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2020/2021  KAN-CCMVV1726U  Circular Economic thinking in competitive businesses

English Title
Circular Economic thinking in competitive businesses

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Quarter
Start time of the course Autumn, First Quarter
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 80
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Jesper Clement - Department of Marketing (Marketing)
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Innovation
  • Strategy
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 04-06-2020

Relevant links

Learning objectives
The objective is to provide the student with an opportunity to obtain insights in circular economic thinking based on business models, concepts, theories, cases, and guest lectures by practitioners’ providing hands-on experiences from their circular economic businesses. Further, the learning objective for the course is to enable student to manage competently in a context of multiple stakeholder collaboration, design, innovation and marketing processes with an entrepreneurial circular economic mindset. The student should be able to reflect academically on topics, processes, and work in a cross-disciplinary context. To be awarded with the highest mark (12), the student, with no or just a few insignificant shortcomings, must fulfill the following objectives:
  • Be able to apply relevant models, concepts and theories from the syllabus to a circular economic business case of interest.
  • Identify and analyze the relationships between these models, concepts and theories mutually in relation to the circular economic business case challenges.
  • Critically assess the value of these models, concepts and theories for developing circular economic business innovations and strategies.
Circular Economic thinking in competitive business:
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 Oral group exam based on written group product
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 Report
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
15 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period Autumn
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Re-take exam is to be based on the same report 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.
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

The objective of the course is to give the student a deeper understanding of the competitive possibilities of circular economic principles in business operations. Further to illuminate, the innovative and entrepreneurial business opportunities, by development and marketing of circular product, service and process designs as a competitive strategy compared to the linear take-make-use-waste approach. More precise is circular economic thinking related to “Managing the molecules from the point of sales – not only up to the point of sales”. Thus, business model design strategies for implementation of circular economic principles is a core part of the course. 


The rise of the global consuming class creates a larger pressure on the finite resources challenging a global sustainable production and consumption regime. On July 29th 2019 did the global village meet this limit, a limit that is reached ever earlier each year. Researchers have for the last five decades tried to address the challenges of overshooting the ecological ceiling and shortfalls of the social foundation. Yet the challenges is just recently acknowledged, as market failures of the neo-classical growth economy, which lack incorporation of impact from fossil fuel energy input and use of natural capital as input resource to production and consumption.


In short is the circular economy an economy perspective that is; regenerative and restorative by design, powered by renewable energy, minimizes leakages to incineration and landfills, keeps the resources at highest possible value at all times, demands cross-sectoral collaboration, have a higher complexity than linear business models and value chains and constitute a the potential to decouple monetary economic growth, from growth in virgin resource extraction.   


The EU Commission chaired by Ursula von der Leyen propose that EU must be the world leader in circular economy to be ready for the future in commerce. The Commission outline that a sustainable Europe is one that opens up opportunities, innovates, creates jobs and offers a competitive edge, where the circular economy is highlighted as key in developing the future economic model. Additionally, do the World Economic Forum Davos Manifesto 2020 state that a Company serves society at large through its activities. It act as a steward of the environmental and material universe for future generations, by continuously protecting our biosphere and champion a circular, shared and regenerative economy.


Understanding the strategic and operational opportunities from a managerial perspective to create circular business models with positive returns are therefore needed in new and incumbent companies.


Key business topics include the following related to circular economic thinking:

  • Circular theory in general with related business model opportunities
  • Product, service and business process innovation within the circular economy
  • Multi-stakeholder networks supporting circular economic innovations
  • Entrepreneurship, Design and Business Models for Sustainability
  • The impact of eco-labels, political frameworks and quantification tools
  • The role of incumbents and societal inertia - Lock-In and unlock when creating markets
  • Stakeholder marketing, Ecological sustainability and strategic management
  • Transformation of socio-technical-systems and processes
Description of the teaching methods
The teaching is based on students prepare for class by reading the curriculum papers for the lectures and the literature will then be processed in class by the lecturer, in company with the students. At the start of the course will the students create groups for exams and during the semester will the students present their exam case to get working feedback. The case choice should be relevant in relation to circular economic principles and the syllabus. The aim for the presentations is to clarify topics and areas of challenges related to the exam project.
Feedback during the teaching period
Collective feedback is provided during the course at class in general. Group feedback will be given at the student presentation of exam cases in the 6th lecture.
Student workload
Preperation 123 hours
Teaching 33 hours
Exam 50 hours
Expected literature

To be announced one-two weeks before start of the course.

Last updated on 04-06-2020