Creating Futures: Sustainable Enterprise and Innovation

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This Course Guide has been taken from the most recent presentation of the course. It would be useful for reference purposes but please note that there may be updates for the following presentation.


Creating Futures: Sustainable Enterprise and Innovation

Welcome to BUS 3027BED Creating Futures: Sustainable Enterprise and Innovation! This is a nine-credit-unit, one-term, 3000-level course for undergraduate students offered by the Lee Shau Kee School of Business and Administration.

The value of BUS 3027BED is that it provides you with knowledge and experience of innovation and entrepreneurship that can be transferred to your specialist subject area, as well as a variety of contexts within commercial, public sector, and third sector enterprises. It draws on relevant research evidence, theories, concepts and frameworks, and addresses the relationships between innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainability at a conceptual and practical level. It offers you a basic understanding of varied aspects of social enterprises and social businesses, such as their inherent worthiness, values and corporate social innovation, as well as their organisational cultures, and shows you how such enterprises and businesses can meet sustainable development goals. Finally, BUS 3027BED gives you an overview of development that balances social, economic and environmental sustainability.

BUS 3027BED is delivered using a set of four study units, course readings (adopted from the UK Open University course B327), online multimedia components, and regular learning support sessions.


Course aims

The aims of BUS 3027BED Creating Futures: Sustainable Enterprise and Innovation are to:

  • provide you with intermediate to advanced conceptual and practical learning in entrepreneurship and innovation in a range of contexts;
  • enable you with the knowledge, understanding and skills you need for developing independent research and conducting online collaboration as you engage in enterprise and innovation practices in new and existing organisations; and
  • provide you with a comprehensive introduction to various topics related to how entrepreneurship and innovation can be used to satisfy individual goals while contributing to solving societal problems in an ethical and sustainable manner.


Course learning outcomes

Upon completing BUS 3027BED, you should be able to:

  • discuss the impact of innovation and entrepreneurship on society, both at a conceptual and a practical level;
  • examine entrepreneurship and innovations within a specialist real world setting to solve societal challenges; create and manage sustainable forms of innovative and entrepreneurial ventures within a range of specialist areas; and
  • apply business theories, concepts and frameworks of innovation and entrepreneurship to identify the strategy, process and operations of enterprises at different stages of their life cycle.

The course is based around a set of four study units, course readings and multimedia components, supported by regular learning sessions. The study materials for this course can all be found on the BUS 3027BED course page of the University’s Online Learning Environment (OLE).


The study units

The study units set out your study pathway through the course readings and other course learning resources. They provide you with learning material, such as case studies, articles and activities that are designed to facilitate your understanding of each topic. As you work through the study units, you will also come across various study tips that aim to improve your study skills.

You’ll therefore need to keep referring to the units as you work through the course. There are four units, as follows:

Unit 1 Societal impacts of entrepreneurship and innovation: Unit 1 introduces you to the societal impacts of enterprise and innovation, and to the tools and techniques you will need to identify, analyse and manage throughout the course. This unit also articulates the underlying principle of the course, which is about using entrepreneurship and innovation to solve societal problems in an ethical and sustainable manner, considered at different stages of an enterprise life cycle. This unit ends with you preparing and submitting your first assignment.

Unit 2 Experiencing sustainable entrepreneurship and innovation: This unit examines how entrepreneurship and innovation can be used to solve societal challenges (e.g. social inclusion, environmental protection, and economic and community development) through an experiential learning experience.

Unit 3 The Sustainable Enterprise Challenge: Unit 3 gives you the chance to create and manage an enterprise as part of a team through a computer-assisted business simulation. A scenario will be provided to you based on an enterprise that has just been launched, and that is expected to provide an innovative and sustainable solution to a defined societal problem. Student teams will then be created and tasked with completing a series of decision-making challenges. You will complete your second assignment after this unit.

Unit 4 Critical reflection and integration: In Unit 4 you will integrate your learning from Units 1 to 3 to produce your final assessment.


The course reader

The primary role of the BUS 3027BED Reader is to provide you with an easy-to-access source for longer pieces of written material that examine key definitions, concepts and issues in sustainable enterprise and innovation. The course team have selected the readings carefully to provide a wide-ranging survey of the field. All the chapters and case studies are written by members of the original course production team and draw on their own research specialisms.

The Reader contains seven chapters and four extended case studies. Specific sections in the chapters and case studies are linked to specific activities in the BUS 3027BED Study Guide; you will be directed to read these selections at appropriate times in your study.


Learning support

In addition to live online lectures, weekly live online surgeries and day schools (compulsory, in person), a variety of learning support services are provided to assist you in your studies. These include the Online Learning Environment (OLE) and the My Milestone Tracker mobile app.


The Online Learning Environment (OLE)

The main place you will refer to for learning resources during the course is HKMU’s Online Learning Environment (OLE). There you will have access not only to the course materials (including the study units and the course readings) in different formats (both PDF and ePub versions), but also to a rich array of multimedia materials such as videos, Web-based activities and video lectures. At the same time, you will be able to discuss topics with other students and your tutor interactively via the course discussion board.


Learning support sessions

You will be supported throughout the course by regular learning sessions in the form of live online lectures and surgeries, and day schools (compulsory; in person). Details of the dates and times of these sessions can be found in the Presentation Schedule on the OLE. The following is a summary of the learning sessions offered.


Learning support
UnitLive online
(2 hours each)
Live online surgeries
(1 hour each)
Day schools
(6 hours each)
1Live online lecture 1Live online surgeries 1–3Day school 1
(compulsory; in person)
2Live online lecture 2Live online surgeries 4–7 6
3Live online lecture 3Live online surgeries 8–10Day school 2
(compulsory; in person)
4Live online lecture 4Live online surgeries 11–13 5
Revision Live online surgery 14–16 3
Total4 live online lectures16 live online surgeries2 day schools36 support hours


My Milestone Tracker mobile app

The My Milestone Tracker mobile app is specifically designed to help you check your study progress, such as your completion of assessment components, along the learning journey of the course.



During the course, students of BUS 3027BED will have their progress assessed both formally and informally.

Informal assessment includes your participation in completing various case studies, web activities, online lecture polls and online discussions that you will undertake while working your way through the study files and course readings. Your participation reflects your understanding of study materials covered in Units 1 to 4. This assessment component is worth 10% of the total marks for the course.

Formal assessment consists of assignments and a final oral presentation (compulsory).

  • Three individual assignments are worth 70% of the total marks of the You are expected to apply, organise and elaborate on what you have learnt to complete writing tasks on specific business and management topics. The three assignments evaluate study materials covered in Units 1 to 4.
  • One oral presentation (compulsory assignment) is worth 20% of the total marks for the It also evaluates study materials covered in Units 1 to 4.

To pass this course, you are required to obtain no less than 40% of the maximum marks (100%), obtain a pass in the oral presentation (compulsory assignment), and participate in both compulsory day schools in person.


Assessment summary

Details of the summative assessment items are outlined in the following table.


UnitParticipation (10%)Assignments (70%)Oral presentation
(Compulsory assignment) (20%)
Unit 1Lecture poll 1 — Week 3
Unit 2Lecture poll 2 — Week 6
Assignment 1 — Week 6
(Units 1 and 2)
Unit 3Lecture poll 3 — Week 10
Assignment 2 — Week 1
(Units 2 and 3)
Unit 4Lecture poll 4 — Week 13
Units 1–4Day school attendance (in person) and participation in discussions
Assignment 3 — Week 14
(Units 1 to 4)
Oral presentation (compulsory assignment) — date to be announced


How to submit assignments

You must use word processing software (such as Microsoft Word) to prepare the assignments, and submit them via the Online Learning Environment (OLE). All assignments must be uploaded to the OLE by the due date.

Failure to upload an assignment in the required format to the OLE may result in the score of the assignment being adjusted to zero.


Assignment extension policy

The assignment policy of the University as stated in the Student Handbook should be observed. You are required to submit assignments for this course in accordance with the dates communicated by your Course Coordinator. You may apply for a submission extension on the grounds of illness, accident, disability, bereavement or other compassionate circumstances.

Applications for extensions of up to seven days should be submitted to the tutor. The tutor shall consider valid and unexpected emergencies on an individual basis. Normally, documented proof of the extenuating circumstances is not required for extensions of up to seven days. The tutor shall decide and advise you of the revised date for submission.

For extensions of over seven days, you should note the following:

  1. If you require an extension of more than seven days on the grounds of illness, accident, disability, bereavement or other compassionate circumstances, you are required to submit your application to the Course Coordinator via the OLE.
  2. Supporting documents must be submitted along with the application for extension of over seven days to justify the claim.
  3. Applications for extension should normally be lodged before or on the due date.
  4. Applications are considered by:
    1. the Course Coordinator for extensions of 8 to 21 days; and
    2. the Dean for extensions of over 21 days.

After an assignment is submitted via the OLE, it is your responsibility to check that the assignment has been successfully submitted. Extension applications due to any problem with uploading will not be accepted. The University cannot accept any responsibility for assignments that are not received by your tutor due to any problem with submission via the OLE. As a precaution, you are advised to keep a copy of each assignment you submit.

According to the University’s policy, no extension of the due date will be allowed for the final assignment. This policy will be strictly enforced. Any late submission of the final assignment will result in the score of the assignment being adjusted to zero.


How to participate in online lecture polls

The online lecture polls will be available on the OLE and will be conducted during live online lectures. Students who join the live online lectures will complete the polls during the lecture time. Students who do not join the lectures in real-time can complete the polls during a set period of time (details will be posted on the OLE) after watching the recordings of the online lectures.

Within the specified period, you can attempt the online lecture poll one time and submit your answers before the poll closes. Once you have submitted your answers, you will not be able to change or re-submit them. Also, if you open a poll on the OLE but do not attempt it, you will get zero marks for that poll.

The following table gives a general overview of the course structure, including the number of weeks allocated to each unit, the assessment requirements and the learning support provided.


UnitWeeksAssessmentLearning support
1. Societal impacts of entrepreneurship and innovationWeek 1 Live online lecture 1
Day school 1
(compulsory; in person)
Live online surgeries 1–3
Week 2 
Week 3Lecture poll 1
2. Experiencing sustainable entrepreneurship and innovationWeek 4 Live online lecture 2
Live online surgeries 4–7
Week 5 
Week 6Assignment 1
Lecture poll 2
Week 7 
3. The Sustainable Enterprise ChallengeWeek 8 Live online lecture 3
Day school 2
(compulsory; in person)
Live online surgeries 8–10
Week 9 
Week 10Lecture poll 3
Assignment 2
4. Critical reflection and integrationWeek 11 Live online lecture 4
Live online surgeries 11–13
Week 12 
Week 13Lecture poll 4
Revision and completion of final assignmentWeek 14Assignment 3Live online surgeries 14–16
RevisionWeek 15Oral presentation
Week 16 

Case studies are a useful and increasingly popular form of learning and assessment in HKMU’s School of Business and Administration. In this section we will look at why case studies are used and then suggest some learning strategies that you can use to approach case studies. We will also briefly discuss some problems that you may encounter as you learn from case studies.


What is a case study approach to learning?

One main purpose of a case study is to explore an issue or a number of issues in relation to an organisation. The intention is to get you to carefully diagnose an organisation; to focus on key problems, and to suggest how these might be resolved. Often the case is a real-life account of an organisation which you are required to analyse in order to focus on a problem. Usually, the information that is provided is incomplete and you are often expected to observe developments in the organisation over a period of time. The case study approach is an excellent opportunity to actively apply material that you have read and conceptual knowledge to the reality of an organisation.

At HKMU, case studies may be used as part of assignments, exams, study units, or day school exercises. You normally are given some information about a company (this could be both text and graphical information, such as figures and tables). You are then asked to think about some problems related to the company and to use concepts and apply theories that you have learned in your course to propose possible solutions for the company.

Let’s have a look at two kinds of case study questions that you might be asked to work through in your courses. The first example is quite structured, while the second is much more open-ended.


Two examples of case study questions

  1. Read the case study entitled ‘ABC Consultants’ and consider the following issues:
    • Using your understanding of the resource-based model, what measures could be taken to improve ABC’s returns?
    • Drawing on your broad understanding of the consultancy industry, assess ABC’s relative competitiveness and its profit potential.
    • To what extent do internal factors account for ABC’s financial weaknesses?
    • Based on your assessment of ABC’s financial weaknesses, formulate a new strategic intent and develop a mission statement for ABC.
  2. Read the case study entitled ‘XYZ Industries’.
    • Identify the key problems that are currently faced by XYZ’s management.
    • Propose viable solutions to these problems.


Why case studies?

As you can see from the above examples, a case study approach to learning requires a great deal of thinking and often will not easily yield a quick ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ answer. However, case studies are also good preparation for dealing with real-life business problems. Cases may be short and relatively simple, or longer and complex. The purpose is the same for both types: to give you an opportunity to develop your skills in analysing the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation under examination, to consider the processes at work within the organisation, and to make decisions about future actions.

Case studies are not meant to replace textbooks, but rather to ask you to draw connections between theories and practice and to apply abstract ideas, concepts, and principles to specific concrete situations. Consequently, case analysis develops a number of skills that are crucial in business. In particular, they help you to:

  • analyse complex, unstructured, sometimes ambiguous situations;
  • identify critical issues and problems;
  • question your own and others’ assumptions;
  • improve your problem-solving skills;
  • develop your ability to find alternatives and make informed decisions;
  • make decisions with incomplete information and think strategically;
  • self-educate yourself and draw on a broad range of resources and knowledge; and
  • present and justify recommendations in writing.

You may find that there are many possible ‘right’ answers to the questions in a case study. This illustrates that there is often no single best way to responsibly manage and solve real-life business problems.


Some guidelines for analysing case studies

The following strategies should help you to successfully analyse case studies:


1 Read the case and become familiar with the facts

First, skim read the case to obtain a general understanding of the main point(s). Highlight or underline the pertinent points as you read.

Read the case again, and this time note down critical facts (such as names, time sequences, and where events occurred). Try to understand how events have influenced decisions.

Identify the important individuals or stakeholders, and try to assess the importance of supporting information in the case. How reliable is this supporting information? Are there any gaps in the information that is given?

Make a note of any questions that you have as you read the case.


2 Assess the context of the case

Try to understand the environment of the organisation and the wider context of the case. Ask yourself questions about:

  • The state of the organisation: What is the state of this organisation: good, bad or in- between? Usually this involves thinking about interpersonal relationships, and assessing production or financial
  • Key players and systems: How do systems and people operate in this organisation? Why do they operate like this? Are the systems undergoing change? How successful are the changes? Is there someone who could sabotage any future strategy? Is there someone who can ensure the success of a future strategy?
  • Significant trends: How does this industry operate? What are the main or unique characteristics of the industry? What were they five or ten years ago, and what are they likely to be in the future? What impact are trends likely to have on the organisation under investigation? How does this organisation’s performance compare with that of competitors?
  • Constraints: Clearly identify all constraints in the A constraint may be viewed as anything (usually beyond the control of the organisation) that may prevent an otherwise feasible course of action from becoming a success. What is outside the control of individuals in the case study? For example, it is unlikely that any company or individual in Hong Kong could prevent a foreign government from imposing tariff barriers on imports.

Doing a SWOT analysis is a good way to get a better understanding of the organisation and the context or environment in which it is operating. A SWOT analysis considers the Strengths and Weaknesses of the organisation, and the Opportunities and Threats which the organisation faces in the external environment.


3 Recognize the case’s symptoms

Read the case again and as you read, try listing all the symptoms of the case. The symptoms of a case are not the problems, but they may help you to identify the problems. Symptoms are all the things that are undesirable or that are not as expected. For example, falling sales could be a symptom of several problems such as poor market segmentation, poor product quality, or problems in a supply chain. At this stage of your analysis, you should just try to observe all the symptoms, and avoid prematurely identifying problems or suggesting solutions. Like a doctor who consults a patient, you first need to observe and note all the symptoms before you can give a definite diagnosis of the problem. Think about how the symptoms may be interrelated. Relationship diagrams, like the one below, may help you to see the relationships between symptoms.




4 Diagnose the case’s problems

After you have a good sense of the symptoms, you’re ready to determine key issues that need to be analysed more closely. You are now diagnosing the situation, like a doctor diagnosing a patient’s symptoms. Ask yourself ‘what seems to be the trouble in this organisation?’ and make a list of what you now perceive to be the key problem(s). You will probably need to go back to the details of the case and as you do this, you may add to or refine your list of potential problems.

If there are several problems, you need to order and prioritise them. You might want to number problems according to how you perceive their importance, or make a matrix, like the one below, which shows relationships between various criteria and each problem.


CriteriaProblem #1Problem #2Problem #3
Importance: What will happen if the problem is not addressed?   
Urgency: How quickly must this problem be solved?   
Centrality: To what extent does this problem cause others?   
Solvability: Can this problem actually be solved?   


Also try to establish if there are relationships or themes in common among the various problems. Perhaps different problems in your list are actually variations of a broader central problem.

Ask yourself what assumptions you have made about the case. Are these assumptions reasonable, and are they supported by the facts? Would other people objectively suggest the same problems, based on the facts that you have? Are you suggesting problems that are not supported by the facts of the case?

After you have considered and put into order the possible problems and questioned your assumptions relating to these problems, you should write a statement of the problems as you perceive them. Avoid suggesting solutions at this stage.

Once you have a problem statement, you need to find evidence in the case to support your problem diagnosis. Also, try to identify ideas, concepts and theories from your textbook and course units which help to explain what is happening in the case.


5 Formulate criteria for a ‘good’ solution and identify possible constraints to solutions

Before you propose a solution, you need to consider the characteristics of a ‘good’ solution. Obviously, your solution should bring benefits such as improved productivity, reduced costs or greater profits. However, it also needs to be viable and to accommodate the constraints that you have already identified, i.e. Is the solution legal? Is there a budget for this solution? Does it conflict with the organisation’s culture?

Try to brainstorm alternative solutions. Aim to generate a broad and creative range of options and then try to rate each according to various criteria.

The following matrix demonstrates how this can be done.


 CostEase of implementationImpact on organization cultureImpact on profits
Option 1*******
Option 2*********
Option 3********


Also refer to ideas, concepts and theories from your course materials as you consider and assess each possible solution.

It’s often wise to propose a solution that allows for plausible alternatives if it should fail. Managers use the term satisfice when they are considering acceptable alternative solutions, that is, the solution is able to satisfy the situation while also making some realistic sacrifices to existing constraints. Therefore, it is a satisficing rather than a maximising solution.

Finally, don’t forget to consider the possibility of taking no action. What will actually happen if no action is taken? Are any (or all) of the solutions less viable than taking no action at all?


6 Recommend a viable solution

After you have assessed the merits and pitfalls of each alternative solution, select the best solution for the situation.

Remember that the solution needs to be viable. Can the recommended solution be introduced? Are there the resources and the willingness to implement it? Be realistic about what may work. Explain why it is the best solution within the constraints of the existing context and explain how it can be applied to the organisation. Suggest a time-frame for the solution’s implementation.

Outline possible strategies for implementing your solution, either partially or completely. As many feasible courses of action as possible should be considered before you choose the one that seems the most likely to succeed. The more ideas you have, the greater your chance will be of finding a solution that will work well. The complexity of most organisational problems means that it is highly unlikely that one idea alone will correct the situation. Usually a combination of actions is required, and these need to be funded differently, timed carefully and staffed as necessary.


7 Present your solution as a written recommendation

Review your final solutions and then prepare a set of written recommendations. These should clearly outline your proposed solution in relation to the problems that you have identified.

Your recommendations should also include details of why these solutions are the most appropriate given the circumstances and constraints of the case. Finally, you need to clearly state how and when your proposals will be implemented.

Your tutor and your course Assignment File can provide some guidelines on how to present your recommendations.

When you first tackle case studies, you should be careful to guard against the following mistakes:

  1. One of the most common mistakes made in case analysis is repeating or simply summarising the facts of the Your tutor is already very familiar with the case details, so you do not have to restate them. You are required to use and analyse the facts, not repeat them. Your analysis should contain only enough case material to support your arguments. Therefore, be analytical!
  2. You may often be tempted to just deal with symptoms and ignore the causes of the It is very important to analyse the background of the case (and the climate in which the events of the case unfold).
  3. Avoid discussing problems in isolation and do not overlook their interrelatedness. If you try to think in terms of ‘systems’ rather than in terms of individual problems, you are more likely to avoid this pitfall.
  4. Students often fail to state the assumptions underlying their If any important assumptions have been made, have you questioned them and are they reasonable and appropriate? Avoid selectively using and interpreting case material in order to justify a preconceived solution.
  5. Practical limitations and constraints may sometimes be For example, a recommendation that a whole team be fired is probably unrealistic.
  6. A very common mistake is poor integration of the facts in the case with the concepts, principles, and theories in the Such integration is vital. Ask yourself if relevant theories from your course have been fully and constructively applied.
  7. Finally, recommendations are too often not spelled out in detail or are A timetable for implementing them is also often not given.

Analysing cases poses many challenges, and this is one reason the case study method is so rewarding. It is a very active form of learning. It offers you a risk-free opportunity to gain managerial and organisational experience and should greatly increase your confidence to make informed decisions in the real world.

Good luck and we hope you enjoy working through the cases that you encounter!

BUS 3027BED Creating Futures: Sustainable Enterprise and Innovation covers the intricate and critically important linkages between innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainability in new and existing enterprises. We have designed several innovative learning activities and enterprise cases that should help to bring the subject to life. We have also drawn on leading- edge research on innovation and entrepreneurship and the latest approaches to enterprise education, which emphasise subject knowledge, skills, and personal development planning alongside more traditional academic approaches. The course materials should be relevant, regardless of your background.

This course aims to develop your cognitive, practical and professional skills for your studies and work situation. It focuses in particular on the conceptual and practical learning in entrepreneurship and innovation in different specialist sectors, articulating how entrepreneurship and innovation can be used to satisfy individual goals and develop your independent research and online collaborative skills necessary to engage in enterprise and innovation practices in new and existing organisations. You should find that BUS 3027BED provides you with good opportunities to see how the different management functions (human resources, accounting and finance, operations, marketing) need to be adapted and integrated when you are working in a new enterprise, or when you are trying to transform an existing enterprise.

BUS 3027BED covers the following topics: societal impacts of entrepreneurship and innovation, researching entrepreneurship and innovation, sustainable enterprise challenge, inter-relationship among function areas of entrepreneurship and innovation, and ethical and sustainability considerations. You will also see that this course is grounded in the world of both commercial and social enterprises, but it’s about more than just the success of individual business ventures. Many of the core concepts you’ll be studying have a role to play in addressing societal challenges. The course builds in activities that will help you to use your learning from the course materials to make personal development planning and career decisions in your life.

The course is presented through a blend of written and multimedia materials which can all be accessed on the OLE. As you work through BUS 3027BED, you will need to refer to your study units and course readings, and you are provided with support through regular learning sessions.

The course is assessed through polls, participation, three assignments and a final oral presentation.

We wish you all the best for your studies, and hope that you find BUS 3027BED to be rewarding, challenging, and valuable, and that it will deepen your experience and career development.

If you wish to defer your studies of this course until a later date, you should apply for deferment of studies. For the regulations governing deferment of studies, please refer to your Student Handbook. If you have applied for deferment of studies you should continue with your studies of this course and submit the required assignments until formal approval is given by the University. Should you have difficulty in submitting an assignment, you are advised to liaise with your Course Coordinator and apply for an assignment extension. Students who have been granted deferment of studies will not be allowed to submit assignments due before the date that their application for deferment of studies is received by Registry.

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