CSR & NGO Management (MBA)
MBA Curriculum and Course Syllabus
Structured, practical and flexible - Perfect study conditions for busy people
The MBA curriculum specifics briefly explained
The seminars in the modular curriculum offer students an exciting and comprehensive opportunity to prepare them for their future tasks in the CSR and NGO professional field in a targeted, well-founded and practical manner, optional within three or five semesters. The program is built around its participants’ diverse international and professional backgrounds. The cooperative learning process thrives off interdisciplinary, intercultural exchange as well as diverse theoretical and practical approaches. In the following, the specifics of the MBA study plan and the study contents are specified and explained in more detail:
Structure of study & course modules
The study program has a modular structure. The classroom sessions on the weekends are completed through online tutorials and self-study phases. In each module, participants earn internationally recognized and transferable credits (ECTS). The standard period of study is three semesters full-time and five semesters part-time. In addition, the study program can be extended flexibly as needed. Thus, an individual adaptation of the study period is possible at any time, taking into account professional and family obligations.
Modularized study schedule
Modularization means that study content and courses are combined into larger, self-contained, and examinable content units. A module usually consists of several individual but thematically complementary courses. Candidates progress through the course program one module at a time during the course of the semester. Each module concludes with a module examination at the end of the course.
The postgraduate master's program bundles academic knowledge and practical know-how, scientific approaches, and general management techniques with a special focus on strategic and functional operations in the CSR and NGO management field into fixed module blocks, the MBA program enables graduates to blend conventional management strategies with aspects specific to NGOs and CSR.
Cooperative learning process and intercultural exchange
The program is geared toward the different international and professional backgrounds of the participants. The cooperative learning process thrives on interdisciplinary, intercultural exchange as well as on diverse theoretical and practical approaches. Classroom phases are rounded off by didactically coordinated online and self-learning elements.
Curricular alignment with the 2030 Agenda
The degree program explicitly refers to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations derived from it, thus reflecting the defined core features of universality, a comprehensive understanding of sustainability, and the principle of global partnerships. Development policy topics are covered in many aspects by the curriculum of the degree program.
The MBA curriculum in detail
Below, all modules and seminar contents are explained in detail semester by semester. The module handbook for our MBA program contains further, detailed semester-by-semester information on each module and the subordinate seminars in our MBA program.
1st semester: Preparatory courses
As a preparatory course, the Scholarly Writing course provides students with an overview of academic writing styles and refreshes their knowledge of formal requirements, document structure, referencing, and writing style. The course also covers common academic writing mistakes and offers solutions on how to avoid them.
This preparatory course serves as a foundation for the more advanced General Management 3 and General Management 4 modules and is to be taken by students through an independent study guided online learning unit at the beginning of the MBA studies, in the course of the welcome week. This involves learning and understanding the fundamentals of statistics, probability theory, and the study of data and data correlations. In addition, practical statistical analysis will be conducted to establish structures and trends for operational and strategic decision-making in non-profit and for-profit management.
1. Semester: Basics of CSR & NGO Management
The Basics module is divided into three sub-modules:
Basics 1, Basics 2, and Basics 3.
The module concludes with an examination in the form of a formative seminar paper.
Credit points: 6 ECTS
Workload: about 150 teaching hours
Basics 1: Concepts, Functions, and Actors in CSR & NGO Management
This seminar forms a technical basis for the further thematic course of studies. In addition to the clarification of the specific terminology, different concepts of the international field of action will be discussed and an overview of different actors and stakeholders in CSR and NGO management will be given. Furthermore, economic basics and challenges in international cooperation will be discussed and the differences between profit-oriented business enterprises and the non-profit approaches of NPOs or NGOs will be highlighted.
Basics 2: Corporate Governance
The fact that both parties benefit when NGOs and businesses work together has led to the creation of a significant number of strategic alliances, although no specific NGO governance framework exists to date. In this seminar, students will learn about the complexity of issues in different NGO sectors, such as organizational structure and the monitoring tasks that need to be performed. This course will further explore the multifaceted perspective of the relationships between NGOs, businesses, and organizations in the overarching field of corporate social responsibility.
Basics 3: Introduction to Business Management
Students receive an overview of the basic constitutional requirements and learn about the main areas of management action based on various corporate policy approaches (for example, shareholder value and stakeholder management). This course enables them to build strategic planning techniques and to implement management strategies on an operational level and also in the different organizational models.
1/2. Semester: General Management
The General Management module is divided into five individual modules (General Management is abbreviated by "GM" in the following overview):
GM 1: Information and Communication (1st semester).
GM 2: Leadership and Human Resource Management (1st semester)
GM 3: Monitoring and Evaluation (1st semester)
GM 4: Investment and Finance (1st semester)
GM 5: Logistics and Quality Management (2nd semester)
General Management 1: Information and Communication
The GM1 module comprises two complementary seminars on "Marketing" and "Fundraising, Lobbying & Campaigning". The module concludes with an examination in the form of a seminar paper.
Credit points: 5 ECTS
Workload: about 125 teaching hours
Marketing: In this seminar, students learn how to analyze and describe multidimensional environments and how organizations develop mission statements and goals for their marketing strategy as well as for individual measures. The principles of socially responsible marketing and the role of ethics are explored in more detail. By the end of this course, students will be able to develop and optimize marketing strategies and concepts with reference to influencing environmental factors.
Fundraising, Lobbying, and Campaigning: The course introduces students to the theories of marketing in business and non-profit organizations, as well as the roles and functions, concepts, and tools of successful fundraising, lobbying, and campaigning. National as well as international and intercultural focal points will be addressed. At the end of the seminar, students will be able to develop and manage fundraising and campaigning activities for NGOs and establish corporate social responsibility concepts.
General Management 2: Leadership and Human Resource Management
These two seminars are designed to provide employees and managers with the necessary techniques and an understanding of ethical behavior in their daily work. The module concludes with an examination in the form of a summative seminar paper.
Credit points: 6 ECTS
Workload: about 150 teaching hours
Negotiation Skills: The course provides students with an insight into the functions and dynamics of negotiation in an international and intercultural context. At the end of the course, students will be able to set an effective agenda, understand signals during the negotiation process and be able to conclude. The course focuses on international negotiations, cross-cultural features, decision-making, ethical aspects, and conflict and crisis management. Students are able to recognize the influence individuals, groups and structures have on the outcome of negotiations and how to apply negotiation strategies accordingly. Students are aware of their own negotiation culture, are able to use language and vocabulary appropriately in context, and are able to recognize and manage potential conflicts at each stage of a negotiation. They learn to understand values, reflect on interests and intercultural nuances between negotiating parties, and optimize their own behavior and role in the negotiation context.
Human Resources and Leadership Management: in this subject, students will learn the fundamental concept of attracting, developing, and maintaining an effective workforce. The basics of human resource management approaches (especially the Harvard vs. Michigan approach) and human resource management will be examined in more detail and discussed in a practical way in order to understand common tools and concepts, especially in cross-cultural settings. Students will learn how human resource management and leadership in strategic management can be adapted to environmental changes (e.g. demographics or human attitudes) and to the specifics of NGO settings (for example, working with volunteers or in intercultural development projects).
General Management 3: Monitoring and Evaluation
The GM3 module consists of three seminars dealing with the calculation and interpretation of business ratios and their interrelationships. The module concludes with a summative written attendance examination.
Credit points: 6 ECTS
Workload: about 150 teaching hours
Management Accounting: In this seminar, students gain an understanding of the fundamentals of finance and accounting as well as business planning with a focus on operational and strategic decision-making for non-profit management. The strategic importance of accounting to business decision-making from a shareholder value/stakeholder perspective is examined and discussed. Instruments such as balance sheets, financial reports, operational and strategic financial budgeting, and financial project planning are analyzed in a practical manner using case studies.
Impact Evaluation: focusing on development programs, this course aims to provide participants with a set of practical skills to assess the causal impact of a policy agenda or program. Examples are drawn from a variety of sectors, including agriculture, health, education, markets, microfinance, and governance. The course introduces students to basic econometric techniques of impact evaluation that will help them become both consumers and producers of applied empirical research in development. Students will not only learn to critically analyze evaluation research and assess how convincingly it establishes a causal relationship but will also apply these skills in a practical way in conducting an impact evaluation on an existing development project.
CSR Reporting Standards: As an integral part of managing sustainability programs, students in this seminar learn about the various standards and frameworks used to prepare sustainability reports, as well as the mandatory requirements at the national and regional levels. The focus will be on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards, the first and most widely used global standards for sustainability reporting. It also discusses the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) and other key standards and disclosure frameworks, including their recent developments. Based on these frameworks, students will evaluate CSR reports to identify and learn from best practices.
General Management 4: Investment and Finance
The courses of the GM4 module teach about investing in a social environment and address the issues of the legal, cultural, social, political, and economic backgrounds of such investments. The module ends with a summative written examination.
Credit points: 5 ECTS
Workload: about 125 teaching hours
Investment and Finance: Every investment entails a certain degree of risk and return. This means being aware of potential sources of risk, such as in the context of financing (liquidity, credit, and so on), as well as operating in a particular line of business, especially with a focus on non-profits. This course provides a thorough understanding of finance, investment, and entrepreneurial value creation, teaches the basic elements of financial mathematics, and capital budgeting, and provides an overview of the forms and methods of corporate finance. Furthermore, students will get a detailed introduction to social investment, and learn the basics of social investment developing a business case for social investment. Finally, students will be able to evaluate the financial potential, investment decisions, and financing of social investment projects and continuously monitor the success of social investments.
Social Investment: social investment is about supporting projects and ventures that support environmental or social goals or address social problems. It means balancing investment policy with social responsibility and is also referred to as ethical investing or socially responsible investing. Key policy areas include education, health care, climate change, environmental issues, renewable energy or water management programs, social equality programs and workshops, and rehabilitation. Many NGOs and NPOs are involved in social investment. This involves setting up feasible business plans, raising funds, and recruiting the right stakeholders. Students learn about social and environmental development projects in different cultures and how to assess current trends and activities in national and international NGOs. Another important component of the course includes basic instruction in the preparation of a professional business plan.
Business Simulation: The core of this course is to analyze, plan, test and improve the qualitative and quantitative description of processes. With the help of process modeling software, students learn in a realistic and practice-oriented way how to make various processes in their functional areas more transparent and how to optimize them.
General Management 5: Logistics and Quality Management
The courses in the Logistics and Quality Management module belong to the area of "Management Strategies and Functions". They are designed to familiarize students with disaster and quality management strategies and tools as well as logistical operations with a focus on NGOs. The module concludes with a summative examination in the form of a seminar paper.
Credit points: 5 ECTS
Workload: 125 teaching hours
Humanitarian Logistics and Disaster Management: Students will become familiar with disaster potential, the concepts of risk and consequence management and related challenges, roles, and responsibilities in the network of governmental, international, non-governmental, and other scientific and commercial organizations (national, UN, EU, NGOs, civil-military relations), and social responsibility in disaster management. Students will understand the role of logistics as the main service provider in disaster response and the integrated management required to move products through the humanitarian aid supply chain.
Quality Management and Business Excellence: students will gain an understanding of the concept of quality and management's commitment to maintaining a continuous, organization-wide pursuit of excellence in all products and services. Principles and techniques of quality management, the variety of quality management concepts and models are taught (TQM models: Kaizen, Malcolm-Baldrige model, ISO; Business Excellence concept and models: EFQM, CAF) and the questions answered on how to implement a quality management system in an organization.
2. Semester: CSR & NGO Management
The module with a focus on "CSR & NGO Management" includes the individual seminars described below:
- Management of Complex Projects
- NGO Business Strategy and Organization
- Corporate Social Responsibility I + II
- Business Simulation & Business Plan Development
The module concludes with an examination in the form of a summative group seminar paper (Business Plan).
Credit Points: 6 ECTS
Workload: approx. 420 teaching hours
Management of Complex Projects
In this seminar, students are taught advanced techniques for managing complex projects. Traditional project management approaches assume that the project context does not change and that key factors, even if complicated, can be distilled. However, these techniques do not work in projects that can be characterized as complex. Complexity can result from a variety of sources (multiplicity of variables, strong interdependencies between variables, long duration, multiple stakeholders, different cultural or institutional environments, etc.). Consequently, complex projects are associated with a high degree of uncertainty regarding the achievement of project objectives and/or implementation.
Students learn in this seminar how complexity in projects comes about and how they can identify project complexity based on individual underlying influencing factors and determine project cycles of complex projects. Furthermore, the limitations of conventional project management will be discussed. At the end of the seminar, students should be able to create a project design relevant to their field of activity, plan project implementation in detail, and take on the leadership role for complex projects.
NGO Business Strategy and Organization
In this course, students learn to recognize the importance of business and organizational strategy concepts in NGOs and learn how strategic planning (i.e. strategy, governance vs. management vs. operational level, shareholder vs. stakeholder, vision vs. mission) applies to NGOs. Course participants will further learn to understand the importance of strategic planning, monitoring, and evaluation and - taking into account current trends in the NGO world and using many real-life examples - will get an overview of the variety of different organizational structures in NGO organizations and how they are organized.
The seminar contents include basic concepts and definitions for strategies of corporate political management in NGOs, go into corporate strategic planning and control in companies (organizational development), shed light on the economic and legal environment of NGOs, and go into detail on the external NGO perspective (identification of relevant fields, structural analysis, implications for strategy development) as well as the internal NGO perspective (organizational analysis, NGO organization: OD concepts in NGOs, NGO M&A, internal resource evaluation, process analysis, budgeting and outcome, implications for strategy development). In the context of NGO strategy formulation, competitive or cooperative strategy approaches, differentiation strategy, public relations as well as niche strategies for NGOs will be addressed and consequently, the different controlling instruments (evaluation of strategies, with instruments such as potential analysis, future scenarios, early diagnosis systems for NGOs) will be analyzed based on the strategy. Last but not least, students learn about the personnel management concepts and management strategies established in NGOs and how to implement them in practice.
Corporate Social Responsibility I + II
The module "CSR" is divided into two parts: CSR I highlights the economic and global perspective of Corporate Social Responsibility aspects (the role of CSR in the Third World and in industrialized countries, the importance of the International Labor Organization (ILO), whereas CSR II covers the local and regional as well as the managerial CSR issues (community activities as a supporting function for public goods). At the end of both seminars, students should be able to independently apply the CSR approach to small and medium-sized (including family-run) companies as well as to multinational corporations, and to adapt a CSR strategy to a specific company with its own history, market, and sustainability approach.
To understand the CSR approach in its origins, course participants will learn about the history of CSR and the values associated with it, as well as the growing national and international importance of CSR for its key stakeholders. Practical experiences with the implementation and evaluation of CSR measures will be discussed and the key elements of CSR (trust, criticism, and anti-corruption measures) as well as the factor "CSR as a driver for financial sustainability" will be addressed. The International Organization for Standardization's (ISO) Guide to Social Responsibility (ISO 26000) was developed based on a multi-stakeholder approach and will be discussed in detail in the CSR II seminar, explaining how NGOs act as critical observers and watchdogs on CSR activities and strategies of private sector corporations.
Business Simulation & Business Plan Development
Business Simulation: This interdisciplinary and internationally oriented course of study requires analytical skills and (problem) solving competence. In order to create a business model for a social enterprise, students learn how to develop a business plan by creating a virtual company. In this seminar, students learn the qualitative and quantified description, analysis, planning, testing, and optimization of processes in a practice-oriented manner. Using process modeling software tools, students will be able to make transparent any type of process in their field of activity. Students learn to link the knowledge acquired in the previous seminars with integral financial ratios, such as the income statement, balance sheet, and capital and liquidity requirements statement, in order to develop their business plan and formulate a viable business idea. Students develop the ability to demonstrate the relationships between their strategic and operational management decisions and their consequences and how they are presented in the financial section of a business plan.
Business Plan Development: In the seminars for the General Management 4 module (1st-semester module), students learned about risks and returns, finance, investment, and creating business value. This course offers the opportunity to put all this learned knowledge into practice. Students are given the task of working independently in groups to write their own business plans for a social enterprise. The combination of investment policy and social responsibility is key to this group exercise. Participants evaluate current trends and activities in the national and international NGO context and learn the basics of building a business.
2/3. Semester: External Environment
The module "External Environment" is divided into two sub-modules:
- Politics and Ethics
This module consists of the seminars "Global and Business Ethics" and "International Politics".
This module consists of the seminars "International Economics" and "Sustainability Economics".
1. External Environment: Politics and Ethics
This seminar discusses fundamental ethical issues within and outside organizations. They deal with current religious, cultural, and political influences on global trends and fields of work. The module is thematically divided into two sections: "International Politics" and "Global and Business Ethics" and concludes with a written, two-hour examination.
Credit points: 6 ECTS
Workload: about 180 teaching hours
International Politics: This seminar provides an introduction to international politics and global challenges, as well as to areas such as peace and war, human security, global governance, international regimes, sustainable human development, foreign aid, climate change, democracy and human rights. Case studies of specific countries (for example, Germany looking at German foreign policy, including development cooperation) and supranational bodies (for example, the EU) are used to explain international relations and related theories and humanitarian interventions.
Students will elaborate on processes and structures of international cooperation and political integration worldwide as well as approaches to advocacy networking. Theories of development, conflict, and international relations are used to discuss positive and negative factors for development, approaches to peace studies, humanitarian intervention, global governance and power shifts in world politics, the role of the United Nations, regionalism and political integration processes and/or groupings (for example, EU, SADC, MERCOSUR, ASEAN... G7/8, G20), and interactions among states in the era of globalization.
Global & Business Ethics: core topics such as values and ethics, the nature and goals of business ethics, and law find their thematic focus in this sub-module. This seminar provides the fundamentals of ethical thinking and addresses the variety of perspectives on ethical dilemmas in personal and professional contexts. Based on a critical analysis of various business situations between management, law, economics, and public policy from a multidisciplinary and philosophical perspective, students learn to critically evaluate the various perspectives in business ethics from a personal ethical viewpoint. The interrelationship of ethical theory and business or CSR initiatives (for example, ethical relativism and reasoning in ethics, psychological egoism, utilitarian ethics, deontological ethics, virtue ethics) and international business and globalization (for example, ethical relativism, cross-cultural values, and international rights, Global Compact) will be closely examined in this seminar. Furthermore, stakeholder theory as well as ethical perspectives, the topic area around employer and employee ethics (for example moral laws and rights in the workplace, diversity approach, equal opportunities, and affirmative action), as well as marketing and sales ethics and environmental responsibility in business (for example sustainability, CSR), will be addressed in more detail in the seminar.
2. External Environment: Economics
Both seminars teach the basics of international economics and sustainability economics with their global impacts and interdependencies and with their economic, social, and ecological consequences. The module concludes with an examination in the form of a summative seminar paper.
Credit points: 6 ECTS
Workload: about 180 teaching hours
International Economics: Students learn about international economic relations in the world economy and use theoretical approaches to analyze the complexity of the global environment and forms of regional integration. They become familiar with data, statistics, actors (international institutions), and global economic policy challenges; elaborate specifics of industrialized, emerging, and developing countries; and reasons for and outcomes of regional as well as global crises. In addition to international trade theories (mercantilism, absolute cost advantage according to Adam Smith, principle of comparative cost advantage according to David Ricardo, theory of factor endowments, product cycle theory, imperfect competition, and so on) and knowledge of international trade policy (world trade and trade liberalization, structures and stages of regional integration, basic theory of regional integration, global integration projects), international monetary economics (macroeconomic relations between countries) and monetary systems are further dealt with in detail.
Sustainability Economics: students will be prepared and enabled to understand future issues and societal global challenges and their impact on businesses, consumers, civil society (NGOs), governments, countries, and their interrelationships, thus learning about the different dimensions of sustainable development. At the microeconomic level, the economic analysis focuses on environmental issues. At the macroeconomic level, it focuses on a larger economic system with measures of sustainable growth, including social, economic, and environmental measures. Students learn about different sustainable management systems, such as biodiversity, water, energy, mobility, and so on (including institutions, and policies). Developing, emerging and newly industrialized countries as well as the valuation of natural resources are considered.
2/3. Semester: Group and Individual Coaching
The Group and Individual Coaching module is designed as a personal counseling process focused on finding a master's thesis topic that fits both the content of the MBA program and the student's academic and practical interests. Academic coaches with relevant expertise will help students achieve their own academic and personal goals in this MBA program. The coaching module covers two areas:
- Group coaching in Master´s Thesis Writing
The module includes intensive counseling sessions and the course “How to write a master’s thesis”. This course aims at making students familiar with the research process and the various steps involved. This course is essential for preparing students for their research
- Individual coaching in Master´s Thesis and Career matters
During the personal coaching process, students will be able to identify and understand what kind of work is suitable for them, and learn to concretize their main strengths and weaknesses, as well as their short- and long-term career goals according to the PDP (Personal Development Planning) approach.
This module focuses on finishing the master’s thesis and aims at:
- Building academic writing skills
- Identifying individual interpersonal skills and personal attributes, as well as major strengths & areas for development
- Taking into account educational achievements & qualifications, work experience, and extra-curricular and leisure activities
- Analyzing labor market competition and career consequences and giving tailored advice
3. Semester: Electives
Students are free to choose their courses but must accumulate at least a total of 6 ECTS in order to successfully complete this module. Participation in the chosen seminars is compulsory and active participation in the lecture determines whether the student passes or fails the module.
Credit points: 6 ECTS
Workload: about 180 teaching hours
All courses offered will be announced before the semester and aim at sharpening the profile of the students once again towards the end of the study and to equip them individually with the necessary knowledge for their future work in NGO management or CSR. The list of courses could include (among others):
- Specialized management skills, such as monitoring and evaluation.
- Soft skills development, such as proposal writing, communication, and negotiation skills
- Interdisciplinary knowledge of human rights, international law, and CSR reporting standards
Regular Electives course offerings since 2015*
The following courses have already been offered as part of the MBA program in recent years:
- Impact Evaluation
- CSR, Human Rights, and International Law
- Intercultural Communication
- Diversity Management
- Social Media Marketing
- Security Risk Management for NGOs
- Partnerships for the Goals (SDG 17)
- Strategic Altruism
- CSR and Stakeholder Dialogue
- Business Plans and Pitching Sessions for Young Entrepreneurs
- Online & Digital Marketing Communication for NGOs
* The electives are expanded annually to include additional topics and regularly take into account the topic preferences of the current student group (via an advance survey). The group survey as well as the orientation towards the currently demanded professional and key competencies on the job market enable an additional, individual profile sharpening.
3. Semester: Master Thesis
The final thesis is a scientific paper dealing with a current problem in CSR or NGO management and should show that the students have applied the methods and theories learned in the MBA program.
Students should apply their knowledge, methods, and working techniques to responsible management behavior in as practical a manner as possible. The thesis paper should be based on a real project in an NGO organization or CSR department and include a critical reflection on the theory and approaches used.