Sustainability and Behavioral Ethics


  • To understand what drives sustainable, moral behaviour in employees, in CEOs, and in the organization as a whole.
  • Being able to adopt an evidence-based approach to sustainability and business ethics by designing and conducting your own empirical research.
  • To translate empirical research and theory on sustainability and business ethics into real-world interventions


With the global population growing to 9 billion people, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development forecasts that if organizations do not drastically revise their way of doing business, humanity will be consuming the ecological resources of 2.3 earths in 2050. To avert the disaster that would ensue, businesses need to develop in a sustainable fashion, meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations. This implies an emphasis not only on economic development, but also on social and environmental development.

Nowadays, the sustainable mindset is frequently embraced by CEOs and employees alike, which greatly facilitates green innovations, initiatives to combat climate change, and corporate social responsibility in general. Yet it is also true that in contemporary business a dog-eat-dog mindset has survived. This mindset, which is anything but sustainable, has brought about various high-profile scandals such as the Enron, Worldcom, and Parmalat debacles, not to mention the global banking crisis. The economic, social, and environmental consequences of such drastic, moral transgressions may be so profound that they potentially nullify any sustainable development. Sustainability and ethics thus go hand in hand, and both present and future business leaders would do well to embody both.

This course offers a broad, psychological perspective on sustainable, moral behaviour in business. How can such behaviour be encouraged in employees, in CEOs, in organizations as a whole, and in their stakeholders? Conversely, how can unsustainable, immoral behaviour be averted? Such questions will be discussed in the context of, among others, pro-environmental behaviour, social dilemmas, greenwashing, ethical and sustainable leadership, and moral and sustainable development in individuals and organizations.

Central in this course is an evidence-based approach to business. The lectures are based on rigorous, empirical research, and they focus predominantly on linking fundamental, behavioural theories to sustainable, practical applications.

Linking theory, research and practice is also a main focus of the course assignments. As a first assignment, you and your research team will therefore conduct qualitative or quantitative research on a topic of your choice relevant to sustainability, behavioural ethics or both. You can conduct an experiment, survey, case study or use archival data. This will allow you to further interpret and understand the large body of available research on sustainability and behavioural ethics, as well as to subject your own ideas to empirical scrutiny, and to communicate your findings concisely, accurately, clearly and straightforwardly in a paper of 2500 words maximum. You and your team will also present your research to your fellow students, allowing you to further practice communicating your evidence-based ideas to an audience with some business and research experience.

The second assignment consists of an individual 1000-word essay where you will reflect on material from at least two different lectures. This gives you the opportunity to creatively process the course material. Perhaps you see previously unimagined potential in some of the theories discussed in the lectures, allowing you to propose brand new applications for sustainable development in business. Perhaps you see ways to improve existing theories and make them more relevant to practice. Or perhaps you are skeptical of certain theories, the link between theory and practice, or the value of the empirical research discussed in the lectures.

This course consists of six lectures, two feedback sessions, and one presentation session. Active participation during the lectures may count toward one’s final grade.


  • Mixed form(100%)
  • Individual essay (33⅓ %), Group research paper and group presentation (66⅔ %)


To be announced