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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 2022-2023. Please note that changes may occur.

Facts
Course code

MSB325

Version

1

Credits (ECTS)

10

Semester tution start

Autumn

Number of semesters

1

Exam semester

Autumn

Language of instruction

English

Content

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:

  1. How do you delineate sustainable business practices?
  2. How the development of the modern business entity and business model has impacted sustainability
  3. Race to the bottom and a level playing field: Sustainability policies and regulations 
  4. Life cycle cost (LCC) and negative externalities
  5. Transaction costs, and supply chain management in a circular economy
  6. Corporate governance and leadership impacting sustainability.
  7. Sustainable business metrics and reporting
Learning outcome

Knowledge:

Upon completion of the course, students will have acquired a thorough understanding of:

  • Definitions of "corporate social responsibility" and "sustainability", "exergy", and "entropy".
  • 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.

Skills:

Upon completion of the course, students will:

  • Understand the academic debate on the "race to the bottom" and the "level playing field".
  • Have thorough knowledge of examples of a circular economy and life cycle costs, and of business cases that explain the dilemmas and challenges related to sustainable business leadership.
  • Have experience of analysing and discussing sustainable business strategies.
Required prerequisite knowledge
None
Exam

Group assignment and presentation of group assignment

Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Group assignment 3/5 Letter grades
resentation of group assignment 2/5 Letter grades

The written 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 the individual contribution of each member of the group to the presentation of the assignment.

Coursework requirements
15 minutes presentation in a group session at one of the seminars, A sketch of the assignment

There are two coursework requirements:

1. A sketch of the assignment that must be approved by the lecturer 

2. A 15-minute presentation in a group session during one of the seminars. The manuscript (Word file) for this presentation needs to be approved by the lecturer in advance.

Course teacher(s)
Course coordinator: Thomas Laudal
Study Program Director: Yuko Onozaka
Method of work

The course will be delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars and written assignments. The seminars will include student presentations and discussions. Each student will be required to be part of the presentation of assignments. 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).
  • 2. A 15-minute presentation in a group session at one of the seminars. The manuscript (Word file) for this presentation needs to be approved by the lecturer in advance.

Grading in this course is based on a review of the final assignment (3,000-5,000 words) and an oral presentation based on the final assignment.

Estimated student workload:

1. Lectures: 26 hours

2. Seminar/exercise: 26 hours

3. Supervision: 40 hours

4. Student's self studies: 120 hours

5. Written assignments: 80 hours

TOTAL 292 hours

Open for
All master's study programs at the University of Stavanger.
Course assessment
Students will have the opportunity to give feedback on the course first in an early dialogue, and then in a written course evaluation at the end of the course.
Literature
The syllabus can be found in Leganto