Course 2018-2019 a.y.


Department of Management and Technology

Course taught in English
Go to class group/s: 31
DES-ESS (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  12 credits SECS-P/06)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (II sem.)

Class-group lessons delivered  on campus


No formal prequisites.

Mission & Content Summary


The large-scale debate on the relationship between economic growth and the environment calls for a deep understanding of the innovation process towards sustainable development. The process of growth and environmentally conscious development is a policy priority worldwide, but the evidence highlights the presence of technological, economic, social and institutional barriers encountered by any change on the scale of the new greening trajectory.The course discusses the issues of innovation, growth and sustainability at the global level. It examines the most important determinants of economic growth and adopts an institutional perspective to analyse the relationship between innovation, competition and growth at the country and regional level in both developed and emerging economies. Specifically, it illustrates the interaction of national resources with economic growth at the national and global level, with particular attention on the impact of sustainability on country level competitiveness, as well as on the key dimensions of eco-innovation.


The course covers a set of topics related to the interaction between economic growth and sustainable development, providing both theoretical foundations and empirical evidence. It is structured around five main issues:

  1. Measuring growth and (sustainable) development.
  2. Perspectives on growth theory – focus on innovation, institutions and industrial policies.
  3. Natural resources, growth and development.
  4. Greening capitalism across different socio-economic contexts.
  5. Eco-innovations and sustainability.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Define the concepts of economic growth, structural change and sustainable development.
  • Illustrate the most relevant approaches to economic growth.
  • Recognize the determinants of economic growth, with a specific focus on technology, institutions adn natural resources.
  • Identify the role of industrial policies in the process of growth and sustainable development.
  • Explain the relationship between economic growth and environmental performance.
  • Describe the concept of eco-innovations and their determinants, with a particular emphasis on the role of regulation.


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Measure economic growth and sustainable development.
  • Assess the importance of different variables - human capital, investments, natural resources, technology - to the process of growth and development.
  • Apply the existing approaches to sustainable development to analyse the greening of capitalism in different contexts.
  • Evaluate the degree of disruption of green products, process and organisational innovations.
  • Develop an argument on a topic related to the process of sustainable development and sustain the debate in front of an audience.
  • Show teamwork abilities, as well as presentation and communication skills.

Teaching methods

  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Case studies /Incidents (traditional, online)
  • Group assignments
  • Interactive class activities (role playing, business game, simulation, online forum, instant polls)


The learning experience of this course includes a variegated set of tools, besides traditional lectures.

  1. First, the students are confronted with a series of incidents concerning the relationship between innovation, economic growth and sustainable development. They are asked to assess the level of economic and green development of different countries and to discuss short readings related to the role of innovation and institutions for growth and sustainable development.
  2. Second, the students actively participate in a series of debates on four relevant topics - growth vs. development, role of industrial policies for development, curse of natural resources, greening of capitalism. In each debate session, two groups of three people debate on a specific topic (the instructors provide details and readings on this). Each debate include the two groups' presentations and then a coordinated discussion between the groups and between the groups and the audience.
  3. Third, students have to prepare a final group project, providing a detailed investigation of the process of sustainable development in a specific country. In particular, students have to examine the process of growth and environmentally conscious development, emphasizing the barriers and difficulties encountered by any change on the scale of the new greening trajectory. Both the debates and the final project presentations are used for student assessments and as a basis for class discussion. Students are strongly stimulated to share their perspectives on the different topics, as well as to provide insights and suggestions to other students' views.

Assessment methods

  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  • Group assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
x x  
  • Active class participation (virtual, attendance)


For attending students (those attending 75% of classes based on registered attendance), the assessment method includes three components:

  1. Debate performance (20%). In each debate session, two groups of max 3 people debate on a specific topic. The instructors provide details and readings on this. Each debate includes 60 minutes presentation (30 for each group) + 30 minutes debate. See below for details.
  2. Group project (50%). Groups of max 3 people present and discuss a topic defined with the instructor. The group projects are presented during the last 2 sessions. In addition to the presentation, the groups have to hand in a 10 pages report by the date of the first exam in June. See below for details.
  3. Final individual exam (30%). Written exam (2 open questions out of 4) based on course readings and lecture notes. See the course outline for details.


For not attending students, the assessment is based entirely on a final written exam of four open-end questions that intend to evaluate the students' learning of the most important theoretical approaches to innovation, growth and sustainability, as well as the capability of analysing the empirical evidence and policy implications related to those issues.

Teaching materials


The teaching material includes both lecture notes and the following readings:

  • D. ACEMOGLU, Introduction to Modern Economic Growth,  Princeton University Press (chapter 1 (available at
  • R. SOLOW, Perspective on Growth Theory, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 1994, 8(1), 45-54.
  • P.M. ROMERM, The Origins of Endogenous Growth, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 1994, 8(1), 3-22.
  • J. FAGERBERG, Technology and International Differences in Growth Rates, Journal of Economic Literature, 1994, 32(3), pp.1147-1175.
  • B. VERSPAGEN, Innovation and Economic Growth, in J. FAGERBERG, D.C. MOWERY, R.R. NELSON, (Eds), The Oxford Handbook Of Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.
  • H.J. BRUTON, A reconsideration of import substitution, Journal of Economic Literature, 1998,  36(2): 903-936.
  • H.J. CHANG, Kicking away the ladder: Infant industry promotion in historical perspective. Oxford Development Studies, 2003, 31(1), 21-32.
  • M. DI MAIO, Industrial Policies in Developing Countries: History and Perspectives, in M. CIMOLI, G. DOSI, J. STIGLITZ, Industrial policy and development: The political economy of capabilities accumulation. Oxford University Press, 2009.
  • D. RODRIK, Industrial policy for the twenty-first century, 2004.
  • R.U. AURES, Sustainability Economics: Where Do We Stand?, Ecological Economics, 2008,  67, 281-310.
  • J.D. SANCHS, A. WARNER, The course of natural resources, European Economic Review, 2001, 45, 827-838.
  • C. PEREZ, L. SOETE, Catching up in technology: entry barriers and windows of opportunity,  1988, in G.DOSI, et al. (eds.), Technical Change and Economic Theory, London: Francis Pinter, pp. 458-479.
  • L. KEUN, F. MALERBA, Catch-up cycles and changes in industrial leadership: Windows of opportunity and responses of firms and countries in the evolution of sectoral systems, Research Policy,
  • A. MORRISON, R. RABELLOTTI, Gradual catch up and enduring leadership in the global wine industry, Research Policy,
  • C. PEREZ, A. MARIN, NAVAS-ALEMAN, Natural Resource Industries as a Platform for the Development of Knowledge Intensive Industries. Tijdschrift Voor Economische en Sociale Geografie. Vol 106, Issue 2, p. 154-168, 2015.
  • C. PEREZ, Technological revolutions and techno-economic paradigms. Camb J Econ 2009; 34 (1): 185-202. doi: 10.1093/cje/bep051.
  • J.A. MATHEWS, The renewable energies technology surge: A new techno-economic paradigm in the making?, Futures, Volume 46, February 2013, Pages 10-22,
  • M. MAZZUCATO, The Green Entrepreneurial State. SPRU, University of Sussex WP.
  • U. DEWALD, B. TRUFFER, European Planning Studies. 2012, Vol. 20 Issue 3, p397-420. DOI: 10.1080/09654313.2012.651803 .  
  • P. KARNOE, R. GARUD, Path Creation: Co-creation of Heterogeneous Resources in the Emergence of the Danish Wind Turbine Cluster. European Planning Studies  Vol. 20, Iss. 5, 2012.
  • K. RENNINGS, Redefining innovation – eco-innovation research and the contribution from ecological economics, Ecological Economics, 2000, 32, 319-332.
  • S. AMBEC, M.A. COHEN, S. ELGIE, P. LANOIE, The Porter Hypothesis at 20: Can Environmental Regulation Enhance Innovation and Competitiveness? Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, 2013, 7(1), 2-22.


The teaching material includes the course readings (see attending students), lecture notes and a set of additional readings that are defined by the instructors and posted on the Bboard platform at the beginning of the course.

Last change 27/06/2018 09:59