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2023/2024  KAN-CCMVV1801U  Consulting for Sustainability – Harnessing Business Models and Innovation

English Title
Consulting for Sustainability – Harnessing Business Models and Innovation

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn, Spring
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 75
Study board
Study Board for cand.merc. and GMA (CM)
Course coordinator
  • Kristjan Jespersen - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Innovation
  • Organisational behaviour
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 15-02-2023

Relevant links

Learning objectives
After having participated in this course students should be able to:
  • Know basic concepts of social innovation and apply these concepts and their specific tools in a real case.
  • Identify sources for creative ideas for companies (internally and externally) doing so theoretically and also practically
  • Evaluate the business ideas identified, using specific characteristics derived from the literature provided in the course (e.g. actionability, value, novelty, etc.).
  • Reflect on (literature about) sustainability, city climate action plans, idea generation and sources of innovation, product innovation and evaluation, process management and entrepreneurship.
  • Apply the overall knowledge developed in the course in a specific sustainability case.
  • Gain experience in finding, evaluating and applying relevant literature to the specific situation of a client organization;
  • Develop and strengthen your creativity, teamwork, project, communication, research, writing, and presentation skills.
  • Understand the value of stakeholder engagement and how to apply it
  • Develop a proposal and work plan for a consulting project
  • Learn and apply discovery techniques and qualitative/quantitative research skills
Course prerequisites
Students with various interests are welcome to attend this course. As such, there are no specific prerequisites for the course
Consulting for Sustainability - Harnessing Business Models and Innovation:
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 2-4
Size of written product Max. 20 pages
Definition of number of pages:
Groups of
2 students 10 pages max.
3 students 15 pages max
4 students 20 pages max

Note that the exam is a group exam. If you are not able to find a group yourself, you have to address the course coordinator who will place you in a group.

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 Report
Release of assignment Subject chosen by students themselves, see guidelines if any
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 and Summer
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

The Consulting for Sustainability – Harnessing Business Models and Innovation course is designed to prepare students to become effective contributors in consulting firms, organizations that require consulting assistance, and organizations implementing important changes. From time-to-time every organization experiences the need to renew its ability to be successful and often uses external consultants to assist in the process. The broad topic of sustainability provides the oppportunity to analyze an organization’s competitive position, capabilities, organizational processes, culture, etc. Once a new sustainability direction is developed the process of implementing the changes must be managed.  Even if you do not plan to make consulting your career goal, you will have many opportunities in both your professional and personal life to use consulting skills.  


This seminar provides an opportunity for CBS Master’s students to undertake a consulting assignment that looks for private sector partnerships and government opportunities to address specific sustainability problems of the Cities of Frederiksberg and Copenhagen and for companies and organizations who include CLEAN, Henning Larsen, Velux, Green Building Council. These are not simulated problems, nor organizations. Students will apply the skills they have acquired throughout their degree to a specific sustainability problem defined by their client. In order to successfully complete the course, students must clearly define the client's problem, assemble evidence,select criteria for evaluation, define project outcomes, confront intervention trade-offs, and decide and recommend a course of action that addresses the clients sustainability needs.  The goals of the class are to develop your innovative and professional thinking, policy analysis, project management, teamwork, written and oral presentation skills.Students from all backgrounds and interests are encouraged to take this class.


Client Example: City of Frederiksberg & City of Copenhagen are looking for Student Consultants

Each group of students will be assigned to a sustainability problem being worked on by the City of Frederiksberg or Copenhagen. Students will engage in commissioned initiatives by various city departments within the fields of energy supply, buildings, transportation, etc. For each project, the students will explore the potential for various forms of private sector partnerships to contribute to addressing the problem. This will entail some discussion with and direction from City staff to ensure that the work being done is relevant and connects usefully to the City’s priorities and program development activities. The work delivered by the students will inform and assist the City to make a final decision linked to thier sustainability problem.


Background Information

The cities of Frederiksberg and Copenhagen municipalities are both leaders in the field of urban sustainability. Since 2008, Frederiksberg municipality has been part of the ‘climate municipality’ initiative spearheaded by The Danish Society for Nature Conservation with a commitment to reduce CO2 emission by 3 percent annually until 2020. In order to meet this goal, Frederiksberg has launched a number of initiatives, including energy renovation of public property, introduction of ‘environmental ambassadors’ across all municipal departments, and a pool of funds for green transformation where both individuals and organizations can apply. One specific example can be found in the period between 2005-2014 where Frederiksberg’s CO2-emission decreased by almost 200,000 tons, corresponding to a 41 percent reduction.


Similarly, the Copenhagen municipality has set the ambitious goal of becoming the first CO2-neutral capital in 2025. While not part of the ‘climate municipality’ initiative, Copenhagen has made extensive efforts to improve the climate since 2009, with the formulation of a specific climate strategy towards 2015 of decreasing emission by 20 percent. Having already reached this goal in 2011, a number of new initiatives have been introduced. A recent example is the Agenda 21-strategy, which describes four principles for how citizens, public management, and other relevant actors can cooperate in contributing to a sustainable city in the 21st century. The central principles are:

  1. A holistic and interdisciplinary perspective
  2. Partnerships
  3. Participating and co-creational citizens
  4. Communities

Like Frederiksberg, Copenhagen municipality is also focusing on climate adaptation, in particular to curb the effects of flooding. Copenhagen annually publishes its environmental accounts on nine different topics, which is also available in a summarized pamphlet version. 



Description of the teaching methods
Teaching includes lecture-style classes, in-class workshops with students presenting and actively participating in discussions.

Development of personal competences linked to traditional “lecture style” characteristics of this course:
• Knowledge/competences about theory/models/tools in sustainability;
• Knowledge/competences in reading and analyzing scientific literature;
• Presentation and discussion skills;
• Analytical skills; and
• Knowledge/competences in writing a final project report.

Development of additional personal competences linked to applied and project related characteristics of this course:
• Knowledge/competences in identifying, developing and evaluating ideas for sustainability initiatives within urban landscapes;
• Knowledge/competences in doing consulting for cities;
• Competences in innovative methods on how best to present, to develop and to integrate such sustainability recommendations;
• Competences in sustainability case analysis and development; and
• Competences in group organization and communication (experiences with group dynamics as preparation for and during the course).
Feedback during the teaching period
Students will receive feedback in the following forms

1.) In class feedback based on the classroom discussions
2.) Digital feedback in response to emails
3.) Exam feedback following the exam
Student workload
Lectures and Preparation 100 hours
Client Meetings 36 hours
Writing final consulting report 45 hours
Exam 25 hours
Total 206 hours
Further Information

Confidentiality:  You will be working on real issues for client organizations.  Although the information you are likely to research and analyze is not secret, it may certainly be sensitive in nature and you may be given access to internal or proprietary information.  You are to maintain confidentiality in all the work that you do on behalf of your client.  Outside of class, you may comment generically that you are working on a project for a given organization.  However, you should not discuss, tweet, Facebook, reference in LinkedIn or otherwise publicize the content of your work until you have been fully debriefed by your client on his/her preferences on the subject and receive that acknowledgement in writing via email. 

Expected literature

Robinson, J. (2004). Squaring the circle? Some thoughts on the idea of sustainable development. Ecological economics, 48(4), 369-384.


Sneddon, C., Howarth, R. B., & Norgaard, R. B. (2006). Sustainable development in a post-Brundtland world. Ecological economics, 57(2), 253-268.


Robinson, J. (2003). Future subjunctive: backcasting as social learning. Futures, 35(8), 839-856.


Banerjee, S. B. (2003). Who sustains whose development? Sustainable development and the reinvention of nature. Organization studies, 24(1), 143-180.


Robinson, J., & Cole, R. J. (2015). Theoretical underpinnings of regenerative sustainability. Building Research & Information, 43(2), 133-143.


Miller, T. R. (2013). Constructing sustainability science: emerging perspectives and research trajec-tories. Sustainability science, 8(2), 279-293.


Porter, M.E. & Kramer, M.R. (2011). Creating shared value. Harvard Business Review, 89 (January-February), 62-77.


Reinecke, J., Manning, S., & Von Hagen, O. (2012). The emergence of a standards market: Multi-plicity of sustainability standards in the global coffee industry. Organization Studies, 33(5-6), 791-814.


Hamedani, A. Z., & Huber, F. (2012). A comparative study of DGNB, LEED and BREEAM certificate systems in urban sustainability. The Sustainable City VII: Urban Regeneration and Sustainability, 1121.

Last updated on 15-02-2023