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2020/2021  BA-BHAAI1086U  International Business and Sustainability

English Title
International Business and Sustainability

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Bachelor
Duration Summer
Start time of the course Summer
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 120
Study board
Study Board for BSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Henrik Gundelach - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
For academic questions related to the course, please contact instructor (Henrik Gundelach at hg.msc@cbs.dk).
Other academic questions: contact Sven Bislev at sb.msc@cbs.dk
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Globalisation and international business
Teaching methods
  • Online teaching
Last updated on 21/01/2021

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Identify key concepts, frameworks and theories behind international business practices discussed during the course.
  • Use relevant theories and frameworks to analyze challenges and problems associated with implementation of international business practices.
  • Understand and assess the dilemmas and challenges facing the international firm in different contexts and in their role in implementing the sustainability agenda.
  • Discuss how recent developments in the society at large challenge conventional international business practices.
  • Identify, critically assess and apply international business concepts, theories and frameworks to real cases.
Course prerequisites
Open to all bachelor students. Basic knowledge in microeconomics / managerial economics is, however, an advantage.
International Business and Sustainability:
Exam ECTS 7.5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Please see text below
4 hour home assignment. No requirement for maximum number of pages.
Assignment type Written assignment
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Summer, Ordinary exam: 4-hour home assignment in the period of 26–30 July 2021
Retake exam: 4-hour home assignment in the period of 20 – 24 September 2021
3rd attempt (2nd retake) exam: 72-hour home assignment – 22 – 25 November 2021 – for all ISUP courses simultaneously
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

This course is about the international firm and its role in society. We will explore both the firm’s obligation to conduct its business as profitably as possible and at the same time acting responsibly to the society at large.

This intersection between international business (IB) and society is highlighted in the United Nation’s resolution - Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - from 2015: 

“We acknowledge the role of the diverse private sector, ranging from micro-enterprises to cooperatives to multinationals, and that of civil society organizations and philanthropic organizations in the implementation of the new Agenda”.

The first part of this course deals with the various aspects of conducting IB. After an introductory class about IB in the societal agenda, we will spend a good deal of time learning about the foundations for conducting IB, namely, how firms expand internationally, and how they conduct their business outside their home borders. We will obtain a good overview of the essential concepts, theories and analytical frameworks in IB. The textbook for the course endeavours to answer the ‘big question’ posed by the authors: What determines the success and failure of firms around the globe? We will, through the readings and in-class exercises and discussions, dig into the exciting world of IB to find the answers.

During the latter part of the course, we will expand the big question to include: ‘What can IB do to assist in implementing the SDG agenda?’ In-class exercises and discussions will be based on cases, and we will, in particular, focus on the Danish firm, Novozymes and their SDG strategies. We will also work with some ‘live’ cases with representatives from firms who took part in a recent Dansk Industri project: “From philanthropy to business”. Our work will be concentrated around these SDGs: 1: No poverty, 2: Zero hunger, 8: Decent work and economic growth, 12: Responsible consumption and production, and 17: Partnerships for the goals.

The preparation for classes 2 to 8 consists mainly of reading chapters in the textbook, whereas the preparation for classes 9 - 11 will entail casework and group presentations.


The course structure is planned as follows (changes may occur):

Preliminary assignment: Short readings and videos
Class 1:The role of international business in implementing the SDG agenda
Class 2:Globalizing business (Book chapter 1)
Class 3:Formal institutions: Political, economic and legal systems (chapter 2)
Class 4:Informal institutions: Culture, religion and languages (chapter 3)
Class 5:Firm resources: Competitiveness and growth (chapter 4)
Class 6:Investing abroad directly (chapter 6)

Feedback activity: Test exam and individual feedback

Class 7:Starting international business (chapter 11)
Class 8:Foreign entry strategies (chapter 12)
Class 9:Socially responsible international business (chapter 10) and SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals 
Class 10:Socially responsible international business and SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth and SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production
Class 11:Socially responsible international business and SDG 1: No poverty and SDG 2: Zero hunger.

Description of the teaching methods
This year all courses are taught digitally over the Internet. Instructors will apply direct/live teaching through a link (like Skype, Team, Zoom). In some courses, pre-recorded material will also be used.
Feedback during the teaching period
An optional on-line quiz style test and assignment will be made available.
Student workload
Preliminary assignment 20 hours
Classroom attendance 33 hours
Preparation 126 hours
Feedback activity 7 hours
Examination 20 hours
Further Information

Preliminary Assignment: To help students get maximum value from ISUP courses, instructors provide a reading or a small number of readings or video clips to be read or viewed before the start of classes with a related task scheduled for class 1 in order to 'jump-start' the learning process.


Course timetable is/will be available on https://www.cbs.dk/uddannelse/international-summer-university-programme-isup/courses-and-exams


We reserve the right to cancel the course if we do not get enough applications. This will be communicated on https://www.cbs.dk/uddannelse/international-summer-university-programme-isup/courses-and-exams in March 2021.

Expected literature

Mandatory readings:

A few newspaper and magazine articles to read. Watch two related videos, and prepare a short case for an in-class discussion.

International Business by Mike Peng and Klaus Meyer. 3rd Edition, 2019. ISBN: 9781473758438. (to be purchased - further information will be provided on Canvas).

Forcadell, F. J., & Aracil, E. (2019). Can multinational companies foster institutional change and sustainable development in emerging countries? A case study. Business Strategy & Development, 2(2), 91-105

Hansen, M. W., & Gundelach, H. (2020). Turning the Sustainable Development Goals into Business Opportunities. Dansk Industri.

Karnani, A. (2008). Help, don't romanticize, the poor. Business Strategy Review, 19(2), 48-53.

Porter, M. E., & Kramer, M. R. (2011). Creating Shared Value. Harvard business review, 1-13.

Prahalad, C. K., & Hart, S. L. (2002). The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid. Strategy + Business, 26(26), 54-67.

Passion and Strategy: Novozymes' Embrace of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Harvard Business School, 2017 (to be purcheased - further information will be provided on Canvas).

Additional relevant (optional) readings:

Danish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. (2019). The Sustainable Development Goals - A World of Opportunities for Danish Businesses. 

Gestrin, M. V. (2019). The contribution of international business investment to the Sustainable Development Goals: Key actors and recent trends.

IFU - Industrialiseringsfonden for Udviklingslande. (2015). Sustainable Investments - A Handbook for our partners. 

OECD. (2019). Social Impact Investment 2019  - The Impact Imperative for Sustainable Development. 

McKinsey & Company. (2020). Helping create positive, enduring change in the world - Social Responsibility Report 2019.

UNCTAD. (2016). Trading Into Sustainable Development: Trade, Market Access, and the Sustainable Development Goals. United Nations. 

United Nations General Assembly. (2015). Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

Last updated on 21/01/2021