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2024/2025  BA-BBLCV1162U  Scandinavian Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility

English Title
Scandinavian Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Bachelor
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Min. participants 40
Max. participants 70
Study board
Study Board for BSc and MSc in Business, Language and Culture, BSc
Course coordinator
  • Kai Hockerts - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • Corporate governance
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Globalisation and international business
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 16-02-2024

Relevant links

Learning objectives
  • Summarize the current state of affairs in Scandinavia in sustainability and CSR.
  • Describe and reflect on the characterization of "Scandinavian management" and the role this may have in sustainability and CSR approaches and performances in Scandinavia while also critiquing such characterizations when they risk becoming stereotypes.
  • Critically discuss partnership activities from a stakeholder and value added perspective in the Scandinavian region between companies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and governmental organizations and their relationship to sustainability and CSR.
  • Analyze sustainability and CSR activities (management practices, stakeholder engagement, organizational structures, and reporting) at a selection of major Scandinavian firms.
Scandinavian Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility:
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 Written assignment
Release of assignment The Assignment is released in Digital Exam (DE) at exam start
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

In this course, we consider the current the state of sustainability and CSR in Scandinavia and explore factors that could be considered as having contributed to Scandinavia’s historically strong sustainability and CSR performances. 


We will consider Scandinavian Sustainability in three different ways: 

  1. We will identify what is quintessentially “Scandinavian Sustainability”? In other words what are the behaviors that are found primarily here and not elsewhere?

  2. Next, we will compare sustainability practices in Scandinavia with practices in other countries. How and why do they differ? How does this difference affect performance? 

  3. Finally, we will look at how international standards and global practices are implemented and interpreted through a Scandinavian lens. 


Scandinavia is described by some commentators as a world leader in the areas of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability. Notably, these include deep-routed traditions of stakeholder engagement across Scandinavia, in line with the recent concept of “creating shared value”. Another distinct feature is the active role of government that has encouraged strong CSR and sustainability performances of Scandinavian companies. Finally, many of the sustainable governance and finance solutions underpinning Scandinavian societies operate as hybrid public-private constellations. We compare and evaluate Scandinavian and other approaches to sustainability and CSR. We also reflect upon the challenges for Scandinavia to maintain its standing as a world leader and discuss how and why governments in Scandinavia engage in shaping CSR in business organizations. 

Description of the teaching methods
During lectures, we will go through the literature and case studies. We will have in-class small group assignments with student presentations. We will have guest lecturers to share their experience from the public, private and civil sector.
Feedback during the teaching period
Feedback will be given to students after class exercises and, individually, in office hours. We will also run through assignment guidelines and evaluation criteria towards the end of the course, during which students are also invited to make questions specifically on the exam assignment.
Student workload
Preparation 164 hours
Teaching/Classroom time 38 hours
Examination 4 hours
Expected literature

Strand, R., Freeman, R. E., & Hockerts, K. (2015). Corporate social responsibility and sustainability in Scandinavia: An overview. Journal of Business Ethics, 127, 1-15


Bansal, P., & Song, H. C. (2017). Similar but not the same: Differentiating corporate sustainability from corporate responsibility. Academy of Management Annals, 11(1), 105–149.  


Hockerts, K., & Searcy, C. (2023). How to Sharpen Our Discourse on Corporate Sustainability and Business Ethics—A View from the Section Editors. Journal of Business Ethics, 1-11


Knudsen, J. S., Moon, J., & Slager, R. (2015). Government policies for corporate social responsibility in Europe: A comparative analysis of institutionalization. Policy and Politics 43(1), 81-99.  


Vallentin, S. (2015). Governmentalities of CSR: Danish Government Policy as a Reflection of Political Difference. Journal of Business Ethics 127(1), 33-47.  


Girschik, Verena. "Shared responsibility for societal problems: The role of internal activists in reframing corporate responsibility." Business & Society 59, no. 1 (2020): 34-66


Van der Byl, C. A., & Slawinski, N. (2015). Embracing tensions in corporate sustainability: A review of research from win-wins and trade-offs to paradoxes and beyond. Organization and Environment, 28(1), 54–79.  


Gaim M, Clegg S, Cunha M (2021) Managing impressions rather than emissions: Volkswagen and the false mastery of paradox. Organization Studies 42(6) 949-970


Delmas, M. A., & Burbano, V. C. (2011). The drivers of greenwashing. California Management Review, 54(1), 64-87


Schoeneborn, D., & Girschik, V. (2021). Managing CSR Communication. Handbook of Management Communication (pp. 443-458). De Gruyter. 


Herzig, C., & Kuhn, A-L. (2017). Corporate Responsibility Reporting. In A. Rasche, M. Morsing and J. Moon eds., Corporate Social Responsibility: Strategy,Communication and Governance. Cambridge University Press, Chapter 8. 

Last updated on 16-02-2024