Strategy and Sustainability

2 credit hours

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) challenges have become major strategic and ethical issues for companies around the globe, whereby managers increasingly struggle to integrate sustainability—ESG issues—into organizational strategy formulation and implementation. Students in this course will evaluate:

  1. The various drivers behind sustainability (from ethical, personal, social, and environmental to strategic reasons, such as cost savings, growth opportunities, innovation, differentiation, and competitive advantage);
  2. How companies respond (i.e., the “different shades of green” or different degrees of adoption and implementation of sustainability strategy, including setting sustainability goals and standards and launching organizational change to integrate sustainability); and, most importantly,
  3. When firms maximize social, environmental, and economic value from solving sustainability issues. Sustainability strategy thus refers to decisions regarding ESG issues facing the firm (i.e., where and how to engage, as opposed to compete, in the general strategy definition).

We will take a strategic approach to understanding sustainability, applying strategy tools and recent research to analyzing the critical ethical, strategic, and managerial issues involved in developing, implementing, and adapting strategy to create and integrate environmental, social, and economic value. As in any strategy course, we will pay particular attention to industry dynamics, competition, and cooperation in sustainability among industry players as well as how these activities affect firm performance.

The main goal of this course is to gain a practical understanding of sustainability issues and responsibilities of business leaders and companies along with strategies for how to deliver on those responsibilities. We will use a combination of analytical tools: guest speakers, cases in numerous settings, game play, most recent academic research, as well as practical how-to guides for managers and reports from key intermediaries. This course should be of value to students interested in corporate strategy, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and leadership in the 21st century. It will help students to develop critical thinking skills that are useful for analyzing and identifying sustainability challenges and opportunities and to become effective social change agents and responsible leaders.

Explore how you can customize your degree by selecting from wide-ranging concentrations of study that focus on specialized disciplines. You can also request information to learn more.

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