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2024/2025  BA-BHAAV5003U  Introduction to Sustainable Business

English Title
Introduction to Sustainable Business

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Bachelor
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn, Spring
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 50
Study board
Study Board for BSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Tanusree Jain - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Globalisation and international business
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 02-04-2024

Relevant links

Learning objectives
The students should be able to demonstrate:
  • Describe and critically discuss concepts, theories and frameworks related to the broader debate around Business Ethics, Corporate Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
  • Analyse and critically assess a company’s understanding of its sustainability policies, practices, and strategies against concepts, theories, and frameworks of shared value creation for business and society.
  • Identify and critically assess how a company engages with its stakeholders to develop and implement a sustainability strategy.
  • Develop well-argued recommendations for a company to improve its sustainability commitments, and to contribute value to society
Course prerequisites
Introduction to Sustainable Business:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 5 pages
Assignment type Case based assignment
Release of assignment The Assignment is released in Digital Exam (DE) at exam start
Duration 24 hours to prepare
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter and Summer
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
A new assignment must be submitted on the basis of new examination text.
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Course content and structure

The course is an introduction to sustainable business with a focus on firms' environmental and social impact on society. It provides students with an understanding of business sustainability, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and shared value. Students will obtain knowledge about how corporations integrate social and environmental issues in order to identify new business opportunities, communicate (and collaborate) with their stakeholders, compete in global markets, and address sustainability expectations and requirements of firms in the early 21st century. Besides introducing a number of sustainability issues, the course provides students with analytical skills and theories to critically interrogate sustainability ideals and practices. 


The course structure provides a historical overview of ideas concerning the social responsibility of business and the turn towards sustainability, followed by three approaches (or pillars) to examining sustainable business. These include ethical decision making, stakeholder management, and corporate purpose. These approaches are then integrated and applied in functional business areas, including CSR strategy, CSR communications including decoupling and greenwashing, environmental responsibilities, corporate and transnational governance, and global supply chains. 

Description of the teaching methods
Theoretical and thematic material is discussed through interactive lectures, where students are expected to have read the prescribed readings and participate in class discussions.

Students work concretely with the theories and thematic issues and then learn to apply them in a specific case context. In each class, students will be part of a group that will be asked to discuss a specific set of questions with respect to the corporate case and make short group presentations. This will enable students to learn theory by application.
Feedback during the teaching period
For the period of teaching, individual feedback is offered during ‘office hours’ provided by the course instructor (see day and time on Canvas), and group feedback is provided during the student presentations.

Students are encouraged to ask questions or make comments in class, and form self-study groups to secure peer feedback on their work.

Student workload
Preparation 165 hours
Teaching 38 hours
Examination 24 hours
Expected literature

Preliminary list of readings:

  • Friedman, M. 1970. The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits. New York Times. 
  • Carroll, AB 1979. A three-dimensional conceptual model of corporate performance. Academy of Management Review, 4(4): 497-505.
  • Hoffman, M. (1984). General Introduction: Ethical Frameworks for Application in Business in Business Ethics: Readings and Cases in Corporate Morality, WMHoffman & JM Moore (Eds), McGraw-Hill.
  • Herzig, C., & Kühn, A.-L. 2017. Corporate Responsibility Reporting, in: Rasche, A., Morsing, M., & Moon, J. (Eds). Corporate Social Responsibility: Strategy, Communication, Governance. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK.
  • Rasche, A. 2009. A necessary supplement: what the UN Global is and is not. Business and Society, 48(4): 511-53.
  • Mitchell, RK, Agle, BR & 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.
  • AccountAbility. 2015. AA1000 Stakeholder engagement standard (2015).
  • Porter, ME, & Kramer, MR 2011. Creating Shared Value. Harvard Business Review, 89(1/2): 62-77.
  • Crane, A, Palazzo, G, Spence, L & Matten, D. 2014. Contesting the value of 'Creating Shared Value', California Management Review, 56(2): 130-153.
  • Delmas, MA & Burbano, VC 2011. The Drivers of Greenwashing. California Management Review 54: 64-87.
  • Lund-Thomsen, P., Lindgreen, A., & Vanhamme, J. 2016. Industrial clusters and corporate social responsibility in developing countries: what we know, what we don't know, and what we need to know. Journal of Business Ethics, 133(1): 9-24.
  • Stout, L. (2013). The shareholder value myth. Cornell Law Faculty Publications.

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

  • 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 Business, 56(2), 101149.

  • Jain, T. (2017). Decoupling corporate social orientations: A cross-national analysis. Business & Society, 56(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, LT, Morsing, M., & Thyssen, O. (2013). CSR as aspirational talk. Organization, 20(3), 372-393.

Last updated on 02-04-2024