MAN 5173 Sustainable People Management

MAN 5173 Sustainable People Management

Course code: 
MAN 5173
Leadership and Organizational Behaviour
Course coordinator: 
Wajda Wikhamn
Course name in Norwegian: 
Sustainable People Management
Product category: 
Master of Management
2021 Autumn
Active status: 
Level of study: 
Teaching language: 
Course type: 
One semester

Majority of organizations in the public and private sectors recognize the importance of the three pillars of sustainability (economy, environment, and social/people). In practice, however, the emphasis on these pillars vary greatly. Traditionally, financial sustainability has been the prime concern for organizations. Growing awareness of organization environmental footprints has resulted in an increasing integration of environmental consciousness in strategic decisions (e.g., investing in waste sorting and recycling systems, energy-saving solutions, and more environment friendly supply chains). Far less attention, however, has been devoted to social sustainability – in particulate, to the social impact resulting from people management decisions.

This can be attributed to two underlying reasons. The first is the lack of knowledge of what social sustainability implies and how it can be operationalized. Unlike environmental footprints, defining social footprints is more contested. Additionally, estimating monetary value (gains or losses) for social impact is still uncommon (albeit not impossible). The second is the inherent tension between efficiency and sustainability. This tension has been acknowledged in research on corporate sustainability and been studied through the paradox lens. According to this perspective, by explicitly acknowledging tensions between different desirable, yet interdependent and conflicting sustainability objectives, decision-makers in organizations are able to achieve competing sustainability goals simultaneously.

This course responds to the need for social sustainability integration in organizational life. As such, it focuses on people management in organizations from a sustainability perspective and discusses the role of managers and leaders in designing and maintaining sustainable work systems that contribute to corporate sustainability and societal sustainable development. More specifically, the course aims to develop participants’ critical thinking and understanding of sustainable people management, improve their reflective ability regarding common managerial and leadership practices, and equip them with the knowledge required to attain social sustainability.

The various learning activities are based on recent scientific research in the field. The course, additionally, addresses some of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the practical complexity of concurrently attending to the competing demands of sustainability.

This course is relevant for managers and leaders in public and private organizations and across sectors. By attending this course, the participants will develop knowledge and skills needed to practically work with social sustainability. This is not a prescriptive course – rather, it is a course that aims to broaden participants’ knowledge and critical thinking on how social sustainability can be part of corporate sustainability.

In addition to case studies, the course uses literature from the fields of sustainable HRM, strategic human resource management, organizational behavior, corporate sustainability (CS), and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Learning outcomes - Knowledge
  • Differentiate between sustainable and unstainable people management strategies, policies and practices
  • Describe using advanced knowledge the impact of organization’s strategies, policies and practices on employees and other stakeholders in the society
  • Explain based on research-based evidence how sustainable people management adds value to organizations and societies
Learning outcomes - Skills
  • Analyze the tension between efficiency demands and sustainable people management
  • Critically assess the sustainability of existing people management strategies, policies and practices in organizations
  • Apply theories to cases and organizational life in practice
General Competence
  • Design sustainable people management strategies, policies and practices in own organization
  • Innovate in creating indicators (measures) of sustainable people management
Course content

Part 1: Sustainable people management

  1. Key concepts and approaches
  2. Challenges and tensions
  3. The paradox perspective
  4. Innovation and social sustainability

Part 2: Developing strategies, policies and practices for sustainable people management

  1. Strategies, policies and practices – the whats and whys
  2. People management and society (e.g., diversity and inclusion, aging workforce)
  3. People management and the environment (e.g., green HRM practices)

Part 3: Assessing and communicating sustainable people management

  1. Why to assess and communicate
  2. What to assess and how (e.g., measures, narratives)
  3. Sustainable people management and Sustainability Reporting
  4. The (in)visible consequences of not assessing
Teaching and learning activities

The course will be delivered using the Insendi platform and webinar tools such as Zoom.

This course is conducted through a combination of campus and online learning process. The campus module will consist of 2 sessions x 2 days. The online module will combine online content, videos and exercises to support the learning, both individually and in groups. The combination of campus and online learning process equals 75 lecturing hours over one semester. In general, students should estimate the overall workload for the course to 400 hours.

Please note that while attendance is not compulsory in all courses, it is the student's own responsibility to obtain any information provided in class that is not included on the course homepage or other course materials.

The students are evaluated through an individual home assignment and a (final) term paper. The term paper accounts for 60% of the total grade, and may be written individually or in groups of maximum three persons. The individual 72 hour home assignment accounts for 40% of the total grade. All evaluations must be passed to obtain a certificate for the course.

The term paper is included in the Executive Master of Management degree’s independent work (cf. national regulation on requirements for master’s degree)and it is equivalent to 9 ECTS credits per course. For the Executive Master of Management degree, the independent work of degree represents the sum of term papers from all the taken courses/programmes.

Term paper supervision/guidance differ in each Executive Master of Management course. It will consist of individual and class supervision/guidance. Generally, the students may expect consulting not evaluation supervision/guidance. Supervision/guidance is offered up to 2 hours per term paper.

All evaluations must be passed to obtain a certificate for the course. Both types of evaluations are based on the application of the concepts and tools learned in the course.

In all BI Executive courses and programs, there is a mutual requirement  
for the student and the course responsible regarding the involvement of the student's experience in the planning and implementation of courses, modules and programmes. This means that the student has the right and duty to get involved with their own knowledge and practice relevance, through the active sharing of their relevant experience and knowledge.

Software tools
Software defined under the section "Teaching and learning activities".

Bachelor degree, corresponding to 180 credits from an accredited university, university college or similar educational institution
The applicant must be at least 25 years of age and at least four years of work experience. For applicants who have already completed a master’s degree, three years of work experience are required.


Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there may be deviations in teaching and learning activities as well as exams, compared with what is described in this course description.

Exam categoryWeightInvigilationDurationGroupingComment exam
Exam category:
Form of assessment:
Written submission
Exam code:
MAN 51731
Grading scale:
Grading rules:
Internal and external examiner
Examination when next scheduled course
40No72 Hour(s)Individual Individual 72 hours home exam, counting 40% of the total grade
Exam category:
Form of assessment:
Written submission
Exam code:
MAN 51732
Grading scale:
Grading rules:
Internal and external examiner
Examination when next scheduled course
60No1 Semester(s)Group/Individual (1 - 3)Term paper, counting 60% of the total grade
Exam category:Submission
Form of assessment:Written submission
Grouping (size):Individual
Duration:72 Hour(s)
Comment:Individual 72 hours home exam, counting 40% of the total grade
Exam code:MAN 51731
Grading scale:ECTS
Resit:Examination when next scheduled course
Exam category:Submission
Form of assessment:Written submission
Grouping (size):Group/Individual (1-3)
Duration:1 Semester(s)
Comment:Term paper, counting 60% of the total grade
Exam code:MAN 51732
Grading scale:ECTS
Resit:Examination when next scheduled course
Type of Assessment: 
Ordinary examination
Total weight: 
Student workload
30 Hour(s)
On-campus teaching
45 Hour(s)
Webinars and online teaching
Student's own work with learning resources
325 Hour(s)
Student's self-study of online/offline materials, preparation for the class and term paper + in-home paper preparation
Sum workload: 

A course of 1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. Therefore a course of 15 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of at least 400 hours.