Creating Teaching Cases around Sustainability

Management related academic institutions play an important role in training the current and future generations of leaders. Part of the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) and the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative is to encourage research on sustainable development issues, in particular leading up to Rio+20.

In an earlier blog, we looked at a selection of business schools that are developing teaching cases focused on sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR). There have been a growing number of schools writing case studies around these topics, and here we look at a few more examples from the US, UK, Spain and China.

San Francisco State University College of Business has an initiative to develop a series of case studies of local businesses in the Bay Area on their journey to sustainability. The initiative will include a variety of efforts to promote and support the development of business sustainability case studies by 1) fostering collaboration among leading sustainability case writers who teach at business schools in the Bay Area; 2) providing incentives and support to help faculty develop and apply case writing skills in the area of business sustainability; and 3) distributing and promoting cases. The initiative is sponsoring a forum to create a community of case writers from the area and is offering workshops to assist faculty in the development of case writing skills.

Cranfield School of Management, through a partnership with the Pears Foundation, which involves a collaboration between Cranfield School of Management, London Business School and the Said Business School at Oxford University have been developing a series of 27 case studies on themes such as sustainability, corporate governance and ethical decision making on companies.

There are also several examples of schools involving students in the writing of new case studies focused on responsible leadership. Columbia Case Works at Columbia Business School pairs second year students with faculty to write new cases around sustainability topics. Students also work with faculty to write introductory papers, which are distributed to all entering students on the topics of CSR, governance and values based leadership. Each summer, IESE Business School sponsors positions for research assistants with the aim of writing cases involving responsible management. The School’s professors are invited to identify and discuss situations (with colleagues and students, during and after class) that they have experienced during their professional activity and may be useful for developing a case study.

In May 2010, Hong Kong Baptist University School of Business organised the Symposium on Social Enterprises in China to provide a platform for discussion on the business models and success factors of social enterprises in China. Case studies were mainly developed by students of the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) programme after visiting different social enterprises in Hong Kong and several cities in Mainland China, including Anhui, Beijing, Shanghai, Shanxi, and Qinghai. Subsequent to the Symposium, a casebook entitled “Social Enterprises of the New Age: Case Studies in China” was published by Chinese Businesses Case Research Center and DBA students in May 2011.

Are you working on an initiative to create case studies around corporate sustainability or responsible leadership in your region? Share your experiences in the comments area below this blog.


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