Sustainability Transitions and Innovation (MSB340)

The global challenges we are facing including the climate crisis, green restructuring, geopolitical tensions, and the need for further digitalization, impact firms‘ financial situations, and long-term growth strategies. As a response, they need to engage in and utilize a wide range of innovation. Consequently, to succeed in contemporary business life, it is essential to understand how technological shifts and global megatrends shape firms’ strategies, investment decisions, and day-to-day operations. Thereby, it is essential to realize that these shifts and trends simultaneously represent threats and opportunities. Either way, they call on firms to contribute to the transition towards a sustainable economy by means of innovation.

This course addresses the consequences of the transition towards a more sustainable economy for the development of individual businesses and for regional as well as national economies. The course delves into the strategies for sustainable transitions, the introduction of business model innovations, and the innovation-based transformation of economic systems. It features insights into the increased internationalization of innovation processes in ‘green’ sectors such as renewable energy and sustainable food production. The course extends the traditional firm-centered perspective by stressing the embeddedness of firms into sectoral, territorial, and institutional systems, with a focus on innovation processes.

In this course, students will be exposed to various cases for which they will discuss sustainability transitions from an innovation perspective.

Course description for study year 2023-2024. Please note that changes may occur.


Course code




Credits (ECTS)


Semester tution start


Number of semesters


Exam semester


Language of instruction


Learning outcome


  • You will have a profound overview of the most central theories and debates in the academic literature on sustainable development and innovation. 
  • You will have a comprehensive overview of the strategies and policies at different levels promoting sustainability transitions and innovation.  
  • You will acquire an understanding of firms’ dilemmas and balancing between internal and external stakeholder concerns, between financial returns to owners and societal costs and benefits.


  • You will learn to discuss cases of "sustainability transitions" and provide timely suggestions for how to tackle them from a business and policy perspective.
  • You improve your analytic skills and your ability to communicate them in a holistic manner. 

Required prerequisite knowledge



Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Portfolio 1/1 Letter grades All

The examination Much of the course will comprise case discussions of specific business cases about ESG related issues, in which the students will work in teams. The final grade is based on the assessment of a portfolio (individual assignment, group work).Rating expression: A-F Aids: All aids allowed.

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator:

Huiwen Gong

Study Program Director:

Yuko Onozaka

Method of work

Forms of work:

The subject will be organized in a combination of lectures, group discussion/work, seminars, and self-study. Students are expected to attend weekly lessons and participate actively in the teaching programme. Expected total work effort in the course is 187.5-225 hours (according to ECTS standard).

Course assessment

There must be an early dialogue between the course coordinator, the student representative and the students. The purpose is feedback from the students for changes and adjustments in the course for the current semester.In addition, a digital course evaluation must be carried out at least every three years. Its purpose is to gather the students experiences with the course.


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