Sustainability, CSR and Business Ethics
One of the key questions facing society, the environment and the global economy is how can we continue to survive in an ethical and sustainable way?
The challenge for students of management is how can this be achieved? The answer, many argue, is via the concept of sustainability and it’s practical implementation through the adoption of Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Sustainable and ethical approaches to development and business management have been growing in popularity over the past two decades. Initially, starting out as a perceived niche response to the negative impacts of unplanned, unmanaged mass production, sustainability is now (some would argue) on it’s way to becoming a fully integrated management approach, adopted by many mainstream businesses in their everyday business practice and as the central value proposition to many new business models. But why? What is a sustainable management approach and how is it achieved? Employers are increasingly looking for people who have an understanding of sustainability, business ethics and CSR, which is why you need to study this topic.
This module will enable you to develop the knowledge and skills to understand, articulate, critique and apply the theory behind sustainable and ethical approaches to business management. We will explore a variety of companies’ attempts to integrate sustainable approaches into their everyday business practices. By exploring the theory and examining the practice from a range of sectors we will investigate how and why people have chosen to adopt sustainable approaches to the way in which they do business. To be written to the student describing the distinctive features of the Module and any unique activities or opportunities. Why a student should take this module
Full module specification
|Module title:||Sustainability, CSR and Business Ethics|
None – note this is for Management MSc students only
|Duration of module:||
Duration (weeks) - term 1: |
Studying Sustainability, Business Ethics and CSR will equip you with the knowledge and skills to be able to apply these concepts to everyday business management practice. By examining case studies from a range of sectors we will explore how and why businesses have chosen to adopt sustainable approaches. We will enable you to critique and understand phrases such as : ‘cradle to cradle’, ‘CSR’, ‘Ethical Consumers’, ‘Ethical Business’, ‘Slow Business Movements’, ‘One for One’ business Models, ‘act local think global’ as well as many others.
By the end of this module you will have the confidence and skills to engage with industry professionals, policy makers and fellow academics in an informed manner, secure in the knowledge that you understand some of the challenges facing society, the environment and the global economy from a sustainable management perspective. You never know it might lead to a valuable specialism for you in your future career, or the knowledge gained through this module might just give you the edge in a crucial interview. An understanding of Sustainability, Business Ethics and CSR is increasingly being asked for as a desirable requirement by graduate employers.
ILO: Module-specific skills
- 1. critically consider the origins of the terms, definitions and underlying theories related to sustainability, business ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR);
- 2. explain how businesses have attempted to adopt sustainable development approaches to their everyday management practices;
- 3. develop academic arguments around key issues in the global sustainable development and sustainable business debate;
- 4. assess the role of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship in the design of sustainable management solutions.
ILO: Discipline-specific skills
- 5. investigate some of the ethical dimensions of international; management, governance, and responsibility;
- 6. demonstrate an understanding of the interrelationships between Business, Society and the Environment and think holistically about implementing transformative change;
- 7. analyse the links between international policy and local action by commercial enterprises in their attempts to implement sustainable development principles;
- 8. critique the need and causes for change, assess the role of push and pull factors at play in building sustainable approaches to business.
ILO: Personal and key skills
- 9. demonstrate high levels of critical thinking and research skills while drawing upon a range of data sources from both academic and applied contexts;
- 10. draft and present reports which would be acceptable in a commercial context;
- 11. utilise skills in rigorous academic, research, analysis, argument development, design and presentation;
- 12. share ideas and experiences from different disciplines/places/cultures/generations without prejudice and preconception;
- 13. think creatively about managing information in a digital world, to tight deadlines with competing pressures and demands.
Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)
|Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities||Guided independent study||Placement / study abroad|
Details of learning activities and teaching methods
|Category||Hours of study time||Description|
|Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity||22||Lectures: 11 x 2 hour lectures led by Module Lead|
|Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity||5||Seminars: 5 x 1 hour seminars. Collaborative class participation led by Module lead with guest speakers on occasions|
|Guided Independent Study||123||Research, reading, analysis and writing of assignments. Approx. 2 hours per lecture and one hour per seminar to pre-read lecture/seminar slides and follow through on reading links embedded in the lecture slides as directed by the module lead. On occasion the module lead will direct reading to a specific article which needs reading ahead of a seminar session. Students should have read through the lecture slides ahead of the class in order to be prepared for in class discussions. All slides are available on ELE ahead of class for this purpose.|
|Form of assessment||Size of the assessment (eg length / duration)||ILOs assessed||Feedback method|
|Essay outline plan for academic paper||1 page plan (approx 500 words)||1-9 and 11-13||Verbal|
|Report outline plan for business report||1 page plan (approx 500 words)||1-13||Verbal|
|Participation in group discussions and presentations in seminars and lectures||Varying||1-13||Verbal|
Summative assessment (% of credit)
|Coursework||Written exams||Practical exams|
Details of summative assessment
|Form of assessment||% of credit||Size of the assessment (eg length / duration)||ILOs assessed||Feedback method|
|Academic essay||50||2,000||1-9 and 11-13||Written|
|Business Report style Assignment||50||3,000||1-13||Written|
Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)
|Original form of assessment||Form of re-assessment||ILOs re-assessed||Timescale for re-assessment|
|Academic essay (50%)||2,000 words (50%)||1-9 and 11-13||July|
|Business Report style Assignment (50%)||3,000 words (50%)||1-13||July|
Students will be reassessed in the original form of assessment that they failed. They must choose one of the other optional questions, they are not allowed to answer the same question option again.
- Introduction to sustainable business? – the theory of sustainable development
- Why do we need a sustainable management approach?
- Contemporary debates around sustainable development, climate change, notions of consumption, equity, business ethics and CSR?
- Governance and finance for sustainable business
- Strategy and Execution - How does change occur? Innovation, Perceptions, Behaviour Change and Demand
- Leadership and Entrepreneurship for sustainable business
- Collaboration, co-operation and partnership - stakeholders
- Sustainable consumption and production
- Designing monitoring mechanisms and indicators of sustainability,
- Review, assignment preparation and jobs in sustainability
Indicative learning resources - Basic reading
Blowfield, M. ( 2013) Business and Sustainability, Oxford, Oxford University Press
Kopnina, H. & Bliwett J (2018) Sustainable Business, Issues, London, Routledge
The remainder are useful texts but not essential
Belz, F-M. & Peattie, K. Sustainable Marketing, Chichester Uk, John Wiley
Crane, A. and Matten, D. (2015) Business Ethics 4th Edition, Oxford, Oxford University Press
Nemetz, P. N. (2013) Business and the sustainability challenge – an integrated perspective, London, Routledge
Johnson, T. Howard M. & Miemcyzk, J. (2014) Purchasing and supply chain management a sustainability perspective, Abingdon, Uk Routledge
Hutchins, G. (2012) The Nature of Business Redesigning for Resilience, Dartington UK, Green Books
Rasche, A. & Kell, G. (ed.) (2010) The United Nations Global Compact, Cambridge UK, Cambridge University Press
Waddock, S. & McIntosh, M. (2011) SEE Change: Making the Transition to a Sustainable Enterprise Economy, Sheffield UK, Green Leaf Publishing
Visser, W. (2012) The Age of Responsibility: CSR 2.0 and the New DNA of Business, Chichester UK, John Wiley and Sons
Free online journals
Electronic Journal of Sustainable Development
Journal of Agricultural Biotechnology and Sustainable Development (JABSD)
Journal of Sustainable Development (JSD)
Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa
Yale Wheel: Undergraduate Sustainable Development Journal
Journal of Cleaner Production
The following journals are commercially published but provide free access to abstracts. Catalogue links are provided where Exeter has access.
Agronomy for Sustainable Development (free access to articles up to 2010; title now published by Springer)
Environment, Development and Sustainability; catalogue link
Energy for Sustainable Development; catalogue link
International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development (IJESD)
International Journal of Sustainable Development and Planning
International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology
International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development (IJUSD)
Journal of Education for Sustainable Development
Journal of Business Ethics
Natural Resources Forum: A United Nations Sustainable Development Journal;
Sustainable Development Law and Policy
Module has an active ELE page?
Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources
UN Environment Programme http://www.unep.org/wed/theme/sustainable-consumpion.asp
UN Development Goals http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) One Planet Future http://www.wwf.org.uk/about_wwf/building_a_one_planet_future.cfm
The Long Run Foundation http://www.thelongrun.com/about-the-zeitz-foundation Marks and Spencer Plan A http://corporate.marksandspencer.com/plan-a/our-approach TOMs One for One – shoes http://www.toms.co.uk/
The Prince of Wales’ accounting for sustainability project https://www.accountingforsustainability.org/ Business in the Community http://www.bitc.org.uk/
Last revision date