Corporate Social Responsibility

Strategic Sustainability Management

 Responsible for module: Prof. Dr. Joern Hoppmann
 Additional lecturer: -
 Teaching format: Lectures and seminars
 Assessment: Portfolio (Seminar thesis, presentation, and online learning)
 ECTS credits: 6 (= 4 hours per semester week)
 Frequency: annually in the summer semester

The module is offered in the following degree programs:

  • Master Sustainability Economics and Management ("accent" module 3 in the 2nd semester)
  • Master Management Consulting (basic module in the 2nd semester)
  • Master Business Administration: Management and Law (module in the specialization „Sustainability Management”)
  • can be selected as elective in other degree programs

Concept and content

The module "Strategic Sustainability Management" provides an overview of the debates on the role of firms for sustainable development from a strategic perspective. The first session will briefly introduce the historical debate on Corporate Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility and delineate important concepts. The following sessions will use concrete company case studies as a basis for a critical discussion of questions in the context of corporate sustainability that are of strategic importance for firms. Questions that will be discussed are, amongst others:

  • How can one determine whether a firm acts in a socially and ecologically sustainable way?
  • Which factors drive and hinder the diffusion of socially and ecologically superior solutions and companies in the market?
  • To which extent is there a conflict between firm and market growth on the one hand and sustainability on the other hand?
  • Which possibilities does a company have to deal with conflicts between social/ecological and economic goals?
  • How can existing firms and value chains be transformed toward sustainability?
  • What is the role of managers and boards of directors for organizational change toward sustainability?
  • How does the ownership and financial structure of firms influence their strategy toward sustainability?
  • In how far can cooperation and partnerships between organizations help integrate social and ecological aspects in firms?

In addition to discussing these questions by drawing on company case studies, students will be introduced to the corresponding theoretical concepts and frameworks in the academic literature. Also, students will be given the opportunity to test different strategies for implementing sustainability in organizations during a simulation, which allows them to gain first-hand insights into the emerging challenges. Toward the end of the course, students will apply and deepen the knowledge they have gathered over the semester by writing a seminar thesis.


The students should...

  • know and understand basic concepts, instruments and theories in the context of corporate sustainability and corporate social responsibility
  • be able to apply conceptual frameworks to analyze and critically question the sustainability of companies
  • develop options to improve the sustainability of companies and derive recommendations for their implementation in practice

Literature (optional)

Aguinis, H., & Glavas, A. (2012): What we know and don’t know about corporate social responsibility: A review and research agenda. Journal of Management, 38(4): 932-968.

Bansal, P., & DesJardine, M. R. (2014). Business sustainability: It is about time. Strategic Organization, 12(1), 70-78.

Geels, F. W. (2014). Regime resistance against low-carbon transitions: Introducing politics and power into the multi-level perspective. Theory, Culture & Society, 31(5), 21-40.

Ghisellini, P., Cialani, C., & Ulgiati, S. (2016). A review on circular economy: the expected transition to a balanced interplay of environmental and economic systems. Journal of Cleaner Production, 114, 11-32.

Hahn, T., Pinkse, J., Preuss, L., & Figge, F. (2015): Tensions in corporate sustainability: Towards an integrative framework. Journal of Business Ethics, 127(2): 297-316.

Hoppmann, J., Richert, M. & Busch, T. (2018): Not my business: How individuals‘ cognitive frames and role identities influence corporate sustainability. Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings 2017, 15212.

Hoppmann, J., Sakhel, A., Richert, M. (2018): With a little help from a stranger: The impact of external change agents on corporate sustainability investments, Business Strategy and the Environment, in press.

Liesen, A., Dietsche, C., & Gebauer, J. (2015). Successful non-growing companies. Working Paper.

Markard, J., Raven, R., & Truffer, B. (2012). Sustainability transitions: An emerging field of research and its prospects. Research Policy, 41(6), 955-967.

Sharma, S. (2000): Managerial interpretations and organizational context as predictors of corporate choice of environmental strategy. Academy of Management Journal, 43(4): 681-697.

Wry, T., & York, J. (2015): An identity based approach to social enterprise. Academy of Management Review, in press.

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