Centre for Sustainability and Energy

The SUSTAIN Project

The SUSTAIN Project has received funding from DiKu NORPART. SUSTAIN is a cooperation between BI, Jimma University in Ethiopia and Mzumbe University in Tanzania. The cooperation will continue in the period 2019-2023.

What is SUSTAIN?

BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo, the School of Business at Mzumbe University (MU) in Tanzania, and the Business and Economics College of Jimma University (JU) in Ethiopia have created a partnership called SUSTAIN. Through the partnership, the schools strive to improve the quality of education and research in the fields of supply chain management (SCM) and sustainable business development. These efforts will enable all three schools to work toward achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which call for the world’s institutions to work together to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

Funded by the DiKu NORPART program, SUSTAIN promotes international understanding, intercultural competence and builds international networks for academics and students through student and faculty mobility. By the end of the project in 2023, SUSTAIN will have created an opportunity for more than 100 students to go on long- or short-term exchange. Caroline Ditlev-Simonsen, professor in sustainability and corporate responsibility, is responsible for the collaboration with Mzumbe, while Marianne Jahre, professor in supply chain management, is responsible for the partnership with Jimma.

BIs partners are important institutions in their countries. At Mzumbe, about 1,700 of the 10,000 students are in business; the school is known for its capacity in management, governance, and health management, but it needs development in the areas of entrepreneurship and supply chain management. In comparison, Jimma is Ethiopia’s largest public university, known for its strength in health education. Of its 50,000 students, 6,250 are in business. In addition to exchange, SUSTAIN reviews existing and develops new teaching programs and courses at the three schools, organises conferences and seminars involving key stakeholders.


Starting fall 2019, the semester was a success for the first round of exchange students from Mzumbe with Mary and Zuberi staying at BI for five months. An exchange semester is much more than courses and provides an opportunity for all involved to grasp the different cultures, communications skills and experiences. Mary states that "The exchange programme at BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo has been an incredible life changing experience for me. It has created confidence, independence and self-discovery. I have noticed myself really growing from my comfort zone and become more open to new and bigger things. I now have connections all over the world from the team of my friends who can proudly say were the finest and anyone could ever want. It is most safe to say the exchange was most a success and this very huge thank you drop to the whole Sustain Project team.”



Having to jump from Tanzania to Norway, there are many differences. Luckily, for SUSTAIN students an exchange does not just end in classrooms like a regular day, they also get the chance to attend meetings and discussions that are valuable in gaining an insight for communication and development. In October, Caroline Ditlev had the privilege to host the 2019 International Conference of Business in Emerging Markets (ICBMEM) at BI together with SUSTAIN project member, Dr. Emmanuel Chao from Mzumbe. It is an annual international forum in discussing the management and research opportunities in emerging markets. This arena provided a platform for the students to discuss and interact with researchers and scholars on the strategies that
can be implemented to improve businesses and education in Emerging Markets.




Now in 2020, we were proud to welcome six Students from Jimma University, here at Gardermoen airport, who arrived safely and have just started their courses.


Control Systems for Sustainability: Exploring the patterns in Norwegian firms

Sustainability is becoming of high importance for companies. Businesses increasingly commit to sustainability initiatives and report on sustainability performances. They also start to develop and embed sustainability strategies into their operation activities, reshaping their business models, value and supply chains based on new principles like circular economy. Confidence in sustainability reporting and implementation of sustainability strategies are defined as a research area for the current study. Although the identified issues can be analysed from different angles, the current study utilises the concepts of internal and management controls, the practices of which are closely related.

Evgeniia Kochubei and Sherina Rendini delivered a master thesis that was based on Malmi and Brown's management control framework (2008) and COSO Internal Control-Integrated Framework (2013). The thesis, first, examines what control mechanisms Norwegian companies are using to achieve sustainability goals, and then explores the extent to which packages of formal and informal control mechanisms are developed in the observed companies, further theorizing the sustainability control patterns. The study uses a mixed research design with the data collection methods of the online survey and semi-structured interviews. The results of the study show that all control mechanisms were deployed in the researched companies, with cultural control and planning control being the most widely used types of control, and rewards and compensation being the rarest applied control system. 

The study identifies five distinct control systems packages and concludes that both formal and informal controls are likely to be necessary in order to achieve sustainability goals. In addition, the study theorizes the path towards developing a complete control package, discussing obstacles to moving from one package to another and, where possible, how to overcome them. The insights and recommendations provided in this paper are likely to support organizations in their effort to translate aspirations into practices. Finally, the study proposes opportunities for future research.

Relevant links