University of Technology Sydney

26823 Adaptive Sustainable Enterprise

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2024 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Business
Credit points: 3 cp

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject employs a stakeholder management perspective to analyse organisational strategies, practices and processes that enable sustainable, high-performing organisations. Adopting a systems approach, the subject equips students to identify and analyse the dynamic interrelationships and interdependencies between business activities, pluralistic and changing societal expectations and the challenges of operating within Earth's Systems. Students evaluate current business models and design an adaptive approach to integrate sustainability-oriented innovation into organisational strategies, practices and processes or as a means for creating additional value. It provides essential skills that allow change-makers to successfully frame external opportunities to proactively create a dialogue to raise awareness of the imperative to act and develop the business case to enable the transition.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
1. Demonstrate comprehension of the sustainability imperative in strategies, practices and models of organisations
2. Critically apply sustainable business models and frameworks to evaluate strategies and practices
3. Apply the principles and tools of complex systems thinking to sustainable business challenges and/or opportunities
4. Develop and communicate the benefits of an adaptive change process for a transition to sustainability for an organisation

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

This subject develops students' knowledge and analytical skills in applying contemporary sustainability frameworks to the strategies, practices, and policies of a various business models. Students develop an understanding of how to assess risks and opportunities of complex sustainability issues arising from social, ecological and economic systems. The knowledge developed in this subject enables students to confidently propose plans for corporate transformation through the execution of sustainable development plans.

This subject contributes to the development of the following graduate attribute(s):

  • Social responsibility and cultural awareness
  • Professional and technical competence

Teaching and learning strategies

The subject is offered in blended learning mode during the short teaching periods of six weeks duration. The teaching and learning approach is a mix of online learning and in-class seminars typically scheduled over three evening seminars. Classes are based on blended and flipped learning approaches: students engage with learning materials (including papers, book extracts, videos, etc.) before attending seminars.

Seminars include guided critical discussion of learning materials, group work on contemporary case studies, scenarios, workshops, peer discussions and learning from students own professional experiences. Discussions and application of theory, case studies and best practices are supported by online learning and communication tools and the UTS learning management system.

A formative assessment provides students with feedback to direct their self-study. Ongoing general and individual feedback will be provided throughout the subject via consultation seminars. A summative assessment provides feedback on students' comprehension and application of learning. Students also receive formal feedback on assessment tasks.

Content (topics)

  • Sustainability and systems
  • Drivers of sustainability
  • Sustainability models, strategies and practices
  • Sustainability transition strategies


Assessment task 1: Sustainable Business Analysis (Individual)


This addresses subject learning objective(s):

1 and 2

Weight: 65%

Summary report (maximum 3 pages) and evaluation report (maximum 3,000 words)

  • Coherence of synthesis demonstrating precise strategic insights and complexity
  • Critical evaluation and application of sustainability and systems tools and strategies to business
  • Extent of and diversity of evidence sources
  • Information is communicated with clarity and impact for the intended audience

Assessment task 2: Adaptive Change Proposal (Individual)


This addresses subject learning objective(s):

3 and 4

Weight: 35%

Maximum ten pages

  • Critical evaluation of the sustainability imperative as a context for adaptation, resilience and change
  • Development of realistic and achievable course of action acknowledging complexity and implementation hurdles
  • Identification of limitations and contradictions (in data, practices, assumptions)

Minimum requirements

Students must achieve at least 50% of the subject’s total marks and complete both assessment tasks.

Required texts

Benn, S., Edwards, M., & Williams, T. (2018). Organisational Change for Corporate Sustainability.


Benn, S., Edwards, M., & Williams, T. (2018). Organisational Change for Corporate Sustainability.

Bocken, N., S. Short, P. Rana and S. Evans, "A literature and practice review to develop sustainable business model archetypes", Journal of Cleaner Production, 65, 42–56.

Markard, J., Raven, R., & Truffer, B. (2012). Sustainability transitions: An emerging field of research and its prospects. Research policy, 41(6): 955-967.

Reeves, M., Levin, S., & Ueda, D. (2016). The biology of corporate survival. Harvard Business Review, 94(1): 46-55.

Schad, J. and Bansal, P., 2018. Seeing the forest and the trees: How a systems perspective informs paradox research. Journal of Management Studies, 55(8), 1490-1506.

Steffen, W., Richardson, K., Rockström, J., Cornell, S.E., Fetzer, I., Bennett, E.M., Biggs, R., Carpenter, S.R., de Vries, W., de Wit, C.A. and Folke, C., (2015). Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet. Science, 347(6223): 736-46.

Zott, C., & Amit, R. (2010). Business model design: an activity system perspective. Long range planning, 43(2): 216-226.