436501 VU Corporate Sustainability

summer semester 2020 | Last update: 03.03.2020 Place course on memo list
VU Corporate Sustainability
VU 2
each semester

This module, combining VU and PS, aims at providing students with a solid understanding of the strategic, organizational and ethical implications of corporate sustainability. Adopting a business oriented perspective, the course intends to familiarize participants with the complexity of these decisions, and with the business opportunities resulting from a proper stakeholder management approach. At the end of the course students will be expected to:

- Know the meaning of some core concepts such as corporate sustainability, CSR, sustainable development, stakeholder management, etc.;

- Gain an in-depth theoretical understanding of the components and interrelations of economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable strategies and related organizational implementation decisions

- Critically evaluate and compare different theories on sustainability and sustainable strategies

- Be able to analyze the linkages between financial, social and environmental performance;

- Chart ‘real-life’ practices of sustainable business opportunities and threats as well as learn from real world examples, cases and company presentations that illustrate how to put sustainability into practice;

- Develop the skills to analyze a problem and to find solutions relevant to the implementation of sustainability strategies in different settings;

- Develop skills to effectively conduct case studies

This course takes a strategic perspective on corporate sustainability. As such, it starts with clarifying what strategy is, i.e. the process that aims at identifying an organization’s fundamental long-term objectives and defining those courses of actions that are most likely to deliver those objectives. Corporate strategy refers to the overall scope and direction of the company, which markets to be in, how firm’s businesses are defined to work together, and how to grow. Within these boundaries, companies decide on their business strategies, this is how to compete (e.g. via differentiation or cost leading strategies) at the markets. The crucial point is, that such key strategic decisions define which stakeholders (Freeman, 1984) are affected and which resources are needed. In fact, the decisions managers make in this respect play a fundamental role in determining the evolution of the firm itself and its socio-ecological system towards (or away from) sustainable development. Against this backdrop, for many years now, companies face the challenge of sustainability. The concept of sustainability is generally referred to as the capacity of a system to develop in ways that do not undermine its own long-term viability. In the context of business, this translates to a corporate development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability for future generations to meet their own needs. The UN sustainable development goals, ecological problems such as planetary boundaries and climate change, globalization of supply chains, stakeholder demands, as well as growing social and ethical conflicts affect business and decision-making processes in firms. Consequently, companies are increasingly required to respond to these challenges. One way of doing this is the firm’s strategic pursuit of social and ecological objectives in addition to the classic economic goals, which is commonly referred to as corporate sustainability (or other "buzzwords" like inclusive business, corporate (social) responsibility, and shared value creation). But how does a strategy to achieve corporate sustainability really look like? What could be adequate organizational responses and practices in this context? Following this line of reasoning, this course is built on the fundamental premise that implementing corporate sustainability and thus, moving towards a sustainable way of doing business, is primarily a strategic and organizational problem.

We accomplish the course objectives through the following teaching methods. The first part (“VU”) is characterized by engaging students in active learning, based on theoretical foundations, highly interactive lectures, case studies coupled with plenary discussions, and by providing evidences thanks to managers’ leadership examples. The second part (“PS”) is dedicated to an in-depth case study, to be developed by students in form of a short paper and a presentation, with the help of feedback (by peers and instructor). It is absolutely necessary that students prepare all sessions according to the syllabus.


VU: Active participation in class, for quality of student’s contributions during lectures and field trip, and for quality of small case assignments in class, per individual person (50%) and per small group works (50%)

PS: Quality of the group assignments, i.e. paper, poster/ppt. (per group, 70%) and quality of the oral presentation and the subsequent discussion in Q&A (per individual student, 30%)

The final grade for the module will be combined of the grade of VU and the grade of PS.

To pass, students have to reach 60% in both, VU and in PS.








It is absolutely necessary that students prepare all sessions according to the syllabus (pre-reading), as the grade depends significantly on that. The syllabus and literature will be available before semester start in OLAT.

Depending on the progress in the course, the content structure (see syllabus) might be subject to change. Cases in the syllabus marked with * are subject to license fees (to be paid by students). Instructions on how to get the cases will be given before class.

abgeschlossener erster Studienabschnitt, sehr gute Englischkenntnisse

not applicable

 Please make sure that you check your university email account. All communication will be done via your uibk.ac.at email addresses.





see dates
10.03.2020 12:00-18:45, Fieldtrip
Group 0
Date Time Location
Mon 2020-03-09
14.00 - 16.45 SR 11 (Sowi) SR 11 (Sowi) Barrier-free
Tue 2020-03-10
08.00 - 10.00 SR 16 (Sowi) SR 16 (Sowi) Barrier-free
Tue 2020-03-10
12.00 - 18.45 HS 1 (Sowi) HS 1 (Sowi) Barrier-free
Thu 2020-03-12
08.00 - 12.45 UR 2 (Sowi) UR 2 (Sowi) Barrier-free
Tue 2020-03-17
08.00 - 11.45 SR 12 (Sowi) SR 12 (Sowi) Barrier-free