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2021/2022  BA-BHAAV5003U  Introduction to Sustainable Business

English Title
Introduction to Sustainable Business

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Bachelor
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn, Spring
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 50
Study board
Study Board for BSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Lindsay Whitfield - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Globalisation and international business
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 14-12-2021

Relevant links

Learning objectives
The students should be able to demonstrate:
  • Describe and critically discuss concepts, theories and frameworks related to the broader debate around Corporate SUstainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
  • Analyse and critically assess a company’s understanding of its sustainability policies, practices, and strategies against concepts, theories, and frameworks of shared value creation for business and society.
  • Identify and critically assess how a company engages with its stakeholders to develop and implement a sustainability strategy
  • Develop well-argued recommendations for a company to improve its sustainability commitments, and to contribute value to society
Course prerequisites
Introduction to Sustainable Business:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 5 pages
Assignment type Case based assignment
Duration 24 hours to prepare
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter and Summer
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
A new assignment must be submitted on the basis of new examination text.
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Course content and structure

The course is an introduction to sustainable business with a focus on firms’ environmental and social impact on society. It provides students with an understanding of business sustainability, Corporate Social (Ir)Responsibility (CSiR), shared value and the triple bottom line. The course addresses stakeholder approaches to strategic management, sustainable supply chains, social and environmental management systems, CSR/sustainability reporting and socially responsible investment in a global context. 


Students will obtain knowledge about how corporations integrate social and environmental issues in order to identify new business opportunities, communicate (and collaborate) with their stakeholders, compete in global markets, and address sustainability expectations and requirements of firms in the early 21st century. Beside introducing a number of sustainability issues (in companies of various sectors), the course provides students with analytical skills and theories to critically interrogate sustainability ideals and practices. 
Sustainable business and CSR concerns the governance of environmental, social and economic aspects. In a world where corporate reputation is essential to the success of business, CSR and its focus on stakeholder dialogue and responsible business development can enhance the market share of enterprises. CSR/sustainability strategies may include optimization of operational efficiency to increase workplace productivity (human resource management) and to reduce costs associated with environmental or social risks (risk management), e.g., in global supply chains. The course develops students’ competencies with regard to govern such new business opportunities to the advantage of the corporations. 
The course rests upon a stakeholder view of the corporation. Its central proposition is that organizational wealth is created (or destroyed) through a corporation's interaction and communication with its stakeholders. Emphasis will be given to characterizing and discussing what constitutes as effective stakeholder engagement. To this end, the course will, in particular, look into how social and environmental issues can be integrated in business through stakeholder engagement processes.

Description of the teaching methods
The course is taught through lectures, cases, discussions, and group work in class, as well as student presentations. Guest lecturers from companies and other organizations provide the students with practical examples of some of the challenges involved in sustainable business. By drawing on the experience of these practitioners and on recent developments within research on sustainable business, the course enhances students’ abilities to analytically address the issue of sustainable business.
Feedback during the teaching period
For the period of teaching, individual feedback is offered during ‘office hours’ provided by faculty staff members teaching in the course (see day and time on Canvas). We also encourage you to ask questions or make comments in class, and form self-study groups to secure peer feedback on your work.

Student workload
Preparation 165 hours
Teaching 38 hours
Examination 24 hours
Expected literature

Preliminary list of readings:


  • Friedman, M. 1970. The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits. New York Times. 
  • Carroll, A. B. 1979. A three-dimensional conceptual model of corporate performance. Academy of Management Review, 4(4): 497-505.
  • Bansal, T., & Song, H.-C. 2017. Similar But Not the Same: Differentiating Corporate Sustainability from Corporate Responsibility. Academy of Management Annals, 11(1): 105-149.
  • Herzig, C., & Kühn, A.-L. 2017. Corporate Resposibility Reporting, in: Rasche, A., Morsing, M., & Moon, J. (Eds). Corporate Social Responsibility: Strategy, Communication, Governance. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK.
  • Rasche, A. 2009. A necessary supplement: what the UN Global is and is not. Business and Society, 48(4): 511-53.
  • Buhmann, K., Jonsson, J., & Fisker, M. 2018. Do no harm and do more good too: connecting the SDGs with business and human rights and political CSR theory. Corporate Governance: The International Journal of Business in Society, 19(3): 389-403.
  • Mitchell, R.K., Agle, B.R. & Wood, J. 1997. Toward a Theory of Stakeholder Identification and Salience: Defining the Principle of Who and What Really Counts”, Academy of Management Review, 22(4): 853-886.
  • AccountAbility. 2015. AA1000 Stakeholder engagement standard (2015).
  • Porter, M. E., & Kramer, M. R. 2011. Creating Shared Value. Harvard Business Review, 89(1/2): 62-77.
  • Crane, A, Palazzo, G, Spence, L & Matten, D. 2014. Contesting the value of ‘Creating Shared Value’, California Management Review, 56(2): 130-153.
  • Ambec, S., & Lanoie, P. 2008. Does it pay to be green? A systematic overview. Academy of management Perspectives, 22(4): 45-62.
  • Montabon, F., Pagell, M., & Wu., Z. 2016. Making Sustainability Sustainable. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 52(2): 11-27.
  • Distelhorst, G., Hainmueller, J., & Locke, R. M. 2017. Does Lean Improve Labor Standards? Management and Social Performance in the Nike Supply Chain. Management Science, 63(3): 707-728.
  • Villena, V. H., & Gioia, D. A. On the riskiness of lower-tier suppliers: Managing sustainability in supply networks Journal of Operations Management, 64(1): 65-87.
  • Narula, R. 2019. Enforcing higher labor standards within developing country value chains: Consequences for MNEs and informal actors in a dual economy. Journal of International Business Studies, 50(9): 1622-1635.
  • Lund-Thomsen, P., Lindgreen, A., & Vanhamme, J. 2016. Industrial clusters and corporate social responsibility in developing countries: what we know, what do not know, and what we need to know. Journal of Business Ethics, 133(1): 9-24.
  • Jamali, D., Lund-Thomsen, P., & Khara, N. 2015. CSR institutionalized myths in developing countries: An imminent threat of selective decoupling. Business & Society, 56(3):  454–486. 
  • Nadvi, K. 2008. Global Standards, Global Governance and the Organization of Global Value Chains. Journal of Economic Geography, 8(3): 323-343.
  • Arleta, A.A., Majoch, A., Hoepner, G.F, & Hebb, T. 2017. Sources of Stakeholder Salience in the Responsible Investment Movement: Why do investors sign the Principles for Responsible Investment?. Journal of Business Ethics, 140(4): 723-741.
  • Van Duuren, E., Plantinga, A., & Scholtens, B. 2016. ESG Integration and the Investment Management Process: Fundamental Investing Reinvented. Journal of Business Ethics, 138 (3): 525–533.       
Last updated on 14-12-2021