SMF2290 - Ethics, Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility


Examination arrangement

Examination arrangement: Written examination
Grade: Letters

Evaluation form Weighting Duration Examination aids Grade deviation
Written examination 100/100 5 hours E

Course content

The overall goal of the course is to contribute to critical thinking and dialogue around financial goals, business models and business practices, among other things based on social, technological and environmental challenges of the time. This means being able to reflect on and challenge values at three levels: At the individual level, it is about moral dilemmas, value-conscious leadership and ethical wisdom. At the corporate level, it is about the working environment, freedom of expression, community assignments and responsibilities towards various stakeholders. At the systemic level about thematizing the relationship between economic growth / value creation and equitable distribution, human rights, sustainability and safeguarding the value of nature.

Ethics derives its normative basis from various ethical theories. These provide the foundation for being able to understand the responsibilities of economic operators in general and the responsibilities of business leaders in particular, but also to pose the more fundamental value questions about how the economy and society should be designed to meet the challenges of the future. The course is thus practically oriented in an expanded value perspective, based on the recognition that employees can act responsibly and businesses function ethically well first in sustainable systems and well-functioning societies. In other words, the course addresses both ethical problems in business and ethical problems in a profit-oriented business sector.

Key academic topics:
- Corporate social responsibility (CSR), understood from different perspectives on the relationship between individual, company and society. Also with a critical look at CSR as rooted in a classic growth regime.
- Social contract theory, corporate social missions and corporate legitimacy in society.
- Elaboration on the normative philosophical theory base (including duty ethics, utility ethics, virtue ethics and discourse ethics) in the extension of the ethics section in ex.phil.
- Jus ("Is it law?") And morality ("Is it right?"). And social versus moral norms ("Is it accepted?" Vs. "Should it be accepted?").
- Ethical sense and economic rationality; about goals, means and moral boundaries.
- Ethical leadership, moral dilemmas and the relationship between individual and collective responsibility.
- Notification and freedom of speech in organizations.
- Corruption and incompatibility that threatens trust, organizations and society.
- Justice, taxation, (un) equality and financial distribution.
- Today's environmental problems and different perceptions of sustainability in light of different perspectives on the value of nature.
- Technology optimism, circular economy and green growth - solution or blend? Is Sustainable Growth Possible?

Learning outcome

- Have knowledge of the content of central normative ethical theories and understand their role in ethical reasoning.
- Know how companies can be ascribed to moral responsibility and secure legitimacy, and different principles of corporate social responsibility, sustainability and ethical management.
-Has knowledge of the ethical issues of the time related to justice, environment and technological development as a result of economic activity.

- Can discuss ethical issues related to economic activity with the necessary degree of understanding of nuances, counterarguments and alternative perspectives.
- Can ask critical questions about economic theories and key economic concepts such as freedom of choice, value creation, sustainability and growth.
- Can identify ethical challenges in working life, help to integrate accountability and sustainability into practice, and generally stimulate transparency around value issues.

General competence:
- Understands the importance of critical thinking and the value of free exchange of views based on the understanding that ethical issues are fundamental in economic contexts as well.
- Can link economic thinking and activity to important societal problems and thus contribute constructively in the ethical debate in and about business value creation and role in society.
- Good ability to reason systematically about value issues.

Learning methods and activities

One three-hour lecture each week, with extensive use of examples, review of possible. case and assignments and room for discussions.

Compulsory assignments

  • Approved exercises

Further on evaluation

-A work requirement (which must be passed in order to pass the exam) in the form of a group-based submission approx. midway through the semester. This is a 3 - 4 page note (Times Roman 12, one and a half line spacing, normal margins) where an ethical analysis of a given problem / topic is to be done. There should be 2-4 students in each group.
- Individual written exam (5 hours).

More on assessment
In accordance with current regulations of NTNU.
Digital exam, repeat exam in August.

Specific conditions

Exam registration requires that class registration is approved in the same semester. Compulsory activities from previous semester may be approved by the department.

Admission to a programme of study is required:
Business Administration (BØA)
Business Administration (ØA369)
Business Administration and Management (BØKLED)

Course materials

- Granum Carson, S. and Skauge, T.: Ethics for decision makers - Corporate sustainability and corporate social responsibility, Cappelen Damm, 2019, ca. 250 s.
- Nyeng, F.: Sometimes one should lie - An introduction to ethics, Fagbokforlaget, 2014. (Chapter 10 and Appendix are not core curriculum, approx. 240 s.)
- Ev. some articles (3-5 pieces) that are made available digitally.
More information will be provided on the curriculum on Blackboard at the start of the course.

Credit reductions

Course code Reduction From To
SMF2290F 7.5
AL201220 7.5 01.09.2020
More on the course



Version: 1
Credits:  7.5 SP
Study level: Intermediate course, level II


Term no.: 1
Teaching semester:  SPRING 2021

Language of instruction: Norwegian

Location: Gjøvik

Subject area(s)
  • Ethics
Contact information
Course coordinator: Lecturer(s):

Department with academic responsibility
Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management



Examination arrangement: Written examination

Term Status code Evaluation form Weighting Examination aids Date Time Digital exam Room *
Spring ORD Written examination 100/100 E INSPERA
Room Building Number of candidates
  • * The location (room) for a written examination is published 3 days before examination date. If more than one room is listed, you will find your room at Studentweb.

For more information regarding registration for examination and examination procedures, see "Innsida - Exams"

More on examinations at NTNU