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2024/2025  KAN-CSOCV2402U  The Art of Leadership in Crisis

English Title
The Art of Leadership in Crisis

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
Max. participants 80
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Social Sciences
Course coordinator
  • Marta Gasparin - Department of Business Humanities and Law (BHL)
Main academic disciplines
  • Management
  • Leadership
  • Organisation
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 16-01-2024

Relevant links

Learning objectives
Students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Demonstrate thorough knowledge of practices and principles of ethics for decision making in crisis situations.
  • Analyse leadership decisions of strategic importance regarding organizational processes and practices.
  • Discuss and debate principles for managing crisis in relation to uncertain future
  • Critically evaluate knowledge of how the dynamics between management, leadership and entrepreneurship matters for decisions in perma-crisis
The Art of Leadership in Crisis:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Active participation

The completion of this course is based on active student participation in class. The course will be considered as passed if the students participation - based on an overall assessment - in the class activities fulfill the learning objectives of the course. The individual student’s participation is assessed by the teacher.
The student must participate in A combination of assignment and presentation
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Grading scale Pass / Fail
Examiner(s) Assessed solely by the teacher
Exam period Winter and Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam Home assignment - written product
Size of written product: Max. 5 pages
Assignment type: Written assignment
Duration: 24 hours to prepare
Description of activities
A combination of assignment and presentation: The students will be partecipate in group discussions and produce a video/digital presentation at the end of the course
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

The opening decades of the twenty first century have been dominated with a series of crises: natural crisis, energy crisis, financial crisis, resource scarcity, refugee crisis, pandemics and ecological crisis. The ability to lead organizations through severe and unprecedented crises has become a critical core competency. But what if these crises were not separate and limited but interlinked and ongoing? How can leadership respond to a deepening and perpetual permacrisis? Many of our existing theories of organization and management are simply not fit for the task of addressing generalized permacrises. We need to challenge existing paradigms, leadership and organizational approaches in order to build new organizational thinking to understand the challenges we are living in. In this course, we will develop critical thinking to approach the crisis within organizations and develop competences in understanding contemporary and future challenges. 

Contemporary approaches to organization and leadership often assume ideas around stability and progress, where a better future can be imagined on the basis of memories of some aspects of the past. Generations born either side of the millennium face an uncertain and unpredictable future and have no memory of a world that was not confronting one crisis or another. This course will focus on the lived experience of working, living and leading through crisis. It will explore organizations from the inside – what it feels like to be in the crush zone of managing crisis, how to handle ethical dilemmas when there are competing and irreconcilable values, the challenges of developing strategy when the future is difficult to imagine. To do this, the course will use films and documentaries as primary resources. Each week students and staff will watch a different movie together which will form the basis for the class discussions. The assessment will also be based around the production of a creative product, such as a short video or curated set of images which will demonstrate ways of understanding crisis from the inside.

The course will be structured around a series of dimensions through which crisis is experienced: health, wellbeing and psychological safety; justice, diversities and equality; sustainability, species responsibilities and environmental anxiety; organizational memory and imagined futures. These dimensions reflect the reality that many existing organizational functions, such as Occupational Safety & Health, Equality Diversity and Inclusion, and Sustainability, can no longer be meaningfully separated. The existing and emerging permacrises faced by organizations combine many issues together in a way that is not currently well addressed in contemporary theories of management and organization. The ability to lead through permacrisis will fundamentally involve creative thinking across existing organizational divisions and functions.

This course aims to teach students the skills, critical thinking and theoretical knowledge needed to lead changes and address crisis within organizations. In that process, students will engage with theories and practices related to organization theory, leadership, well-being, new business models and ethics to think within dilemmas. Studentswill learn how to make decisions and face ethical dilemmas in critical situations. 


Description of the teaching methods
The course consists of viewing of films, following by in-class discussions and group work.
Feedback during the teaching period
Students receive feedback from the instructor and peers during the course of highly interactive discussions after movies views, in small groups and in plenary. By participating in discussions, students practice the skill of making arguments based on course literature, supporting and defending their perspectives. Feedback will also be offered on the basis of group exercises, where we reflect together on learning experiences, and in preparation for the final presentation.
Student workload
Participation in watching movies and discuss them during the lectures 33 hours
Preparation watching the movies and lectures, e.g. reading and reflection 132 hours
Final presentation, including preparation 41 hours
Further Information

The course is part of the minor 'Building Organizations for Sustainable Futures: Business and Economics in Transformation', but can also be selected individually.

Expected literature

Literature will be published in published in Canvas. 

Indicative Literature: 


Damian O’Doherty, 2020: The Leviathan of Rationality: Using Film to Develop Creativity and Imagination in Management Learning and Education. AMLE, 19, 366–384


Marta Gasparin, Steven D. Brown, William Green, Andrew Hugill, Simon Lilley, Martin Quinn, Christophe Schinckus, Mark Williams, and Jan Zalasiewicz, 2020: The Business School in the Anthropocene: Parasite Logic and Pataphysical Reasoning for a Working Earth. AMLE, 19, 385–405, https:/​/​doi.org/​10.5465/​amle.2019.0199


Mora-Gámez, F. and S.D. Brown 2019. The psychosocial management of human rights restitution: Reparation in post-conflict Colombia. Theory & Psychology, 29(4): 521-538 DOI: 10.1177/0959354319863136


Brown, S.D. 2020. Journal of a plague year. Memory Studies. 13(4):363-366.


Brown, S.D. and P. Reavey 2019. Vital spaces and mental health. BMJ: Medical Humanities. 45(2): 131–140.


Lam W., Shao B,  Newman A., Schwarz G (2021). Crisis leadership: A review and future research agenda. The Leadership Quarterly, 2(6),101518


Klebe, L., Felfe, J. and Klug, K. (2021), Healthy Leadership in Turbulent Times: The Effectiveness of Health-Oriented Leadership in Crisis. Brit J Manage, 32: 1203-1218. https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1111/​1467-8551.12498


Last updated on 16-01-2024