2019-2020 / GEST3024-1

Business and sustainable development


30h Th

Number of credits

 Bachelor in political sciences : general3 crédits 
 Bachelor in economics and business management4 crédits 
 Extra courses intended for exchange students (Erasmus, ...)4 crédits 
 Master in multilingual communication (120 ECTS)5 crédits 
 Bachelor in psychology and education : general3 crédits 


Sybille Mertens de Wilmars

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the second semester


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

Course description
The economic and financial crisis, the growing inequality and the prospects of climate change are arguing for a fundamental change in the economic system. Through their activities and the choices they make, some enterprises are more directly inspiring for this transition.  They fit totally in the perspective of sustainable development when they feature, sometimes as a priority, the social and environmental concerns in their economic objectives. This is usually expressed in their interactions with their stakeholders (employees, suppliers, consumers, financiers, civil society, etc..) This course provides students with a reading for their critical analysis of firm behavior vis- à-vis its main stakeholders. It also gives a good introduction to new inspiring business practices experimented in social and sustainable enteprirses.
1 - Systemic crisis and transition

  • Triple crisis
  • Sustainable development
  • Transition management
2 - Enterprises

  • Definition
  • Diversity of the business world
  • CSR, externalities, stakeholders
  • Social enterprises
3 - Enterprise and State

  • Regulation, multinational firms, NGOs
  • Public production, privatisation, liberalisation, nonmarket sector
4 - Enterprise and consumers

  • Solvent demand and exclusion
  • Asymetry of information and trust goods
  • Collaborative economy
5 - Enterprise and financers

  • Revenues, property and power 
  • Financing-mix and sustainable development goals
  • Socially responsible investment
6 - Enterprise and workers

  • Evolution of work forms
  • Self-management
7 - Enterprise and Environment

  • Links between Economic activity and environmental degradation
  • Circular economy
8 - Synthesis

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

At the end of this course , students will be specifically able to :

  • Develop a critical reflection on our current production modes
  • Translate sustainable development into concrete terms of relations between the company and its stakeholders
  • Evaluate the potential for innovation and the risks of social and sustainable models
These specific learning outcomes reinforce the following generic learning outcomes of our bachelor program in Economics and Management Sciences. Indeed, this course will help students to:

  • identify the political, societal and economic context of a complex situation and to identify the legal constraints that apply to it
  • understand the societal, economic, political and environmental issues of a complex situation
  • take a holistic approach when analyzing a complex management problem
  • demonstrate critical thinking, curiosity and scientific rigor at university level
  • take a critical and ethical look at their managerial practices.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

  • Students must have completed an introductory course in economics and, if possible , in microeconomics and public economics
  • Students must be able to express themselves in French or English and must be able to read fluently French and English.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Learning activities include

  • Conceptual and theoretical presentations by the teacher (powerpoint)
  • Readings and discussion in class

Mode of delivery (face-to-face ; distance-learning)

The theoretical course is organized into two parts. The first part recalls the theoretical raison d'être of the entreprises and justify the great diversity that exists in this field (private, public, SMEs, large companies, multinationals, with profit or social purposes) . This part also describes the conceptual and theoretical foundations of sustainable development and transition. The second part is devoted to the analysis of relationships between enterprises and their key stakeholders. The analysis is illustrated by cases discussed in class.

Recommended or required readings

  • A bibliography containing books and reference articles will be suggested for each topic. These documents will be made available (Lol@).

Assessment methods and criteria

The overall assessment will combine two elements:

  • Writigs of short essays in preparation of course sessions (20%)
  • A written examination to assess the ability of students to enrich his argument with presentations of the course and further reading (80%).
In the second session, the evaluation is based solely on a written examination.

Work placement(s)

Organizational remarks

This course takes place every Monday 4pm-6pm, from february to may (HEC - room to be confirmed). 1st course : Feb 3


Sybille Mertens Cera Chair- Center for Social Economy HEC-Management School - University of Liège - B33/box 4 - 4000 Liège Tel : + 32(0) 4 366 27 51 - smertens@uliege.be