Managing Sustainable Corporations (CBS FT MBA)

This course is taught within the FT MBA program at CBS. It aims at combining theoretical debates around key concepts like CSR, sustainability, and accountability with practical reflections on social and environmental issues.

The course is divided into three main parts. The first, focuses on the different ways in which we can, fundamentally, approach discussions around responsibility and sustainability. Starting from a discussion of individual responsibility and responsible leadership, it goes on to show how CSR and sustainability also need to be seen as embedded concerns that are related to national institutional frameworks, norms and values. And how we, on top of that, increasingly need to consider these matters in a global context and as being affected by various modes of global governance, including the UN Global Compact.

The second part more explicitly addresses Managing Responsible Business Practices. We look at a variety of empirical “issues”, such as taxation, labor rights and corruption, which firms need to address in their day-to-day business whenever they manage for CSR and sustainability. The key aim is to understand (a) what makes these issues relevant for businesses (e.g. in how far do they represent risks), (b) how existing legal and non-legal frameworks influence firms’ responsibilities vis-à-vis these issues, and (c) what firms can do to manage their responsibilities in these areas. This part closes with a session on sustainability and circular economy where we will explore new business models.

The third part, Communicating Responsible Behavior, discusses how firms can communicate with different stakeholders when it comes to corporate responsibility and sustainability. The first session explores the relevance and legal status of sustainability reporting. The next session gives you an introduction to new theoretical frameworks that discuss the interaction between CSR talk and CSR action. Finally, we look into how to communicate with investors (both asset owners and asset managers) about topics relevant to corporate responsibility and sustainability.

The Corporation in Society (CBS BSc)

This course is taught at the undergraduate level and is positioned as an introductory course to debates around Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and related concepts. The course explores the changing role of business in global society by looking at how firms increasingly interact with actors in the non-market environment, including, but not limited to: governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), social movements, and international organizations. The main aim of the course is to enable students to understand how businesses are affected by and affect many of today’s societal challenges, such as: corruption, climate change, poverty, and human rights.

The course starts with a theoretically grounded introduction of the debate around CSR and related concepts. This introduction frames the overall debate and familiarizes students with key terminology. Next, students will apply these theoretical insights to discuss corporations’ responsibilities with regard to selected issue areas (e.g. labor rights in global supply chains). Finally, students learn about how and why business firms increasingly interact with governmental and non-governmental actors (e.g. via public-private partnerships).

Corporate Sustainability (CBS Executive MBA)

This course looks at how business practitioners can show leadership for corporate social responsibility (CSR). It thus has a very practical angle. While the course gives an introduction to CSR, it also reaches beyond some of the more traditional debates, as it (a) highlights the regulatory and political context shaping and constraining responsible business decisions and (b) emphasizes how leaders can use management and governance systems to enable responsible conduct. The course is divided into four parts, all of which discuss factors that need to be considered when leading corporations in a responsible manner.

The first part frames the theoretical and practical debate around CSR and distinguishes it from related concepts (e.g. corporate sustainability and citizenship). We discuss why firms engage in CSR and how they align their CSR policies with broader corporate strategy. We also look into different types of actors relevant to the CSR discussion, mostly NGOs, consumers, and investors. The second part contextualizes what we discussed during the first part by looking into a very specific CSR issue: corruption. We discuss what corruption is, why (most) people see it as a problem, and what firms can do to fight corruption.

The third part explores how CSR can be managed within firms. We first discuss the relevance of CSR reporting and review some legal regulations. We then discuss how CSR can be integrated into corporate governance, mostly by debating the role of Boards of Directors. Finally, we explore why firms often sign up to CSR labels and certifications, and how such standards shape internal CSR practices. The fourth part (day four) provides a forum to discuss another specific CSR problem: labor rights in global supply chains. It shows that firms often struggle to manage CSR ‘beyond’ their own corporate borders.