English   Danish

2022/2023  KAN-CCMVI2126U  Corporate Social Responsibility:Addressing the Failings of Contemporary CSR

English Title
Corporate Social Responsibility:Addressing the Failings of Contemporary CSR

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration Summer
Start time of the course Summer
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 60
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Jacobo Ramirez - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
  • Karen Becker - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
For academic questions related to the course, please contact Karen Becker (kbe.msc@cbs.dk) or Jacobo Ramirez (jara.msc@cbs.dk)
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Innovation
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 16-11-2022

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Demonstrate a mature nuanced understanding of the complexities associated with the role firms play in contemporary global society
  • Demonstrate a strong theoretical understanding of the key literature and frameworks that guide contemporary business responsibilities
  • Build a tool kit for examining the interplay of business, environment, and social impacts, understanding the data necessary to make informed decisions
  • Demonstrate creative innovative thinking with regard to social responsibilities and wicked problems
Course prerequisites
Completed bachelor degree or equivalent.
Corporate Social Responsibility: Adressing the Failings of Contemporary CRS:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Assignment type Project
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
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Retake exam: 72-hour home assignment, max. 10 pages, new exam question.
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.

Exam form for 3rd attempt (2nd retake): The second retake is always an online oral exam (20 minutes online oral exam with no preparation time) with one internal examiner and an internal co-examiner.
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Course content:

This course will examine the role of firms in society and ask questions such as: what role we want firms to play, how they can be held more accountable, and if current models and theories are adequate. The starting point for our discussion will be focused on contemporary Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR) and its failings to deliver signficant sustainable impact on critical grand challenges. We will analyze both macro and micro factors to determine why CSR has failed and how firms might re-commit to creating sustainable impact. 


We will begin by examining the macro environment and the historical context of firms as key institutions within capitalist societies. As such we will think about firms as agents of social and community development, as well as their interactions with governments and civil society. We will then move to examine more micro factors within the contemporary environment, with particular emphasis on leadership and governance failures and their relation to adverse impacts on human rights and climate. We complete our study with a look to toward the future.


Throughout our discussions and readings, students will learn about various frameworks and tools which firms use to develop, implement, assess, and communicate about their social and environmental impacts. A particular focus throughout the course will be on business innovation and the role of technology as a path for achieving economic growth and addressing sustainable development goals.


Course structure:

Preliminary assignment: read the articles listed in the literature list and be prepared to discuss them in class.

Class 1: Wicked Problems and the Role of Firms: Is CSR Bound to Fail?  
Class 2: Historical Context: How has the Role of Firms Shifted?
Class 3: Contemporary Models and Frameworks: Guidance or Cover?
Class 4: Leadership Failings: Can we Reconcile Unrealistic Expectations?
Class 5: PCSR and Governance Gaps: Should Firms Regulate Themselves?  
Class 6: Human Rights: A Response to Early Failings or Another Failure?  


Feedback activity: Proposal and Paper Reviews 


Class 7: Climate: What are the Pathways for a Super-Wicked Problem? 
Class 8: Transformational Partnerships: Who is Really Transformed? 
Class 9: Customers, Activists and Investors: Is the Social Contract Working? 
Class 10: Innovation and Social Impact: Can we move Beyond Incrementalism? 
Class 11: Looking Forward: Can we Re-imagine the Role of Firms?  

Description of the teaching methods
The course will be a combination of lectures, cases and discussions.
Feedback during the teaching period
Students will have advisory meetings to review project proposals and progress..
Student workload
Preliminary assignment 20 hours
Classroom attendance 33 hours
Preparation 126 hours
Feedback activity 7 hours
Examination 20 hours
Further Information

Ordinary 6 week course


Preliminary Assignment: The course coordinator uploads Preliminary Assignment on Canvas at the end of May. It is expected that students participate as it will be included in the final exam, but the assignment is without independent assessment&grading.


Course and exam timetable is/will be available on https://www.cbs.dk/en/study/international-summer-university/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/en/study/international-summer-university/courses-and-exams in start March.

Expected literature

Mandatory readings for the preliminary assignment:

Mackey, J. & Sisodia, R. (2013). Conscious capitalism: liberating the heroic spirit of business. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Review Press.--  Introduction and Parts 1 and 2  


Schneider, A. (2020). Bound to fail? Exploring the systemic pathologies of CSR and their implications for CSR research. Business & Society, 59(7), 1303-1338.


Hsieh, N. H. (2017). The responsibilities and role of business in relation to society: Back to basics?. Business Ethics Quarterly, 27(2), 293-314.


Giuliani, E. (2018). Regulating global capitalism amid rampant corporate wrongdoing—Reply to “Three frames for innovation policy”. Research Policy, 47(9), 1577-1582.


Full Reading List Provided Prior to start of Course.


Last updated on 16-11-2022