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2023/2024  KAN-CJURV1043U  Contracts and the Value Chain

English Title
Contracts and the Value Chain

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
Study board
Study Board for BSc/MSc in Business Administration and Commercial Law, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Christina D. Tvarnø - Department of Business Humanities and Law (BHL)
  • Jaakko Salminen - Department of Business Humanities and Law (BHL)
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Business Law
  • Globalisation and international business
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 06-09-2023

Relevant links

Learning objectives
Understanding the role that contracts have in the rise of new forms of production, such as centralised mass production, global value chains, digital platforms and the circular economy.
  • Understanding the paradox of how new forms of production rely on contractual boundaries to limit liability and, at the same time, utilize new technologies and ideologies of governance to extend the effects of governance beyond these boundaries and throughout the value chain.
  • Gaining knowledge and skills to understand the role of law in shaping economic production.
  • Learning to critically assess the effects of different legal frameworks in light of production-related interests ranging from economic efficiency to security of supply and sustainability, such as climate change mitigation
  • Acquiring practical skills for evaluating the legal effects of different kinds of contractual governance and a toolbox for developing appropriate means of governance for diverse production related contexts and tasks.
  • Understanding the how contracts operate in the transnational space between state boundaries and beyond international law.
  • Gaining critical and pluralistic insight in concepts relevant to modern production, such as the global value chain.
Course prerequisites
Bachelor in business law and economics/law
Contracts and the Value Chain:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 10 pages
Assignment type Essay
Release of assignment An assigned subject is released in class
Duration 48 hours to prepare
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Autumn
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

We explore the role of contract as a fundamental building block of the global economy. It is difficult, almost impossible, to find products and services that are not dependent on global networks of contractually connected actors. We are connected to these global networks by contract, which at the same time insulates us from them. If we buy a cup of coffee at a coffee shop we do not need to care about the networks of contracts instantly connecting our transaction to corporate headquarters in Seattle and Vevey, global financial and logistics infrastructures, certification and auditing schemes, biodiversity loss, child labor or political strife on Guatemalan coffee plantations, to say nothing of the conflict in Ukraine or our own Danish pension funds.


Paradoxically, at the same time we have unprecedented visibility over the global networks of value that connect all actors in the world. Supply chain management systems, digital algorithms and the internet of things have long enabled the real-time remote monitoring of transactions and labor with techniques ranging from tracking global flows of goods to monitoring computer screen activity at Indian software suppliers and digitally connected sewing machine networks in Bangladeshi factories. Coupled with the life-cycle tracking of goods through RFID-tags, digital product passports and supply chain management software, we have very nearly perfect visibility of globally fragmented production and consumption. 


A burning question is to how to resolve this paradox. Interests of economic efficiency, global sustainability and security of supply are driving firms to privately monitor and control their contractually organized production networks. Corporate interests, regulators and NGOs are all vying for control over the very same value chains that supposedly exist in an apolitical transnational vacuum of private ordering. What is the future of law in global production—will visibility lead to accountability, or will the current system, allowing outsourcing without consideration of its global externalities, prevail?


During this course we ask the question of what has been, is, and will be the role of law in giving rise to and governing global value chain capitalism, today’s reigning mode of production. How can we use legal tools, such as private governance mechanisms, new regulatory initiatives, private international law, and contract and tort law, to tackle value chains from perspectives ranging from increasing their economic efficiency to guaranteeing sustainability or national security of supply. 


The course thus focuses on the foundational role of contract in forming, governing and regulating global value chains. New forms of production, such as global value chains, digital platforms, and the circular economy, have utilized new technologies and ideologies of governance to extend the governance effects of contract far beyond privity. This course introduces the development of these new forms of production and how they can be governed and provides a legal perspective on supply chain management and the governance of global production, whether for increased efficiency, sustainability or security of supply. This provides students a toolbox enabling them to make informed decisions on the legal consequences of different modes and techniques of organizing production. 


The course is taught as a "study group" which requires a high degree of student involvement in class and between classes. The teaching, cases and reading materials provide the foundation for the one-week project. The project must provide a scholarly analysis of a relevant case in the industry. 

Description of the teaching methods
In fall 2023 the course will be taught as a Study Group. Classes will be scheduled in November 2023 only.

The course has 20 hours of contact teaching. Between classes the students work with assignments and reading materials, such as scholarly articles, cases, and regulatory instruments.

The classes are dialogue based. Each class consists of a) a focused lecture on the course theme; b) a group exercise highlighting key features, such as the operation of governance mechanisms, liability or the different interests at play in value chain regulation and c) a reading workshop where students analyse and present central readings, which may include contracts (e.g. Maersk's Carbon Pacts), regulatory artefacts (e.g. Maersk's modern slavery statements), or scholarship (e.g. scholarly analyses on transnational sustainability laws).

The final lecture consists of an essay workshop where students will present their course essays for peer debate. After this, essays may still be finalised prior to handing them in for evaluation.
Feedback during the teaching period
Feedback in class through discussions and peer feedback. In particular, students are asked to read material for classes and prepare for a) group exercises and b) participate in structured, peer-led reading workshops according to pre-determined instructions.

Students are asked to begin working on their final essay before the end of the course. The final lecture consists of an essay workshop where students will present their course essays for peer debate. After this, essays may still be finalised prior to handing them in for evaluation. This is to facilitate students' skills in essay drafting.

Feedback between classes through cases, tasks and other blended activities.

Students are asked to prepare a structured learning diary underlining their key take-aways from each weekly module. Focus is on the two-way relationship between societal developments and legal normativity—students are asked to briefly (max one half typed page per week) reflect on their understanding of the role of the legal norms at heart of each module in relation to new forms of production.

Students may be tasked with take-home activities related to the group exercises that they are asked to hand in prior to the following session. These may involve, for example, short analyses (max one page) of the relationships of actors involved in a governance contract or of regulatory artefacts such as corporate modern slavery statements.

Students receive personal feedback on their learning diaries, the take-home activities and also on their final essay assignments.

Students will also have at their disposal an electronic discussion board open to any discussion related to the course.
Student workload
class participation 20 hours
blended activities 40 hours
cases 25 hours
preparations for classes 70 hours
exam project 50 hours
Expected literature

collection or compendium of articles, cases and other materials

Last updated on 06-09-2023