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University of Toronto

The 360º Corporation: Tools for Achieving Corporate Purpose

University of Toronto via Coursera


If you’ve heard the terms stakeholder capitalism, or sustainability, or ESG, corporate social responsibility, CSR, conscious capitalism, sustainable development goals, shared value, corporate citizenship, or purpose-driven company but don’t know exactly what they mean—or don’t know how to make these ideas come to life—then this course is for you.

Every business model and every operating decision has stakeholder trade-offs embedded in it. Profits to the bottom line are not always compatible with the interests of the stakeholders that surround the corporation.

Based on Professor Sarah Kaplan’s award-winning course at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and her book "The 360º Corporation: From Stakeholder Trade-offs to Transformation," this course is designed to help you analyze these trade-offs (Mode 1) and learn how to address them either by rethinking them (Mode 2), innovating around them (Mode 3), or thriving within them (Mode 4). The 360° Corporation is an organization that can productively and effectively manage trade-offs.

By taking this course, you will be joining a community of executives around the world who are looking to transform their organizations to meet the needs of the 21st century. The COVID-19 pandemic has gotten us all to rethink our careers and focus on how to make our work as meaningful and rewarding as possible. This course will aid you on that journey by helping you connect social responsibility to your own decisions. And, it will help you reexamine the role of business in society.

This is not just a course for people with “social responsibility” in their job title. While it will be useful for anyone whose role is to spread sustainability, gender and racial equity, social responsibility and other stakeholder strategies throughout their organizations, the course is equally important for every executive and line manager because everything you do matters for the social and environmental impact of your products, services and organizations. We’ll also discuss the impact on corporate governance and the roles of corporate directors and institutional investors in leading change.

This course offers signposts to leaders who want to spearhead the 360° Revolution. With detailed case studies, useful frameworks and handy action steps, the course will show you that companies can develop explicit and coherent plans for addressing the tensions created by stakeholder trade-offs and pursue corporate purpose. Enroll today to become a 360º Leader!

[This course was developed with support from the University of Toronto and from the Michael Lee-Chin Family Institute for Corporate Citizenship at the Rotman School of Management.]


  • Introduction to The 360º Corporation
    • This week, you’ll learn about what stakeholder capitalism is and why the shift from shareholder capitalism is taking place. You’ll explore the different terms—CSR, ESG, corporate purpose, sustainability, social impact, etc.—and understand how they relate to each other in considering the role of business in society. You’ll develop an understanding about why action is urgent and why traditional excuses for slow action may no longer be supportable. You will also see why achieving social responsibility and purpose is challenging. Finally, you’ll get introduced to the 4 modes of action of the 360º Corporation and see how they can be practical solutions to the social and environmental challenges facing companies today.
  • Stakeholder Trade-offs (Mode 1) and Shared Value (Mode 2)
    • This week, you’ll learn about stakeholder trade-offs—what they are and how you can identify them. You will develop analytical tools for seeing how every business model has trade-offs embedded in it. Understanding trade-offs is the starting point for making progress, and we call this Mode 1 action. Without knowing what the trade-offs are, it is hard to make progress. Next, you’ll learn about the most popular way of addressing trade-offs which is in creating “shared value” or win-wins (Mode 2 action). By creating a business case for action, you can rethink trade-offs to find solutions that are both good for the bottom line and good for society. You’ll see how the concept of shared value can be inspirational for leaders, but also how it may stymie more innovative solutions. You will see how the business case can sometimes backfire or allow for only incremental progress.
  • Innovating Around Trade-offs (Mode 3) and Thriving Within Trade-offs (Mode 4)
    • This week, we’ll explore how innovation and experimentation can address tougher trade-offs. The way to move beyond the business case is to think about stakeholder trade-offs as opportunities and inspirations for innovative solutions (Mode 3 action). You’ll explore case examples of how companies are creating transformational innovation to solve pressing challenges. You’ll also learn about how experimentation may be a way forward when solutions aren’t immediately obvious (Mode 4 action). Finally, you’ll discover 4 kinds of mistakes that companies make when trying to pursue CSR.
  • Leading the 360º Revolution: the governance and leadership agenda
    • This week, we’ll turn your focus to the role of corporate governance and leadership in creating a 360º Revolution. You’ll learn about emerging trends in investor stewardship that are creating new pressures on boards of directors and CEOs. You will also explore guidelines for reforming corporate governance to match the challenges of the 21st century. Then, you’ll turn to an exploration of your own role as a leader. This course is based in the idea that you can lead from any chair, from front-line worker or supervisor to the CEO and board of directors. You will focus on the courage you will need to lead, and you will develop a “to do” list of actions you can take.

Taught by

Sarah Kaplan

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