The aim of the module is to develop an understanding of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability informed by ethical theory and stakeholder perspectives. Students will have the opportunity to familiarise with essential readings and cases in CSR to enable them to recognise key issues that are raised by stakeholder groups such as shareholder activism; socially responsible investment; employee discrimination; working conditions; ethical issues in marketing; management; consumer protection; gifts/ bribes; accountability; collaboration with civil society organisations, and corruption of governmental actors. The module will therefore contribute in building an understanding on contemporary social issues in business by highlighting the importance of a collaborative approach with internal and external stakeholder groups.
- Business Ethics
- Corporate Social Responsibility
- Social responsibilities of sectors and industries
- Implementation of socially responsible and sustainable programmes and initiatives
- Stakeholders of organisations, including:
Independent Study: 129
Total hours: 150
Method of assessment
The module is assessed by a combination of coursework (40%) and examination (60%).
The coursework consists of two elements:
1) Assignment 1: (25%)
This is an individual report (2,000 words) that will provide a brief assessment of five key social issues that may occur during the interactions of a business with a primary stakeholder group. The report should anticipate the potential negative effects for the business and offer suggestions on how to proactively address such issues with appropriate CSR programmes, offering justifications and examples. The report will be based on desktop research where students are required to (1) identify the five key social issues, with the aim of developing a theoretical understanding and (2) identify businesses that received criticism in each of the five areas to contextualise their answers and provide suggestions on how to address these issues.
2) Assignment 2: (15%)
Working in assigned groups of approximately five, students will scrutinise a key social issue (such as climate change, child labour, product safety, deception, consumer exclusion, employee working conditions, poverty or boycotts) or a CSR programme (sustainable consumption, equal opportunities and affirmative action, fair-trade, corporate community involvement) and make a 10-minute presentation about it to the class in the style of a business analyst. In doing so, the students will evaluate the significance of the social issue for business as well as the CSR programmes’ benefits, costs, limitations and future potential. Students will be required to provide an individual reflective journal documenting the work undertaken by the individual student to prepare for and deliver the group presentation. This will be referred to if necessary to mediate any issue with the group dynamics.
The examination is two-hour, unseen and closed book. It is intended to test individual understanding of the key issues in the interaction of a business with its stakeholder groups and their interpretation and communication in different contexts. It also tests the students’ ability to structure an argument and provide relevant examples in support of that argument.
Crane, A. and Matten, D. (2010). Business Ethics 3rd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press Crane, A.,
Matten, D. and Spence, L. (2014). Corporate Social Responsibility: Readings and Cases in a Global Context. 2nd edition. Abingdon: Routledge.
See the library reading list for this module (Medway)
- Understand the concept of social responsibility, sustainability, business ethics and their increasing impact on business.
- Apply key concepts, theories and frameworks related to social responsibility and sustainability to different contexts.
- Critically assess the suitability and applicability of contemporary business and societal responses to environmental, social and economic challenges of sustainable development.
- Critically understand the key issues that organisations face in the design and implementation of socially responsible programmes.
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