Sustainable Business Development and Innovation: Introduction (MSB305)

No firm or organization operates in isolation. Rather the contrary is true. Via a multitude of complex relations to other agents and organizations, they are embedded in diverse sets of networks and socio-economic systems. This embeddedness thereby greatly matters for their business success and transition to more sustainable operations. For instance, it influences their access to critical inputs, such as human and financial capital as well as knowledge. Their embeddedness in local socio-economic systems takes center stage in this. In the end, most job hirings are local, the majority of production inputs are provided by nearby suppliers, and marketing, as well as distribution channels, are strongly shaped by access to transportation infrastructure and the activities of (local) branding initiatives as well as trade associations.

The course presents students with the scientific underpinnings of the beyond-the-individual-firm perspective that are at the heart of modern approaches to sustainable business development. Drawing on core concepts and insights from the fields of Regional Science and Economic Geography, as well as Complex System Theories, students will learn about and discuss the roles that locations, networks, and system embeddedness play in their developments and for their transformation toward more sustainable business practices. The course thereby forms the basis for the subsequent courses: SBDI: The firm perspective and SBDI: The policy 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



Subject areas that are most likely covered are:

  • A perspective beyond the boundaries of the firm
  • Classical theories of regional development (e.g., agglomeration, urbanization, polarization)
  • Modern theories of regional development (e.g., human capital, evolutionary, institutions, cluster, complexity)
  • Interfirm linkages, networks, and spillovers
  • Knowledge- and innovation-based economic development
  • Sustainability and transformation

Learning outcome


  • Students will learn:

    • How and why a system- and network-based perspective is crucial to understanding the development of firms, technologies, and territories
    • How and why economic activities locate in various ways in space
    • How and why externalities arise from agglomeration, urbanization, and learning networks
    • About the importance of knowledge and innovation for firms and regions development and their transition toward more sustainable business practices


  • Applying multilevel, network, and evolutionary thinking to economic problems
  • Working with and summarizing the contemporary academic literature
  • Assess regions‘ and firms‘ developments from a sustainability perspective

Required prerequisite knowledge


Recommended prerequisites

Appropriate bachelor background in core business fields.


In-class Group Presentation and Oral Examination

Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
In-class Group Presentation 1/2 Letter grades
Oral Examination 1/2 Letter grades

Coursework requirements

Compusory assignments
  • completed and handed in on time all individual & group assignments during the semester
  • contributed to and participated in (including presence during) the presentation of their group work

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator:

Tom Brökel

Course teacher:

Jason Deegan

Study Program Director:

Yuko Onozaka

Method of work

In this course, you will learn through a mixture of lectures, seminars, group work, and individual study. Lectures provide basic knowledge. The seminars are based on group work and are topic focused. They require active preparation and participation.

Overlapping courses

Course Reduction (SP)
Perspectives on Strategic Innovation (MØA305_1) 10

Open for

All master's study programs at the University of Stavanger.

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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