structure

This course familiarizes students with theories that take an interdisciplinary approach to and explores alternative ways of organizing.


The first block – Re-visiting the Commons - takes a point of departure in the work of political scientist Elinor Ostrom, winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in economics. Her work offers a novel insight into what happens when both private sector firms and public sector organizations fail to organize collective goods (water, forests, fisheries) effectively, and how communities organize to solve their own problems—with varying degrees of success. Ostrom’s scholarship invites us to approach organizations in the broadest sense of the term, allowing us to analyze the limitations of the corporate organizational form and engage with cases where other forms of organizing seek to address those shortcomings. Against the backdrop of Ostrom’s scholarship, we will explore alternative forms of organizing: Informal networks, temporary coalitions and partnerships that fall under neither market nor hierarchy and that have proven highly productive.


The second block – Re-imagining the Collectives - picks up where the first block left and explores alternative organizational forms further. Taking institutional theory as a starting point, it engages with the critique launched at institutional theory that rather than assigning entrepreneurship to single – often heroic – individuals, it should be considered the result of collective endeavors. Engaging with institutional theory and its critics, we’ll explore creative collectives and their innovative potential working with cases of social and cultural entrepreneurship including: The shared economy; co-creation in the public sector critically exploring the roots to and creation of public value, and finally art movements analyzing the political role of art in society.


The course combines a variety of methods, ranging from traditional lectures, case studies, dialogue-based teaching, student debates, and group presentations. Students are expected to participate actively in class.



The present course is part of the series Advanced Studies Electives. It addresses students in the last year of their masters who are looking for inspiration for their master theses. The course will introduce cutting-edge research in the field of Institutional Entrepreneurship, Governance in the context of the Commons, Community Economies, including state-of-the-art research debates and questions for potential master theses. 


The course is part of the Minor in Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Business. Although the course can be taken as a separate elective, students will benefit from taking it together with the Minor’s two other electives: “Re-imagining Capitalism” and “Re-imagining Environmental Entrepreneurship”.

Teaching methods
The course combines a variety of methods, ranging from traditional lectures, case studies, dialogue-based teaching, student debates, and group presentations. Students are expected to participate actively in class.
Feedback during the teaching period
Collective feed-back in class with the possibility of individual feed-back during office hours.
Student workload
Forberedelse individual/group 170 hours
Lecture 12 hours
Dialogue 12 hours
Case work 8 hours
Exam 4 hours
Expected literature

Ostrom, Elinor. 1990. Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Olsen, Mancur. 1971. The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups. Cambridge (Mas.): Harvard University Press

Jessop, Bob. 2002. The Future of the Capitalist State. Cambridge: Polity Press

Moore, Mark. 1995. Creating Public Value: Strategic Management in Government. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Le Grand, Julien. 2003. Motivation, Agency and Public Policy of Knights & Knaves, Pawns & Queens. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Alford, John. 2009. Engaging public sector clients. From service-delivery to co-production. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Fligstein, Neil and McAdam, Doug. 2012. A theory of Fields. New York: Oxford University Press

Powell, Walter and DiMaggio, Paul (eds.) 1991. The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis. Chicago: Chicago University Press

Lawrence, Thomas et. al. (eds.) 2009. Institutional Work: Actors and Agency in Institutional Studies of Organizations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


The course literature consists of chapters from the above listed volumes and furthermore journal articles that engage with specific cases.

Last updated on 18-04-2017