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2023/2024  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
Min. participants 30
Max. participants 100
Study board
Study Board for BSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Martin Skrydstrup - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
For academic questions related to the course, please contact course responsible Martin Skrydstrup (msk.msc@cbs.dk).
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Globalisation and international business
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 22-11-2023

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.
International Business and Sustainability:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Written sit-in exam on CBS' computers
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Assignment type Case based assignment
Duration 4 hours
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Summer, Course and exam timetable is/will be available on https:/​/​www.cbs.dk/​en/​study/​cbs-summer-university/​courses-and-exams
Aids Open book: all written and electronic aids, including internet access
Read more here about which exam aids the students are allowed to bring and will be given access to : Exam aids and IT application package
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
The number of registered candidates for the make-up examination/re-take examination may warrant that it most appropriately be held as an oral examination. The programme office will inform the students if the make-up examination/re-take examination instead is held as an oral examination including a second examiner or external examiner.
1st retake: 4 hours sit-in, new exam question.
Description of the exam procedure

The exam consists of two parts:

  1. Questions related to a specific theory and/or framework from the course curriculum
  2. Questions related to a short (approximately 5 pages) case
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

This course is about global corporations and their roles and responsibilities in society at large. We will explore both multinational corporations' obligation to conduct their business as profitably as possible and at the same time acting responsibly to society at large. A key question of the class is to what extent these two core commitments are contradictive and to what extent they are congruent?


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's place 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? Through the textbook chapters, combined with in-class case exercises and discussions, dive into the exciting world of IB and look for answers to this bold question. During the latter part of the course, we will extend 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 will in some instances involve ‘live’ cases with representatives from firms and organisations with comprehensive sustainability programmes. Our work will be concentrated around some of the SDGs, for example: 1: No poverty, 2: Zero hunger, 8: Decent work and economic growth, 12: Responsible consumption and production, and 17: Partnerships for the goals.


The course outline is as follows (subject to changes without prior notificaton):

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)
Class 10:Socially responsible international business and the SDGs
Class 11:Socially responsible international business and the SDGs

Description of the teaching methods
The course consists of face-to-face class sessions that are supplemented with online materials and activities. The textbook and other readings will be accompanied by video material and podcasts to enhance the learning experience. An important component of this course is in-class discussions based on short cases. Additionally, in some of the classes, we will meet practitioners to try and understand the challenges and opportunities of IB in today's complex business environment.
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 38 hours
Preparation 137 hours
Feedback activity 7 hours
Examination 4 hours
Further Information

6-week course.


Preliminary assignment: The Nordic Nine pre-course is foundational for the summer university and identical for all bachelor courses. Students will receive an invitation with all details by the end of May. The assignment has two parts. 1.) online lectures and tutorials that student can access at their own time and 2.) one synchronous workshop which will be offered both online and in-person at several dates and times before the official start of the summer university courses. Sign-up is first come first serve. All students are expected to complete this assignment before classes begin.


Expected literature


Required 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).



Ghemawat, P. (2001). Distance still matters. The hard reality of global
expansion. Harvard Business Review , 79(8), 137-147.

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.


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 22-11-2023