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2019/2020  KAN-CCMVV1739U  Blockchain and Sustainable Digital Infrastructures for Business

English Title
Blockchain and Sustainable Digital Infrastructures for Business

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn, Spring
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 100
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Kristjan Jespersen - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
The Principal Course Instructor is Karim Jabbar. Karim Jabbar (KJ) is a Founding Partner and CTO at Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration. He has a background in international business and over 10 years of experience designing and implementing courses and workshops to various audiences ranging from corporate to executive MBAs. His areas of expertise include Blockchain technology, Lean Start-up methodology, and Open Design and Digital Fabrication. Furthermore, he has experience in international development and has held positions at the Delegation of the European Commission in Cotonou, Benin, and at the Danish Institute for International Studies. Karim holds an M.Sc. in International Business Administration from Copenhagen Business School and is currently doing doctoral work at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Copenhagen. His research focuses on industry applications of Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. Karim Jabbar is an External Lecturer at the Department of Management, Society and Communication.
Main academic disciplines
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Information technology
  • Management
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 02-04-2020

Relevant links

Learning objectives
  • - Understand the underlying principles, which make Blockchain a trustless peer-to-peer sys-tem that is immutable and censorship resistant, and why this is important for business.
  • - Have and overview over different Blockchain implementations ranging from private and permissioned Blockchains, to public and open Blockchains, and their implications for stra-tegic business choices and outcomes.
  • - Have an overview over current Blockchain implementations that are relevant for specific sectors, firms and lines of business.
  • - Demonstrate of when a Blockchain could be a useful solution, and when it is not so. In other words: ability to demystify Blockchain in the context of specific business cases!
  • - Be able to demonstrate their understanding of the challenges and opportunities for business, particularly in designing domain-specific sustainable digital infrastructures that are interop-erable with existing infrastructures, and that allow for the further development of applica-tions by a broad range of actors.
  • - Understand the complexities of building a Blockchain infrastructure that is constantly in the making and does not have a final state, and the implications of these complexities on busi-ness opportunities and challenges.
  • - Understand the importance of community and ecosystem development (e.g. consortia and collaborations) for Blockchain solutions to be viable, hereunder the importance of using the right incentive structures both within and outside the chosen Blockchain protocol.
Course prerequisites
The course is open to all students interested in the role of innovative technologies that work support sustainable business.
Blockchain and Sustainable Digital Infrastructures for Business:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Group exam
Please note the rules in the Programme Regulations about identification of individual contributions.
Number of people in the group 2-4
Size of written product Max. 20 pages
Definition of number of pages:
Groups of
2 students 10 pages max.
3 students 15 pages max
4 students 20 pages max

Note that the exam is a group exam. If you are not able to find a group yourself, you have to address the course coordinator who will place you in a group.

Students who wish to have an individual exam might be able to write a term paper in the course. Please see the cand.merc. rules for term papers for more information
Assignment type Project
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period Winter and Summer
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
* if a student is absent from the oral exam due to documented illness but has handed in the written group product she/he does not have to submit a new product for the re-take.
* if a whole group fails the oral exam they must hand in a revised product for the re-take.
* if one student in the group fails the oral exam the course coordinator chooses whether the student will have the oral exam on the basis of the same product or if he/she has to hand in a revised product for the re- take.
Description of the exam procedure

Students are asked to analyze and challenge the topic using some of the analytical frameworks discussed in class and to come up with well-reasoned recommendations for business model development. The project deliverables will be a team presentation in a “pitch” format, as well as a written report per team of a maximum of 20 pages. The team presentation is not graded per se, but doing it, and getting the topic as well as quality of the analysis approved by the course instructor, is mandatory and a prerequisite for being able to hand in the written report.  Grading will follow the Danish 7-point scale.  

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach



In 2008 an anonymous person or group under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto unleashed the Bitcoin protocol on the Internet, which allows for peer-to-peer exchange of digital cash without the need for a trusted third party. The technical underpinning of this system, known as Blockchain has uses that extend far beyond the realm of cryptocurrency and finance, and well into the domain of sustainability broadly defined. In fact, it is argued that Blockchain can be seen as an emerging open protocol layer on the internet on which a whole range of innovative solutions can be created ranging from supply chain, trade finance, sustainability reporting, and crowdfunding, to distributed energy production, digital carbon markets, and local exchange platforms. There is almost not a day without a new use case for blockchain being announced: Blockchain is indeed the new black! … or is it simply at the stage of overinflated expectations?


Blockchain is technologically complicated to wrap one’s mind around, and its implications for societal structures is profound. While the specific technical components of Blockchain have been known for a long time, i.e. distributed databases, cryptography, and consensus protocols, their specific combination has generated a new type of technology that could allow for radically new ways of doing business, as well as potential disintermediation of established actors in virtually every industry. Rather than jumping on the band wagon, or dismissing the technology as a fad, this course will allow future business leaders to demystify the technology, and get a nuanced understanding of the opportunities as well as challenges associated with this emerging technology for the private sector. Particularly, business students will acquire valuable knowledge when it comes to designing sustainable digital infrastructures that promote the emergence of a new sort of global public good (or commons), on which new software applications and disruptive business models can emerge.


The course places itself at the intersection of technology and business, and while being theoretically framed draws on specific empirical cases that will be explored in depth both in term of understanding the related industry and challenges, as well as getting insight into the specifics of designing technological solutions that both contributes to business success as well as the creation of new collaborative digital infrastructures that can promote sustainability agendas in an open and democratic fashion. Not a straight-forward exercise as we will see!!  


This is not an exclusive class where programmers can develop new Blockchain applications. Instead, this is a strategically designed business class for professionals looking to demystify what is the notion of Blockchain and how it can be applied to various types of firms, industries and business cases. 

Description of the teaching methods
Teaching Style and Methods:

The course is designed with a flipped classroom set-up in mind. A blended learning strategy is employed to reverse the traditional learning environment by delivering a large portion instructional content through online means (outside of the classroom).

Our student-centered approach to teaching will generate:
• Knowledge/competences about theory/models/tools for understanding the evolution of Block-chain;
• Knowledge/competencies in reading and analyzing scientific literature;
• Presentation and discussion skills;
• Analytical skills; and
• Knowledge/competences in writing a final project report.

Development of additional personal competencies linked to applied and project related characteristics of this course:
• Knowledge/competences in identifying, developing and evaluating ideas for Blockchain powered applications and technology stacks;
• Competences in innovative methods on how best to present, to develop and to integrate such business recommendations focused on Blockchain and sustainable digital infrastructures; and
• Competencies in sustainability/​Blockchain case analysis and development;
Feedback during the teaching period
Students will receive feedback in the following forms

1.) In class feedback based on the classroom discussions
2.) Digital feedback in response to emails
3.) Exam feedback following the exam
Student workload
Lectures and Preparation 100 hours
Group Meetings 36 hours
Writing final consulting report 45 hours
Exam 25 hours
Further Information

Who is this class for:

This course is for business students who have a clearly expressed interest in emerging technologies and the opportunities that such technologies might create in terms of future business models, governance models and sustainability practices. Students should take this course if they believe that business can be a force for good, and they are interested in applying technology as a driver for change in that direction. 

Expected literature

Atzori, M. (2015). Blockchain technology and decentralized governance: Is the state still necessary?.


Conoscenti, M., Vetrò, A., & De Martin, J. C. (2016). Blockchain for the Internet of Things: A systematic literature review.


Greenwood, R., Suddaby, R., & Hinings, C. R. (2002). Theorizing change: The role of professional associations in the transformation of institutionalized fields. Academy of management journal45(1), 58-80.


King, J. L., Gurbaxani, V., Kraemer, K. L., McFarlan, F. W., Raman, K. S., & Yap, C. S. (1994). Institutional factors in information technology innovation. Information systems research5(2), 139-169.


Kosba, A., Miller, A., Shi, E., Wen, Z., & Papamanthou, C. (2016, May). Hawk: The blockchain model of cryptography and privacy-preserving smart contracts. In Security and Privacy (SP), 2016 IEEE Symposium on (pp. 839-858). IEEE.


Kohli, R., & Grover, V. (2008). Business value of IT: An essay on expanding research directions to keep up with the times. Journal of the association for information systems9(1), 23.


Kramer, R. M., & Tyler, T. R. (Eds.). (1996). Trust in organizations: Frontiers of theory and research. Sage.


Laudon, K. C., & Laudon, J. P. (2011). Essentials of management information systems. Upper Saddle River: Pearson.


Melville, N., Kraemer, K., & Gurbaxani, V. (2004). Information technology and organizational performance: An integrative model of IT business value. MIS quarterly28(2), 283-322.


Suddaby, R., & Greenwood, R. (2005). Rhetorical strategies of legitimacy. Administrative science quarterly50(1), 35-67.


Suddaby, R., Cooper, D. J., & Greenwood, R. (2007). Transnational regulation of professional services: Governance dynamics of field level organizational change. Accounting, Organizations and Society32(4), 333-362.


Swan, M. (2015). Blockchain: Blueprint for a new economy. " O'Reilly Media, Inc.".


Tapscott, D., & Tapscott, A. (2016). Blockchain Revolution: How the technology behind Bitcoin is changing money, business, and the world. Penguin.


Wattenhofer, R. (2016). The science of the blockchain. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.


Zyskind, G., & Nathan, O. (2015, May). Decentralizing privacy: Using blockchain to protect personal data. In Security and Privacy Workshops (SPW), 2015 IEEE (pp. 180-184). IEEE.

Last updated on 02-04-2020