Theories and research in business sustainability and responsibility

NB: Course is given in online format

Time and place: May 3-7, 2021, online course organized by LUT School of Business and Management

Learning goal and objectives

The aim of this course is to deepen the students’ understanding of key concepts, theories and research traditions in business sustainability and responsibility, but emphasizing cross-sector interactions and a system perspective. The course takes a multi-disciplinary approach to sustainability and responsibility, systems science and Earth system analysis, integrating the current debate and state-of-the-art from business in society, management and organization, and additional research fields. Special attention is devoted to the past development and evolution of these research fields, as well as current and emerging topics and debates. These include systemic and transformational change processes and other shifts that are needed in mindsets, actions and interactions (at individual, organizational and societal levels) to address global sustainability problems.

During the one-week intensive course, the students will have the opportunity to discuss and reflect on various sustainability and responsibility-related challenges, issues, and topics with the other participants as well as established corporate sustainability and responsibility scholars. Moreover, the students will present their own research ideas and have the opportunity to further improve their projects and papers based on feedback from the faculty. Finally, the course enables the students to develop their scientific writing, research, and teamwork skills.

At the end of the course, the students will be able to understand and critically assess the main concepts, theories and research traditions in this broad field. They will also be able to evaluate and justify the theoretical and methodological approaches used in their own studies on business sustainability and responsibility.

Instruction and examination

The course includes three components:
1) Pre-course work: submitting an extended abstract and reading a package of research articles
2) Instruction: a one-week intensive online course in May 2021
3) Final research paper

The students are expected to read the reading package, consisting of scientific articles (ca. 500 pages) prior to the course, and submit an extended (paper or project) abstract to be discussed at a research development workshop during the course. All lectures (including class discussions, teamwork, and workshops) will held during a one-week intensive course in May 2021. The students will write a 20-25-page final paper and submit it about one month after the intensive course. The paper will be evaluated and graded by the faculty.

Credits: 6 ECTS

Grading: 0-5 (90% based on course paper; 10% based on participation). Five-level grading scale: sufficient, satisfactory, good, very good, or excellent.


The course is designed as cross-disciplinary. It is targeted at doctoral students doing research on topics related to corporate/business sustainability, CSR, corporate citizenship, cross-sector interactions, systems change, multi-stakeholder partnerships, sustainable supply chain management, and critical and political CSR/governance, among other topics. It is especially suitable for students majoring in management and organization studies, strategy, sustainability and CSR, supply chain management, industrial engineering, environmental management, and international business, for example.


Maximum number of participants is 25.

Deadline for course applications: March 15, 2021. Applications should be sent by email to the course coordinators: Laura Albareda ( and Anne Quarshie (

Course application form:

Contact address:
Research area/thesis topic:
When officially accepted to doctoral program:
Phase of doctoral studies:
Motives for participating in the course:

Acceptance notifications will be emailed directly to the applicants by March 22, 2021. Admitted students must also submit an extended paper or project abstract (3-4 pages incl. references, single-spaced) to be presented and discussed at a research development workshop during the course. The abstracts should be sent to the course coordinators ( by March 31, 2021. The abstract will be expanded to a 20-25-page final paper after the course.


Tobias Hahn, Professor, Department of Society, Politics and Sustainability at ESADE- Doctoral Professor Universitat Ramon Lull

 Tobias holds a PhD in Economic and Social Sciences from and a Master Degree in Environmental Science from the University of Lüneburg, Germany. He also holds a position as an Honorary Professor at the University of Sydney Business School. Prior to joining ESADE he was professor in a business school in France and a project manager in a non-profit research institute in Germany. His main areas of expertise are in corporate sustainability and corporate social responsibility. His main research areas are tensions and paradoxes in corporate sustainability and CSR, sustainability performance assessment, corporate sustainability strategies, and stakeholder behavior.

His work has been published in journals such as Academy of Management Review, Organization Studies, Ecological Economics, International Journal of Production Economics, Journal of Business Ethics, Business & Society, Organization & Environment, and Business Strategy and the Environment. Tobias is a Senior Editor of the journal Organization & Environment. He also serves as an editorial board member for the journals Academy of Management Review, Journal of Business Ethics, Business & Society, and Business Strategy and the Environment. Currently, Tobias is also the president of the Group for Research on Organizations and the Natural Environment (GRONEN).

Laura Albareda, Associate Professor, Sustainable Business, LUT School of Business and Management

 Laura Albareda is Associate Professor at the School of Business and Management, LUT. She is also visiting professor at Deusto Business School (DBS), University of Deusto. She has been Postdoctoral Fellow at the Carroll School of Management of Boston College and Visiting Researcher at Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, Boston University, Ivey Business School and Amsterdam Business School. From 2000 to 2008 she was Research Fellow and Assistant lecturer in the Department of social sciences at ESADE Business School. She is currently leading research on business sustainability, cross-sector collective action and polycentric governance. She also works on sustainability-oriented innovation, value creation and sustainable business models. Her research papers have been published in specialized journals such as Journal of Business Research, Business Ethics Quarterly, Business & Society, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Cleaner Production, Business Ethics: A European Review, Journal of Corporate Citizenship, Journal of Corporate Governance: The International Journal of Business in Society, and Business and Society Review. She is co-author of the book: Governments and Corporate Social Responsibility: Public Policies beyond Regulation and Voluntary Compliance (2008) and co-editor of the book Bocken, N., Ritala, P., Albareda, L. & Verburg, R. (Eds.). (2019). Innovation for Sustainability (pp. 35-57). Business transformations towards a better world. Springer. She has been awarded the Carolyn Dexter Award for Best International Paper, as well as the Organizations & the Natural Environment Division Unorthodox Paper Award at the 2018 Academy of Management Annual Meeting.

Anne Quarshie, Postdoctoral Researcher, LUT School of Business and Management

 Anne Quarshie is a Postdoctoral Researcher at LUT School of Business and Management. She has a doctoral degree from Aalto University School of Business. She has also worked for two years as a Visiting Researcher at Rutgers Business School in New Jersey, USA. Her research interests include sustainable supply chain management, systemic and transformational change processes, and interorganizational interaction. She conducts research on these topics in the context of grand challenges, such as biodiversity loss, human rights issues, and humanitarian disasters. Her research has received several recognitions, including the IPSERA Doctoral Dissertation Award 2017 and the Routledge Best Paper Award in Social Partnership 2016. Her work has appeared among other outlets in the Journal of Business Ethics, Organization & Environment, Journal of Supply Chain Management, and Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management. She is also a co-author of the book “Corporate Social Responsibility in Finland: Origins, Characteristics, and Trends”. Prior to becoming a researcher, she worked for several years at Fairtrade Finland, where she managed relationships with Finnish retailers and food manufacturers and was a member of the organization’s top management team.

Paavo Ritala, Professor, Strategy and Innovation, LUT School of Business and Management Paavo Ritala is a Professor of Strategy and Innovation at the School of Business and Management at LUT University, Finland. His main research themes include collaborative innovation, coopetition, digital strategy, platforms and ecosystems, as well as sustainable value creation. His research has been published in journals such as Research Policy, Journal of Product Innovation Management, Long Range Planning, Industrial and Corporate Change, California Management Review, Technological Forecasting & Social Change, Technovation, R&D Management, British Journal of Management, and Industrial Marketing Management. He recently co-edited a book titled “Innovation for Sustainability: Business Transformations Towards a Better World” published by Palgrave MacMillan. He is closely involved with business practice through company-funded research projects, executive and professional education programs, and in speaker and advisory roles. Prof. Ritala currently serves as an Associate Editor of R&D Management.

Laura Olkkonen, Postdoctoral Researcher LUT School of Business and Management Laura Olkkonen is a Postdoctoral Researcher at LUT and Docent at Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics. Her research focuses on business-society relations and CSR communication. Currently, she leads a 3-year research project on corporate activism, funded by the Academy of Finland. She teaches courses related to sustainable business and business ethics, and supervises several Master’s and Bachelor’s theses yearly. Dr. Olkkonen also acts as a local coordinator of the United Nation’s Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) at LUT. She is co-author for the book “Corporate Social Responsibility in Finland: Origins, Characteristics, and Trends”, and has previously published her research in journals such as Journal of Cleaner Production, Business Ethics: A European Review, Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, and Journal of Communication Management.

Asta Salmi, Professor, University of Vaasa, School of Marketing and Communication

 Asta Salmi is Professor (Business Development) at University of Vaasa. Her expertise areas include sustainable supply chains, cross-sector cooperation, dynamics of business networks, and collaborations related to environmental issues. She serves as a Senior Associate Editor for Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management and is an active participant and member of the international business and industrial marketing research communities. She has published e.g. in Academy of Management Review, Organization & Environment, Industrial Marketing Management and Journal of Management Studies. Kirsimarja Blomqvist, Professor, LUT School of Business and Management Kirsimarja Blomqvist is a Professor for Knowledge management at the School of Business and Management at LUT University. Her research focuses on trust, knowledge management, innovation, digitalization and new forms of organizing. Her research articles have been published e.g. in California Management Review, Scandinavian Journal of Management, Creativity and Innovation Management, Research Policy, R&D Management, Technovation, and Industrial Marketing Management. She has been a visiting scholar for Stanford and a founding and board member for FINT, First International Network for Trust researchers and serves as Associate Editor for Journal of Trust Research and an editorial review board member for Industrial Marketing Management and Journal of Organization Design. Currently she is also a member for Academy of Finland Research Council for Society and Culture.

Course coordinators and contact information:

Anne Quarshie, Postdoctoral Researcher, LUT School of Business and Management, (

Laura Albareda, Associate Professor, Sustainable Business, LUT School of Business and Management, LUT University, Laura Albareda (