Sustainable Business Development and Innovation: The firm perspective (MSB416)

Solving Sustainable Development Goals through innovations become a priority of modern European society. Innovations do create values, but the question is for whom? It could be the commercial value that drives innovation, however, increasingly, we acknowledge that innovations are introduced to solve societal or environmental challenges. Today’s most successful firms compete mainly through innovation, whether in the form of continuous development of new products, improvement of processes or organizational forms, or identification of new markets. In order to survive in the knowledge economy, firms need strategies for what kind of innovations to pursue and how to promote innovation by designing the necessary preconditions. In this context, acknowledging that innovation is far more than just a bright idea and that it demands knowledge, resources, and time allocation to manage innovation processes becomes a cornerstone of innovation success and competitive advantage for any organization. Through this course, students will develop a critical perspective of the firm strategies for the continuous management of the sustainable innovation process in organizations. Through investigation of the innovation processes in real private or public organizations during the course, students will acquire skills in addressing innovation challenges on the firm level. Students enrolled in this course will have to analyze and suggest some solutions to address one of the sustainability-related challenges in the regional or international organization through the execution of the Challange-Based Learning (CBL) approach. CBL includes techniques to identify, analyze and address real-life challenges. Thus, students will get the opportunity to work in close collaboration with companies in the region of Stavanger.

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


Course code




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Semester tution start


Number of semesters


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The course will take up the following topics:

  • Sustainability-oriented innovation
  • Exploring innovation space
  • Searching for innovation opportunities
  • Selecting innovation opportunities
  • Agile implementation
  • Capturing value
  • Innovation strategy
  • Building innovative organization
  • Learning and building capability

Learning outcome


Through the course, students will develop a solid understanding of the scholarly debate on innovation in the management sciences, including:

  • The importance of innovation to firms
  • Identifying strategic capabilities
  • Sources and the process of innovation
  • Strategies for innovation
  • Sustainability-oriented innovation


Students will be able to:

  • Present and critically assess different scholarly theories and hypotheses, as well as strategy and/or policy statements, related to sustainable innovation
  • Conduct an analysis of the drivers and/or outcomes of innovation in real firms
  • Discuss different strategies for promoting innovation in a firm
  • Contribute to the management of a firm’s innovation process
  • Identify and find solution for 10 most common innovation challanges

Required prerequisite knowledge



Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Group (max. 4 students) or Individual Written Assignment 1/1 1 Semesters Letter grades

Coursework requirements

70% compulsory attendance of in-person seminars and workshops, Presentation of theory-supplied cases, Presentation of own work related to real-life case

This course applied the flipped-learning approach. This implies that all theoretical parts will be provided to students via the freely accessible digital portal for self-learning, followed by in-person seminars. The digital portal comprises 10 modules each consisting of 3-4 themes. Video materials, podcasts, cases, book text and exercises are available for students 24/7. At seminars students will have to discuss and reflect on materials. Additionally, there will be two 2-days workshops (half-day events)

Mandatory activities:

70% compulsory attendance of in-person seminars and workshops (Karakterregel: Godkjent)

Presentation of theory-supplied cases (Karakterregel: Godkjent)

Presentation of own work related to real-life case (Karakterregel: Godkjent)

Course teacher(s)

Course teacher:

Hong Huang

Course teacher:

John Robert Bessant

Study Program Director:

Yuko Onozaka

Method of work

The course is a flipped-learning course, which implies ten pre-recorded lectures followed by in-person seminars where students will have to discuss provided teaching cases in light of theories. Further, this course applied Challenge Based Learning technique. This means that students will be urged to work with real companies to identify innovation-related challenges, such as searching for and selecting innovative ideas, structuring a smooth innovation process, challenges of portfolio management, and the like. As a part of this course, they would need to investigate these challenges and suggest solutions in light of learned theories. Before each seminar, students must review the required online materials, including videos, podcasts, and reading materials. Active participation during seminars and workshops is expected. There will be three workshops - an ideation stage workshop, a facts-stage workshop, and a solution-stage workshop to help students implement the Challenge-Based Learning approach.

The final deliverable will be a written report at the end of the course. In addition, students will have the opportunity to submit a draft report to get feedback before the final submission.

Expected workload: 250-300 hours

Lectures: 60 hours

Self-study: 100 hours

Assignments - including contact with firms: 120 hours

Overlapping courses

Course Reduction (SP)
Strategies for Innovation Management (MØA416_1) 10
Business Development and Innovation (ECS110_1) 5

Open for

The course is open to all Master's students within the University of Stavanger.

Course assessment

There must be an early dialogue between the course supervisor, the student union 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 subject evaluation must be carried out at least every three years. Its purpose is to gather the students experiences with the course.


The syllabus can be found in Leganto