Sustainable Business Practices (MSB325)
Is economic growth constrained by scarce resources or environmental policies? How do we utilise network resources in a sustainable manner? What is the best way to measure growth and how do we approach new technology in a green circular economy? What characterizes the relationship between governments and businesses in such economies? These are questions we will explore in this course. The course gives a thorough introduction to the literature on sustainable business strategies and practices. This is a cross-disciplinary field related to topics such as market analysis, institutional theory, resource economics, and business strategy.
Course description for study year 2023-2024. Please note that changes may occur.
Semester tution start
Number of semesters
Language of instruction
It is a long time since the notion of sustainability was confined to environmental policies and non-governmental organizations. Core business trends and strategies are increasingly related to sustainability considerations. This concerns both natural and social resources: Natural resources may be scarce, and the processing, distribution, and consumption of such resources may produce externalities that harm businesses operations. Social resources are also critical for businesses. They come in many forms: as employees and potential employees, strategic partners, suppliers, customers, as the general public, or as the property of a network covering one or more of these actors. This course provides a thorough introduction to the literature on sustainable business strategies and practices. This is a cross-disciplinary field related to topics such as market analysis, institutional theory, resource economics, and business strategy.
The course covers the following topics:
- How do you delineate sustainable business practices?
- How the development of the modern business entity and business model has impacted sustainability
- Race to the bottom and a level playing field: Sustainability policies and regulations
- Life cycle cost (LCC) and negative externalities
- Transaction costs, and supply chain management in a circular economy
- Corporate governance and leadership impacting sustainability.
- Sustainable business metrics and reporting
Upon completion of the course, students will have acquired a thorough understanding of:
• Definitions of "corporate social responsibility" and "sustainability", "exergy", and "entropy".
• A circular economy and life cycle costs, and of business cases
• The historic development of the business enterprise and early examples of sustainability debates.
• Drivers of and barriers to sustainable business strategies.
• The multilevel relationship between governments and businesses.
• The main alternatives and implications with regard to life cycle costs and externality costs.
• Current examples of sustainable business practices.
• International regulations and policies concerning sustainable business practices.
Upon completion of the course, students will be able to
• Participate in the academic debate on the "race to the bottom" and the "level playing field".
• Explain the dilemmas and challenges related to sustainable business leadership.
• Analyse and discuss sustainable business strategies
• Present various challenges concerning sustainable business practices using appropriate theoretical framework and business cases
Required prerequisite knowledge
|Form of assessment||Weight||Duration||Marks||Aid|
|Group assignment and presentation of group assignment||1/1||Letter grades|
The final group assignment, including an oral presentation, will conducted in groups of three people. The assignment should comprise 3000-5000 words. Students will be offered brief digital supervision as part of their work on the assignment. It is not possible to resit the exam.Grading will be based on the assessment of the written work by the group, and on their presentation of the assignment.
Before submitting the final group assignment, students need to fulfill the following coursework (chronological sequence):
- A group sketch describing your plans for the final group assignment submitted on Canvas.
- An individual assignment submitted on Canvas midway through the course.
- An oral presentation of the final group assignment.
All three coursework items are required in order to submit the final group assignment on Inspera.
Course coordinator:Thomas Laudal
Study Program Director:Yuko Onozaka
Method of work
The course will be delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars and feedback to written assignments. The seminars will include student presentations and discussions. Each student will be required to be part of the presentation of group assignment. All students are expected to read the required literature ahead of the seminars and to actively participate in discussions. The seminars will focus on case stories.
To be approved and ready for submission of the final assignment, the following requirements must be fulfilled (one retake is allowed):
- An outline indicating the topics and data sampling for the final assignment must be approved (pass/no pass)
- An individual assignment.
Grading in this course is based on a review of the group assignment (3,000-5,000 words) and an oral presentation of this assignment.
Estimated student workload:
1. Lectures: 26 hours
2. Seminar/exercise: 26 hours
3. Supervision (including peer-to-peer): 40 hours
4. Student's self studies: 120 hours
5. Written assignments: 80 hours
TOTAL 292 hours