The Changing Business Environment

Module description


This module helps set the scene for the One Planet MBA as a whole by introducing the main themes of the programme.  It is designed to enhance your ability to understand the rapidly evolving and complex business context, and the scale of global sustainability challenges and opportunities from environmental, social, economic and technical perspectives; as well as encourage critical reflection on the role of business in the twenty-first century, in a contested transition to a more equitable, prosperous and resilient economy.

Additional Information

  • Internationalisation: This module takes a global view of the rapidly changing business environment.
  • Employability: This module will help you to articulate the business case for sustainability for the benefit of potential employers and also improve your communication and debating skills.
  • Sustainability: The module explores ‘sustainability’ from the point of view of both risks and business opportunities, as a driver of new forms of value creation.
  • Corporate Engagement: Guest speakers from companies such as: Coca Cola, Lafarge, IKEA, Interface, HSBC, 3M, Accenture, and The Fableists, will contribute to the module. 

Full module specification

Module title:The Changing Business Environment
Module code:MBAM801
Module level:M
Academic year:2014/5
Module lecturers:
  • Jean-paul Jeanrenaud - Lecturer
  • Dr Sally Jeanrenaud - Convenor
Module credit:12
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 1:

4 days (+ study over 10 wks)

Module aims

The module aims to: (1) explore the scale of sustainability challenges (from ecological, social and economic perspectives), and examine how these pose both risks and opportunities for business; (2) encourage multicultural, interdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder exchange and learning within the classroom; (3) explore how business and the economy are co-evolving in response to global challenges in the contested transition to a more equitable, prosperous, and resilient world; (4) leverage WWF’s experience and partnerships with leading companies, governments and civil society, for case studies and guest speakers. 

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. demonstrate a clear understanding of the global nexus of ecological, social, and economic challenges facing society, and the risks and opportunities for business today.
  • 2. demonstrate a clear understanding of the complexity, interconnectedness and interdependency of global systems.
  • 3. demonstrate a clear understanding of different stakeholder perspectives and their relevance to business in building shared values.
  • 4. demonstrate a clear understanding of ideas of sustainable development, and key sustainable business concepts.
  • 5. demonstrate a clear understanding of the business case for sustainability, and how sustainability is driving innovation and new forms of value.
  • 6. demonstrate a clear understanding of the co-evolution of business and society and the contribution business can make in the transition to a more prosperous, equitable and resilient world.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 7. demonstrate a critical awareness of current problems and new insights in the sustainable development debate and their relevance to business.
  • 8. apply theoretical arguments and concepts to the analysis of empirical case studies.
  • 9. apply knowledge and understanding to evaluate alternative solutions to business dilemmas.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 10. demonstrate individual research skills and undertake independent learning.
  • 11. develop capacity to work in multicultural and multidisciplinary teams.
  • 12. develop emotional intelligence and enhance respect in working with people and nature.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities25Lectures, Seminars, Workshops
Experiential Learning7Visits to companies
Guided Independent Study88Reading, research, writing

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Reflective PresentationsIn class (total per day =60 minutes)1-6, 11-12Oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Assignment (individual)702500 words1-10Written Feedback
Debate/Presentation (group)3015 minutes1-9, 11-12Written Feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Individual + group assignmentIndividual assignment1-11Six weeks after briefing

Re-assessment notes

The new assignment will have a brief which contains a different emphasis to the initial assignment

Syllabus plan

This 4-day module critically explores the nexus of global environmental, social and economic challenges facing society, and the implications for understanding business risks and opportunities. The module explores how business and economy are co-evolving in the contested transition to what is variously called Capitalism 2.0, including the circular economy, sharing economy, green economy, or the shift from ego to eco-system economies.  This is explored through 10 major trends, relating to business purpose, growth, capital, governance, nature, manufacturing, markets, technologies, metrics and globalization. It introduces a number of key sustainable business concepts such as the triple bottom line, the business case for corporate sustainability, and creating shared value, etc. The module uses case studies and external speakers to explore how sustainability is driving innovation and generating new forms of value. It also encourages you to reflect on your personal contribution to a more equitable, prosperous and resilient world. 

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Porter, M.E, and Kramer, M.R. (2011) Creating Shared Value. Harvard Business Review. January- February 2011.

Sukhdev, P. (2012): Corporation 2020. Transforming Business for Tomorrow’s World. London: Island Press.

UNEP (2013): GEO-5 for Business. Impacts of a Changing Environment on the Corporate Sector. Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Environment Programme.

Willard, B. (2012): The New Sustainability Advantage: Seven Business Case Benefits of a Triple Bottom Line. Gabriola Island, BC. Canada: New Society Publishers.

WWF (2014) Living Planet Report 2014. Species and Spaces, People and Places. Gland, Switzerland: WWF International.

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