Sustainable Operations


The social and environmental impact of businesses has become a central issue in modern society. Communities are demanding higher standards of air, water, and soil quality. Climate change is constantly on the news. Social welfare inequality has been rising. Consumers are becoming more aware and conscious of the social impact of business practices. Even though the technology and products to address many of today's global environmental and social challenges already exist, many communities lack access to them. This course is aimed at analyzing and designing operations processes and strategies to deliver these solutions to those who need them the most. The first goal of this course is to provide students with a toolset that will allow them to analyze, evaluate, improve, and create operations that address some of the major challenges faced by humankind. Exemplary topics include building a circular economy, sustainable agriculture, scaling the operations of a profitable business that addresses a social challenge, industry self-regulation, and digital transformation. The second goal of the course is for students to identify sustainability goals for an industry they are interested in, and to propose and evaluate business models that achieve these goals.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Utku Serhatli


Weekly - Available soon

Total - Available soon

Teaching language





Yunus, M., Moingeon, B. and Lehmann-Ortega, L., 2010. Building social business models: Lessons from the Grameen experience. Long range planning, 43(2-3), pp.308-325. 

Calmon, A.P., Nanjie, A. Romero. G., 2017. "Essmart: Contracts and Risk in the Base of the Pyramid". INSEAD Case 

Henderson, Rebecca M., Sophus A. Reinert, and Mariana Oseguera. "Climate Change in 2020: Implications for Business." Harvard Business School Background Note 320-087, January 2020 

Kittilaksanawong, Curcuraci, 2017. ¿Ferrero Group: Achieving Sustainability Through Supply Chain Integration¿, Ivey Publishing Case Study 

Lee, D. and Bony, L.J., 2009. "Cradle-to-cradle design at Herman Miller: moving toward environmental sustainability". Harvard Business School Case 607-003, May 2007. 

Teaching method

We will leverage many tools, methods, and frameworks. These include some operations models, case studies, business games, and group projects. In addition, we will review the modern schools of thought for these issues in a way that is relevant for entrepreneurs and managers. The course will be a mix of lectures and case discussions. As part of the course, students will also propose a business innovation that addresses a social or environmental need (either within an existing company or as a start-up idea) and write a couple of blog posts on Moodle page of the course. 

Evaluation method

Cases, readings & blog posts (15%)

Innovation Exercise (report and presentation) (25%)

Class Participation (10%)

Final Exam (50%) 

Subject matter

Business Model Innovation for Social and Environmental 

Designing Contracts and Managing risk in the Base of the Pyramid 

 Climate Change and Future of Food 

Sustainable Agriculture Initiatives: Certifications and Policy Making

Cradle to Cradle Design and Circular Economy

Business Model Innovation Exercise