Over the last few years, sustainable development has increasingly become a key imperative for businesses. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by world leaders in 2015, showcase universally applicable targets intended to mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities, and tackle climate change. While the SDGs are not legally binding, countries are expected to take ownership and establish national frameworks aimed to achieve the goals. Furthermore, all stakeholders including governments, civil society, the private sector, and others are demanded to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. Consequently, businesses are supposed to play an integral part in contributing to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In this course, we look at these developments and how businesses – both those operating within as well as across countries – are affected by the imperative for sustainable development. Due to institutional and cultural variation across countries as well as diverse stages of economic development, the SDGs are likely to have diverse priorities across societies affecting, in turn, the specific demands for businesses to contribute to sustainable development. Comprehending these dissimilarities while still understanding the universal need for sustainable development – and in this way embracing the paradox of sustainable development – is key for successful future international business.
Through the lens of sustainable development, we aim to look at institutional and cultural variations across countries in order to derive the varying demands and expectations toward businesses both operating within and across societies. You will learn about the phenomenon of sustainable development as well as about cultural and institutional variation across societies both from a theoretical a practical perspective – the latter in particular by means of a hands-on society-analysis research project. You will thus be equipped with skills and competencies helping you to analyze and understand global markets.
After the course, you will
- have understood the phenomenon of sustainable development – demarcated from concepts like corporate responsibility – as well as reasons for its increasing demand over the last few years and why businesses are expected to contribute to achieving the SDGs
- have learned to evaluate institutional environments systematically by means of business systems analysis
- have learned to investigate cultural environments systematically by means of comparative cultural analysis
- have derived and developed approaches and strategies how businesses within and across societies can contribute to sustainable development and which role they might play in helping reach the SDGs
- have engaged in an in-depth society-analysis research project
- have learned to embrace global-local paradoxes in the context of sustainable development
The course emphasizes the training and development of the following skills and competencies:
- Systemic and analytical thinking: You will be trained to establish both a holistic view on business systems and societies in order to understand how the various elements influence one another within a whole as well as an analytical view enabling you to understand specific cause-effect relationships. Therefore, you are stimulated to think in both linear and non-linear ways simultaneously.
- Research skills and abilities: You will be exposed to a hands-on society-analysis research project and in this way learn how to systematically analyze countries and societies by means of both qualitative and quantitative approaches.
- Emic and etic perspective taking: You will experience both emic, from within-society views as well as etic, from outside-society views. In this way, you are encouraged to assume different perspectives on the same phenomenon, potentially helping you to derive more valuable solutions toward sustainable development.
- Embracing paradoxes: You will learn to accept paradoxes in the context of sustainable development but also, and even more importantly, you will learn to embrace these paradoxes in order to develop groundbreaking approaches supporting sustainable development.
- Presentation and writing skills: Through your society-analysis research project you will train your presentation skills as well as your writing abilities as you report on your key findings.
Attendance is a firm requirement of this course as many of the learning experiences take place during class and through interactions with peers. The attendance requirement is met if students are present for at least 80% of the scheduled sessions. Students who fail to meet the attendance requirement are de-registered from the course. Missing sessions will affect class participation credits and may also affect other graded components realized during class.
You will learn about sustainable development across societies and the implications for businesses operating within and across countries by means of a combination of lectures on sustainable development, cultural and institutional analysis as well as a hands-on society-analysis research project. Theory is intended to provide a good foundation for you so that you apply what you have learned and go beyond in your society-analysis research project. Coaching supports you as you successfully conduct your research.
50% individual assessment
- 20% active class participation
- 20% mid-course exam
- 10% peer evaluation
50% group assessment
- 20% society-analysis research project – presentation
- 20% society-analysis research project – final report (max 8 pages)
- 10% coaching questions
Completed IB Foundations and Applications
Dr. Christof Miska
Office hours: Tuesdays 08:00 - 10:00 a.m. (Building D1, 5th floor, entrance via the IIB front office on the 3rd floor)
Readings are being announced in due time and mainly include a range of selected academic articles. These are being distributed via learn@wu and/or can be downloaded from the online library resources as soon as the reading list has been announced.