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2023/2024  KAN-CSOAO1005U  Organizations and Society

English Title
Organizations and Society

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Mandatory
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Quarter
Start time of the course Spring, Third Quarter
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Study board
Study Board for cand.merc. and CSOA (CSOA)
Course coordinator
  • Tanusree Jain - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Management
  • Organisation
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 01-12-2023

Relevant links

Learning objectives
  • Learn to identify and analyse complex business situations and be conscientious of the underlying ethical dilemmas facing organizations and individuals
  • Understand and be able to discuss major relationships and theories related to organizations and society, namely CSR, stakeholder logic, and corporate governance
  • Distinguish among a range of stakeholders in relation to the functioning of business, identify their various interests and concerns; and appraise the complexity involved in managerial decision making
  • Critically evaluate current debates concerning different actor perspectives on the purpose of the business, and their social and environmental impact
  • Understand how businesses approach their social and environmental responsibilities and evaluate their potentials and limits in particular organizations and societal contexts
  • Articulate the role of ethics in business decision making
Organizations and Society:
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 Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Spring and Spring
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Business is a contested institution. While some emphasize that growing productivity and innovation has led to improving the economic conditions of many people, others worry about the social and environmental costs of business activities. At the core of these intense debates, there are different views about the current and ideal interactions between organizations and society.


In this course, we will adopt a broader view for understanding the role that business organizations play in society. We believe this role is expected to expand and is indispensable for society. Yet, the recent wave of questionable business practices and scandals has caused serious economic, social, and environmental damage and may threaten the legitimacy of business organizations.


Accordingly, this course focuses on organizations and society, and intends to prepare students to understand, identify and shape the responsibility of businesses vis-à-vis society and the future generations. It seeks to develop critical thinking about ethical issues that arise during the course of business operations, both internally and externally, and help students analyze the impact of business decisions on a variety of stakeholders. While there are no easy recipes for what corporations should and must do, our departing assumption is that learning to understand and effectively manage ethical, social, and environmental issues can produce positive results for the employees, the manager, for the company, and for society that large.


To do so, several business case studies will be used to provide a clear practitioner perspective and to connect theories to practice. The course assignment will enable students to investigate the social and/or environmental responsibility of business in the context of a chosen organization, and to identify the roles and interactions of ethics, strategy, and stakeholder management.


Description of the teaching methods
The approach to learning and teaching will be evidenced based, interactive and learner centred. The course will be divided amongst individual work, teamwork, and participation in plenary work. The central driver around which the course is designed is participation, meaning participating in class discussions, working in groups on case studies, and contributing to the class through individual work. Our goal is threefold: (1) to foster an atmosphere of openness and dialogue; (2) to challenge participants to learn and give the best of themselves; and (3) to look at issues from different angles and perspectives. Participation involves making valuable contributions to class discussions through thoughtful comments and/or questions. Consider participation an evaluation of how much you contribute to moving the class discussions forward. This will involve thorough preparation for and consistent attendance of seminars. Interactive facilitation techniques will be used to encourage students to draw on their existing knowledge and participate in new knowledge creation individually and in groups. Accordingly, a constructivist pedagogic approach will be utilised.

Preparing for Class
This Course draws on resources from multiple sources. Prior to each seminar session, students are referred to the appropriate section in the reading list and the relevance and value of each reading to the specific lecture topic is identified and discussed. Students are expected to review course literature and on-line materials accordingly, and this will inform class discussion and group work. Seminars will be an opportunity to critically think about these online materials, critically evaluate your own assumptions and collectively arrive at a rational understanding of the subject matter.
Feedback during the teaching period
Each lecture opens and closes with the opportunity for students to ask questions about their understanding of previous topics. Usually the class is given short group-work exercises on topics related to each seminar. Feedback is provided on this in class.

The last class includes a course review of 2 hours that will enable students to get feedback on their understandings and on their questions
Student workload
Teaching and class preparation 166 hours
Exam 40 hours
Further Information


Please see 'Business of Society' blog for a lively commentary on issues addressed in this course.


Expected literature

Hoffman, M. (1984). General Introduction: Ethical Frameworks for Application in Business in Business Ethics: Readings and Cases in Corporate Morality, W.M.Hoffman & J.M. Moore (Eds), McGraw-Hill.


Milton Friedman’s (1970) ‘The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits’ New York Times Magazine (13 September 1970)


Stout, L. (2013). The shareholder value myth. Cornell Law Faculty Publications.


Stout, L. (2012) The problem of corporate purpose. Issues in Governance Studies, 48.


Mitchell, R.K., Agle B.R. & Wood, J. (1997). Toward a Theory of Stakeholder Identification and Salience: Defining the Principle of Who and What Really Counts. Academy of Management Review, 22(4): 853-886.


Jain, T., & Jamali, D. (2017). Strategic approaches to corporate social responsibility: A comparative study of India and the Arab World. In Development-Oriented Corporate Social Responsibility (pp. 71-90). Routledge.


Jain, T., & Jamali, D. (2016). Looking inside the black box: The effect of corporate governance on corporate social responsibility. Corporate governance: an international review, 24(3), 253-273.


Rasche, A. (2020). The United Nations Global Compact and the Sustainable  Development Goals. In Laasch, O. et al. eds., Research Handbook of Responsible Management. Edward Elgar Publishing 2020. 


Soundararajan, V., Sahasranamam, S., Khan, Z., & Jain, T. (2021). Multinational enterprises and the governance of sustainability practices in emerging market supply chains: An agile governance perspective. Journal of World Business56(2), 101149.


Jain, T. (2017). Decoupling corporate social orientations: A cross-national analysis. Business & Society56(7), 1033-1067.


Morsing, M., Schultz, M. (2006). Corporate social responsibility communication: stakeholder information, response and involvement strategies. Business Ethics: A European Review, 15(4), 323-338. 


Christensen, L. T., Morsing, M., & Thyssen, O. (2013). CSR as aspirational talk. Organization, 20(3), 372-393.

Last updated on 01-12-2023