MBA - Sustainable Commerce

Become the sustainability expert of your organization

In today’s global and complex economy, businesses need to focus their efforts on more than just the financial bottom line. The MBA in Sustainable Commerce emphasizes responsible social and environmental business practices as well as traditional financial drivers for growth and sustainability.
This approach allows you to develop your skills as a leader in sustainable commerce. Let us show you how to build triple-bottom-line focused strategies to help your organization thrive.

The University of Guelph is known across Canada for its commitment to sustainability and developing leaders with a social conscience. With our MBA specialization in Sustainable Commerce you will explore what social and environmental sustainability means within an organizational context. You’ll become a leader within your industry that inspires positive change, and supports the growing demand for socially responsible businesses. This MBA specialization draws participants from a variety of different industries, including finance, hi-tech and agribusiness.

As a student in the Sustainable Commerce specialization, you will:

  • Develop an advanced understanding of how sustainability can be integrated into an organization 
  • Enhance your leadership and management abilities by learning from faculty who have developed game-changing research on sustainability and corporate social responsibility
  • Elevate your career potential by specializing in a business segment with a growing demand

Dan Sparrow

“The sustainable commerce focus provided the differentiation against general or leadership MBA programs. While profitability is still the primary goal, large corporations recognize that stakeholders expect businesses to have a social conscience as well.”  

Dan Sparrow, MBA, VP Esko

Sample Courses

Guelph's MBA program is a mix of core management and leadership courses with specialized, industry specific courses.

Below are the sustainability focused courses within the sustainable commerce MBA specialization:

  • Sustainable Value Creation (BUS*6600 - core MBA course)

    Many organizations have redefined their business strategies in line with principles of sustainable value creation for the organization and its stakeholders. If companies hope to succeed in both the short and the long term, a focus on ‘the triple bottom line’ of economic, social and environmental value is now required. Firms are beginning to view sustainable value creation as a competitive strategy in a global market where the old models of economic profit may not address stakeholder expectations.  In addition, there are growing expectations for business transparency and accountability for corporate social responsibility and responsible environmental management and there are increasing numbers of businesses around the world producing voluntary sustainability reports on their social and environmental activities. 

    This course examines the opportunities and challenges for organizations that aspire to engage in sustainable value creation by drawing on insights from corporate social responsibility and sustainable development and practice. It explores the role of organizational leaders as critical, strategic and integrative thinkers who can navigate the complexity of a continuously evolving corporate landscape, where stakeholder expectations require strategic leadership and socially responsible decision making.  In this course students will critically examine sustainability initiatives and strategic approaches to value creation and will explore the organizational and leadership implications of these innovative frames. 

    This course is designed to provide an introduction to the relevance of sustainability as a strategic framework for driving value creation and to enhance critical thinking skills that will enable students to more effectively identify and formulate strategic sustainability initiatives for organizations.  
  • Business Practices for Sustainability (BUS*6300)

    This course focuses on exploring critical managerial and strategic issues related to sustainability and aims to introduce students to emerging concepts linking organizational strategies and sustainability principles. It explores how managers can integrate consideration of the environment and society into business strategies and practices for competitive advantage and create environmental, social and economic value.

    Many businesses are striving to improve their social and environmental performance as well as their economic performance and are driven to apply sustainability strategies and principles into their strategic action, and are increasingly applying strategic management tools to incorporate considerations of sustainability into decision-making and operations. While some businesses incorporate sustainable practices due to an ethical conviction to do well for society and the environment, most are motivated to address pressures from stakeholders such as regulators, shareholders, customers, communities and competitors, and to exploit knowledge and experience for long term competitive advantage. Businesses and their leaders are addressing sustainability generally for reputational reasons, to cut their cost and for sustained competitive advantage. Industries are also recognizing the need to become sustainable to respond to the global environment and the changing needs of their constituents.

    This course aims to introduce students to sustainability topics to increase their knowledge of strategies related to corporate sustainability and business practices to align the corporation with sustainable commerce. 

  • Governance for Sustainability (BUS*6500)

    This course introduces MBA students to the rise of environmentalism and state-led environmental management, and the more recent emergence of environmental governance as made evident by the growing authority of non-state actors (e.g., ENGOs, business associations, etc.) and the use of new mechanisms of management (e.g., voluntary standards, third party certification, etc.). These core topics are presented as both opportunities and challenges for private firms such as climate-related disasters and fisheries decline. Students will critically evaluate past and contemporary environmentalism, and approaches to environmental governance and creatively conceive of alternative governance approaches that are consistent with the interests of sustainable commerce. This course provides students with an opportunity to conceptualize environmental issues, various governance strategies and the competing agendas that seek to address them.
  • Marketing Strategy (BUS*6850)

    An advanced course in marketing and consumption, students will explore topics including marketing theories, models, and specific subsets of marketing such as pricing, consumer and industrial-buyer behaviour, distribution, services, and service-delivery concepts. Students will be expected to identify and prioritize strategic marketing challenges and objectives and understand the importance of market intelligence and core competencies of the organization to develop a successful marketing strategy, recommend and justify competitive marketing strategies, design and critique marketing tactics that are consistent with an organization’s marketing strategy. As marketing principles are not unique to any industry, students enrolled in sustainable commerce, agribusiness & hospitality, food and tourism will participate in the same concept discussions and work on same case studies.
  • Global Business Today (BUS*6450 - elective)

    This course surveys the key issues related to doing business internationally including the cultural context for global business, cross border trade and investment, ethics, the global monetary system, foreign exchange challenges and effectively competing in the global environment.

    This course is designed to provide MBA students with a survey of the many challenges and opportunities currently being faced when operating within the global marketplace. Students are exposed to a variety of different theories and strategies for successfully navigating many of the unique situations prevalent in the international business environment and will both grow their knowledge of operations in international markets. This course will have students exploring topics, including how businesses assess intellectual property, consumer protection, and product liability issues when embarking on foreign ventures. Students are expected to fully comprehend and explain the evolution of globalization; describe key areas of theoretical and practical applications involved in global business today, including country differences and ethics in international business; explain the value in understanding different cultural models and their impact on organizational success; and determine the best strategies for competing in the global marketplace.

  • Canadian Business Law (BUS*6400 - elective)

    This course will introduce students to Canadian business law and provide an understanding of legal principals as they apply to business organizations. After reviewing basic foundational concepts and sources of law in Canada, we will undertake a more in-depth review of practical legal issues and solutions that arise in various business environments. Topics include contracts, torts, employment law, class action and conflict resolution.


View full MBA course calendar


Updated 6/7/2018