Business and Sustainability

1. In the 1970s when asked about “”What does it mean to say that the corporate
executive has a ‘social responsibility’ in his capacity as businessman?” Milton
Friedman stated that,” the difficulty of exercising ‘social responsibility’ illustrates, of
course, the great virtue of private competitive enterprise — it forces people to be
responsible for their own actions and makes it difficult for them to ‘exploit’ other
people for either selfish or unselfish purposes. They can do good — but only at their
own expense.”

discuss the implications of this statement for business, society and the
environment. Draw from the lectures, readings and class examples where
appropriate.
Business and Sustainability Individual Essay Guidelines and List of Topics
2017-18 2

2. “A growing number of companies known for their hard-nosed approach to
business—such as GE, Google, IBM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Nestlé, Unilever, and
Wal-Mart—have already embarked on important efforts to create shared value by
reconceiving the intersection between society and corporate performance.” Michael
Porter. A narrow view about how to create profit has led to a disconnect between
businesses and society and this needs to change according to Harvard Business
School Professor Michael Porter. Yet, Porter believes that going beyond Corporate
Social Responsibility (CSR) and focusing on shared value (creating economic value by
creating social value) can bring more benefits to companies, and be a source of
competitive advantage.
discuss critically. Draw from the lectures, readings and class examples where
appropriate.

3. “The world’s most exciting, fastest-growing new market? It´s where you least
expect it: at the bottom of the pyramid. Collectively, the world’s billions of poor
people have immense entrepreneurial capabilities and buying power”.
Present a critical discussion of C.K. Prahalad´s approach. Draw from the lectures,
readings and class examples where appropriate.

4. In the past, governments have relied on legislation and regulation to deliver social
and environmental objectives in the business sector. Shrinking government
resources, coupled with a distrust of regulations, has led to the exploration of
voluntary and non-regulatory initiatives instead.
Discuss the role that government can and should play in driving business
sustainability from a historical and current (socio-economic) perspective. Draw from
the lectures, readings and class examples where appropriate.

5. Entrepreneurs seek, sense and sort opportunities that others do not see (often
seen as market failures or undervalued by the market). Innovation is often
associated with this process. This may lead not only to solutions that can successfully
help tackle some of today’s greatest challenges, but also to new ways of doing
business.
Discuss this statement in the light of practical examples. Draw from the lectures,
readings and class examples where appropriate.

6. In the Outlook to 2035 report, BP forecasts the changes and future landscape of
the energy industry. It states “on a global scale all fuels will experience growth, with
renewables experiencing the fastest growth. By 2035, renewables will generate 14%
of the world’s electricity, up from 5% in 2012. Most of the growth is expected to
occur outside of OECD countries, especially in China and India”.
Business and Sustainability Individual Essay Guidelines and List of Topics
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Please critically discuss this statement. You can find a clear presentation of the
report at http://www.slideshare.net/BP_plc/bp-energy-outlook-2035-2014- booklet.
Draw from the lectures, readings and class examples where appropriate.

7. discuss critically how sustainability in the extractive industry can create
shared value for business, environment and society, and the challenges that its
broader adoption and implementation face. Draw from the lectures, readings and
class examples where appropriate.

8. In 1995, former World Bank Vice-President Ismail Serageldin claimed that ‘the
wars of the next century will be about water.’ In 2013, the US Senate released the
report “Avoiding Water Wars: Water Scarcity and Central Asia’s Growing Importance
for Stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan”. According to
Erik Rasmussen from the Huffington Post
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erikrasmussen/water-wars_b_844101.html), the
report warned of coming water wars in Central and South Asia due to water scarcity
and predicted that it “will be felt all over the world”.
Please analyse the statements with a focus on the business perspective and the role
that companies that can play to help address the issue, and discuss critically. You can
illustrate with examples or perspectives from certain sectors. Draw from the
lectures, readings and class examples where appropriate.

9. Should environmental and social reporting be primarily voluntary in nature? If so,
should companies have their own frameworks, or should a generally accepted
framework, such as the GRI, be followed? The advantages of the latter might be
greater comparability of sustainability performance, but would this not be at the
expense of characteristics of individual businesses and their stakeholders?
Please analyse critically, focusing on the role of business (in general) in pushing the
sustainability accounting and reporting agenda for sustainable development. You
can also mention what could be some of the challenges in coordinating the various
stakeholders and interests from different sectors. Draw from the lectures, readings
and class examples where appropriate.

10. “The healthcare industry is undergoing sweeping change. To emerge as winners,
incumbents should learn from other industries. Healthcare is now the world’s largest
industry – with a value and cost three times greater than the banking sector ”.
Mckinsey, Insights & Publications, Healthcare, June 2014
“Health care providers should seek to minimise the environmental damage caused
by their activities and to use scarce natural resources wisely. In particular, they
should aim to make no contribution to climate change.”
Griffiths J, Environmental sustainability in the national health service in
Business and Sustainability Individual Essay Guidelines and List of Topics
2017-18 4
England. In Public Heath. July 2006.
Please discuss the above statements in light of the current changes at the NHS, and/
or the challenges and uncertainty in health systems more globally. What
opportunities exist for the health sector to address sustainability, and what role can
sustainability play in this sector?
Draw from the lectures, readings and class examples where appropriate.

11. “Advances in data gathering, computing power and connectivity mean that we
have more information than ever before at our fingertips… But when it comes to
sustainability the great thing about big data is that it is unlocking the ability of
businesses to understand and act on what are typically their biggest environmental
impacts – the ones outside their control… Big data has the power to transform how
large businesses – the ones with biggest environmental impacts, but also access to
large volumes of information – can take action on sustainability.”
“Why big data will have a big impact on sustainability”. The Guardian Sustainable
Business (http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/bigdata-impactsustainable-business).
Please analyse the statement above and discuss critically. You may illustrate with
examples or perspectives from certain sectors. Draw from the lectures, readings and
class examples where appropriate.

12. ‘There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and
that’s your own self. So you have to begin there, not outside, not on other
people. That comes afterward, when you’ve worked on your own corner’.
Aldous Huxley, Time Must Have a Stop.
Please discuss critically in the context of private sector and sustainability. You can
draw from examples in particular sectors, and concepts from other disciplines.

13. Media and social media in particular play an increasingly key role in defining
national and global priorities. This could be a great opportunity for sustainable
development, or could equally create added difficulties.
Please argue, agreeing or disagreeing. You may draw from examples across other
disciplines and areas (such as geopolitics).

14. As Bitcoin surged in price at the end of 2017, Joseph Stiglitz stated that ‘Bitcoin is
successful only because of its potential for circumvention, lack of oversight… So it
seems to me it ought to be outlawed. It doesn’t serve any socially useful function.’
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Please discuss critically, drawing from data, academic sources, readings, lectures,
where appropriate.

15. “The development of full artificial intelligence (AI) could spell the end of the
human race.”, warned Professor Stephen Hawking in 2014. Elon Musk called AI ‘our
greatest existential threat’. Bill Gates stated that ‘“I am in the camp that is
concerned about super intelligence. First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and
not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades
after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon
Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not
concerned.’

discuss critically, drawing from data, academic sources, readings, lectures,

 

 

 

Sample Solution

ACED ESSAYS