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Business in Society: Managing the Sustainable Company


Professor Gilbert Lenssen PhD MBA is President of the ABIS the global Academy of Business in Society with offices in New York, Brussels and Shanghai. ABIS is an association of 80 Business Schools and 30 Companies worldwide engaged in research, education and management development in Corporate Responsibility, Business Ethics, Corporate Governance and Sustainable Development.

Professor Lenssen is a professor of Strategy and has widely published in this field.

Prior to his academic career, he was a business executive in UK, USA, India, Spain, Germany in marketing, manufacturing, human resource management and general management. His last post was Global Vice President BP Solar International.


The course is about the strategic, managerial and governance dimensions of the relationship Business-Society. Expectations on responsibility and accountability of firms in the local and global context have risen substantially in the last 15 years. It is closely associated with the idea of ‘sustainability’: the interdependence between a business and its economic, political, social and ecological environment. It is about how that interdependency can be managed to enhance business performance. The case for including a core component on the role of business in society in MBA and executive training programmes is based on a changing context which is making the management of that interdependency a greater concern for individual businesses and all their stakeholders.

The course includes economic, ecological, social, ethical, political and governance dimensions. Extensive use is made of practical case studies (see case readings for each session below). In analysing cases and issues involving all these dimensions, students will be encouraged to take a diversity of approaches: normative (e.g. ethical and stakeholder values and principles), instrumental (e.g. issue and risk management, stakeholder impact and power analysis) and a control approach (e.g. accounting, regulation and governance).


To get students to think critically about Business Strategy and Governance: the role of business and any individual company in society and to develop knowledge and skills which will enable them to act and manage within their future work environment with due regard to wider political, social, cultural and environmental context of business.


The course starts with exploring how a wide arry of issues complicate business strategies and how decision making around these issues is fraught with confusion on external and internal accountability, legitimacy and cultural constraints. Accountability issues are explored and dominant strategic approaches are analysed: stakeholder management and partnerships. The implications for business strategy and global governance are explored and finally, ethical dilemma’s are considered.

A selection of case studies from the following list will be worked through:

25 Executive Education Case studies
Decision making Mc Donalds Legitimacy Monsanto Culture-structure Shell

Accountability vs responsibility Hooker Chemicals Organisational assurance Exxon Valdez Risk management BP Columbia

Stakeholder analysis Euroco Communications...
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