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2022/2023  KAN-CCMVV1456U  Transforming business practice - Solving the biggest business challenges through design science

English Title
Transforming business practice - Solving the biggest business challenges through design science

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
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
  • Michel Van der Borgh - Department of Marketing (Marketing)
Main academic disciplines
  • Marketing
  • Methodology and philosophy of science
  • Project and change management
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 14-02-2022

Relevant links

Learning objectives
At the end of the course, the student should be able to:
  • Discuss and compare benefits and drawbacks of design science research with other scientific methods used by people to solve business problems and challenges.
  • Model and diagnose business problems and challenges using different tools and techniques.
  • Describe methods that can determine the impact of proposed solutions; that is explaining how the solutions will help solve/ address the identified business problems/ challenges.
  • Describe how to design new or improve existing solutions to a business challenge.
  • Discuss how to implement and test business solutions and how this will enrich existing literature.
Course prerequisites
Transforming business practice - Solving the biggest business challenges through design:
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, see also the rules about examination forms in the programme regulations.
Individual or group exam Oral group exam based on written group product
Number of people in the group 3-4
Size of written product Max. 10 pages
Definition of number of pages:
Groups of
3-4 students 10 pages max
If you are not able to find a group yourself, you have to address the course coordinator who will facilitate your placement.

Note that the oral part of the exam is a group exam.
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 Case based assignment
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 Winter
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.
Description of the exam procedure

The students will work on a real business challenge (business case) and identify problems, diagnose root causes and effects, and suggest possible solutions.

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Business management is inherently a design science where managers are confronted with so-called 'wicked' business challenges. A wicked problem has innumerable causes, is tough to describe, and doesn’t have a right answer. Environmental degradation, terrorism, and poverty—these are classic examples of wicked problems. Managers also face wicked problems. Think of issues related to strategy formulation, radical brand differentiation, employee engagement – all of these have the markers of wicked problems. Many wicked/complex problems exists, and those problems are difficult to solve, yet solving them is necessary in today’s business world.


Under high uncertainty, managers need to make informed decisions on how to deal with such wicked problems and improve the status quo. To ensure that, managers maximize the output of their decisions, a systematic and scientific approach is needed. The aim of this course is to provide students with such an approach, namely design science.


Design science is a novel research approach where scientific knowledge and methods are utilized to solve wicked business management problems and challenges.


This course aims to introduce students to the design science approach and prepare them for their final master thesis project. This is the only course available to students that focuses on the application of academic research methods to actually solve business challenges. Thus, the goal of the course is to develop the skills and knowledge for conducting a transformative design science project where students are able to (a) identify and frame a company’s problem or challenge, (b) diagnose this problem, (c) provide solutions to address the problem, (d) explain ways to implement and evaluate the suggested solution, and (e) discuss theoretical implications of their research.


The course is part of a bigger collaboration project with companies. As part of this project, students will conduct their group project in collaboration with a company, and, as such students will get the opportunity to work on actual company problems and get access to the business organization for executing weekly assignments. It will prepare students for their (future) jobs by a) increasing students' employability (as design skills are in high demand) and b) enabling students to have societal impact.

Description of the teaching methods
The course uses blended learning. That is, we combine online material and lectures with in-class discussions and workshops. Blended learning (the mix of online and offline platforms) creates a powerful leaning environment for students, which we intend to use to its fullest potential.

The course consists of online lectures and materials, a running real-life case, and online/offline case-based and general discussions. The class is highly interactive meaning that there is a corresponding expectation that students engage in these interactions.

The project will be conducted in groups of two or three students (as one part of the active learning experience) and can address different research topics within the area of the MSc program.
Feedback during the teaching period
During tutorial sessions, students will get feedback from peers and lecturers. In an extended classroom-teaching situation, groups can present voluntarily their group projects. At the end of the course, a Q&A session is planned.
Student workload
Preparation 123 hours
Exam 50 hours
Teaching 33 hours
Expected literature

Indicative literature (more literature will be announced upon enrollment):

  • Alvesson, M. and Sandberg, J. (2011). Generating Research Questions through Problematization, The Academy of Management Review, 36(2), 247–271.
  • MacKenzie, S. B. (2003). The Dangers of Poor Construct Conceptualization, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 31 (3), 323–326.
  • Dresch, A., Lacerda, D. P., & Antunes, J. A. V. (2015). Design Science Research. In Design Science Research (pp. 67–102). Springer, Cham.
  • Denyer, D., Tranfield, D., & Van Aken, J. E. (2008). Developing Design Propositions through Research Synthesis. Organization Studies29(3), 393–413.
  • Holmström, J., Ketokivi, M., & Hameri, A. P. (2009). Bridging Practice and Theory: A Design Science Approach. Decision Sciences40(1), 65–87.
  • March, S. T., & Smith, G. F. (1995). Design and Natural Science Research on Information Technology. Decision support systems15(4), 251–266.
  • Sudbury-Riley, L., Hunter-Jones, P., Al-Abdin, A., Lewin, D., & Naraine, M. V. (2020). The Trajectory Touchpoint Technique: A Deep Dive Methodology for Service Innovation. Journal of Service Research, 1094670519894642.
  • Van der Borgh, M., Xu, J., & Sikkenk, M. (2020). Identifying, Analyzing, and Finding Solutions to the Sales Lead Black Hole: A Design Science Approach. Industrial Marketing Management88, 136–151.
Last updated on 14-02-2022