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2023/2024  KAN-CCBDO1009U  Responsible Value Chains ‐ a Path to Sustainable Development?

English Title
Responsible Value Chains ‐ a Path to Sustainable Development?

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Mandatory (also offered as elective)
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Quarter
Start time of the course Second Quarter
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Study board
Study Board for BSc and MSc in Business, Language and Culture, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Peter Lund-Thomsen - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • International political economy
  • Supply chain management and logistics
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 03-07-2023

Relevant links

Learning objectives
By the end of the course, the students are expected to be able to:
  • Describe the theories and concepts covered in the course readings that are relevant to the analysis of sustainability in global value chains
  • Apply these concepts and theories to analyse how sustainability strategies, standards and practices in global value chains impact various groups of actors and natural environments in developing country contexts.
  • Critically evaluate these theories, their application and limitations in relation to explaining how sustainability in global value chains affects and is affected by local producers, workers, communities and environments.
  • Demonstrate appropriate academic writing skills, including: correct referencing, clear argumentation and correct usage and definition of key concepts.
Course prerequisites
The most important qualification you need to participate is intellectual curiosity and a willingness to examine and challenge your own assumptions about what sustainability is, and how it is addressed in developing country contexts. Students returning from -- or intending to undertake internships or fieldwork in the broad area of business and development studies -- might find the “hands-on” approach of this course particularly useful.
Responsible Value Chains - a Path to Sustainable Development:
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 Individual oral exam based on written group product
Number of people in the group 2-5
Size of written product Max. 30 pages
2 students max 20 pages. 3 students max 25 pages. 4-5 students max 30 pages.
Assignment type Written assignment
Release of assignment The Assignment is released in Digital Exam (DE) at exam start
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
20 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 and Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
A) If the student is absent from the oral exam due to documented illness but has been part of handing in the report, s/he does not have to submit a new project report, but MUST hand in the same project AGAIN for the re-exam.
B) If an individual student fails the oral exam, s/he does not have to submit a new project report, but MUST hand in the same project report again for the re-exam.
C) If a whole group fails, they must hand in a revised report for the re-take.
D) If a student has not handed in anything for the ordinary exam, he/she will hand in a report for the re-exam.
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

In the last thirty years several international media and NGO reports have highlighted poor labor and environmental conditions at the base of the global value chains of internationally branded corporations. Responding to some of these challenges, many of these corporations have developed their own standards and codes of conduct and/or have joined multi-stakeholder initiatives that bring together business, NGOs, governments, and other organizations in trying to address the social and environmental challenges of export-oriented industries in developing countries.


In this course, we explore the potential and limitations of addressing sustainability in global value chains (GVCs) in relation to improving poor work, social and environmental conditions of production in export-oriented industries in developing countries. We do this through the lens of global value chain analysis, which helps us understand the transnational organization of industries, power relations and inequality within these industries, as we map the linkages between consumers, brand owners, suppliers, workers and nature in different parts of the Global South. In particular, we trace how the sustainability strategies of global brands travel through GVCs and touch down in different localities, differentially impacting upon local firms/farmers, workers, and local communities and environments.


Description of the teaching methods
The course is structured in such a way that theory and practice are closely related. It combines theories of global value chains (and related Global Production Network and Recycling approaches) and economic, social, and environmental upgrading with practical applications to different cases, based on hands-on and dialogue-based approaches to learning. Attention is paid to developing the ability of students to consider a variety of options and devise solutions to the complex dilemmas faced by corporate executives, NGO representatives, trade union representatives, and government policymakers that work with sustainability issues in developing countries.

A variety of teaching methods are used in the course. Practical, case or video-based exercises are used as a basis for debating sustainability dilemmas in GVCs, together with small group discussions. Common points are subsequently discussed in a plenary forum. Guest speakers will explain how they work with sustainability in GVCs in practice outside the classroom. Traditional lecture-based presentations also form part of the course in ways that link class discussions to the course literature and related theoretical approaches.
Feedback during the teaching period
Feedback during the teaching period will be provided as follows:
a) on demand, during office hours
b) during class discussions, when students will be challenged by the course lecturers to reflect deeply on their own assumptions and views about constitutes “appropriate” ways of addressing sustainability issues in GVCs; and
c) through occasional quizzes along the course for students to be able to self-assess their own understanding of key concepts covered in the curriculum, followed by overall feedback by the lecturer
Student workload
Lectures 30 hours
Exam 35 hours
Preparation 141 hours
Total 206 hours
Expected literature

To be announced on Canvas

Last updated on 03-07-2023