2023-2024 / GEST6002-1

Social enterprises and sustainable business models: organisation and management methods


30h Th

Number of credits

 Master in management (120 ECTS)5 crédits 
 Master in population and development studies (120 ECTS)6 crédits 
 Master in labour sciences (120 ECTS)6 crédits 
 Extra courses intended for exchange students (Erasmus, ...) (Faculty of social sciences)6 crédits 
 Master in communication (120 ECTS)5 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 current crisis requires a change in our economic system. The fight against climate change, protection of biodiversity, regulating the global financial system, preservation of social cohesion, the eradication of poverty and the fight against socio-economic inequalities are few emblematic examples of the challenges we collectively face. Among the various proposed paths, some academics advocate for « rethinking the firm ». This option goes for greater public regulation requirement applied to the world of business to CSR initiatives firms undertake on a voluntary basis.
Some companies go further in the strong internalization of social or environmental concerns.  They build their business model around these objectives. Beyond the speeches, it is important to study these economic models to understand the rationality and critically analyze their potential but also the limitations and obstacles they encounter.

  • Content
Part 1 - Conceptual and theoretical background
1 - Introduction - capitalist firms failures
2 - Social and sustainable enterprises
3 - Financing Mix and Financing Social and Sustainable enterprises
4 - Governance of Social and Sustainable entreprises
5 - Business Models et social and sustainable enterprises features

Part II - Applications

6 - Inclusive economy 7 - Circular economy 8 - Sharing Economy

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

At the end of this course, students will have been specifically brought to:

  • Understand the economic rationality of sustainable business models
  • Understand the challenges of new sustainable business models
These learning outcomes are part of the generic LO of the Master in Management Sciences of HEC since they help the student to:

  • Establish a strategy (from a sustainable perspective)
  • Translate the strategy operationally and think about its implementation
  • Implement performance monitoring in a holistic approach
  • Communicate effectively on the business project
  • Adapt its managerial practices to a constantly changing world, developing both its entrepreneurial spirit and its ability to understand economic, social and environmental issues

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

  • 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
  • Case studies prepared in the classroom
  • Corporate visits and meetings with social entrepreneurs and/or entrepreneurs committed to the ecological transition
  • Participation in an international conference on the social economy as part of the Belgian presidency of the EU (12 and 13/2/2024).
  • Participation in the "Nourrir les campus" festival as part of "Nourrir Liège" (April 2024)

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

The course is mainly face-to-face. Students will also be invited to prepare sessions by home working.

Recommended or required readings

The course will use the virtual interface Lol @, on which will be mailed:

  • PowerPoint presentations of the various sessions,
  • A bibliography containing books and reference articles will be suggested for each topic
  • the cases presented by the students.

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

oral exam

- Remote

oral exam

Written work / report

Continuous assessment

Additional information:

In first session, the overall assessment will combine three elements:

  • An oral exam (60%) 
  • Group assignment (30%)
  • Continuous assessment (10%)
In second session, the evaluation consists only in an oral exam.


Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

The course is given in the second term, on Thursday afternoons (1pm-4pm) at N1d (room -1/89) !!! in the basement !!! , rue Louvrex.

1st class: February 8, 2024


Prof. Sybille Mertens, Centre d'Economie Sociale - HEC Université de Liège - N1d 5th floor- smertens@uliege.be

Secretary (Mrs Jourdan) : nathalie.jourdan@uliege.be

Assistant : Romain David - r.david@uliege.be

Association of one or more MOOCs