Runner-Up in oikos Global Case Writing Competition (Corporate Sustainability track) , organized by oikos International, Switzerland

'Embedding Sustainability at Novo Nordisk: The Compassion Vs Competitiveness Dilemma

'Embedding Sustainability at Novo Nordisk: The Compassion Vs Competitiveness Dilemma
Case Code: BECG129
Case Length: 20 Pages
Period: 2005- 2012
Pub Date: 2013
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.500
Organization: Novo Nordisk
Industry: Pharmaceuticals
Countries: Europe; Global
Themes: Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability, Global Competitiveness
'Embedding Sustainability at Novo Nordisk: The Compassion Vs Competitiveness Dilemma
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


This case is about Novo Nordisk, one of the leading global healthcare companies. The case focuses on the various steps it took to evolve as a company with sustainable development as its key focus. Over the years, it introduced several sustainability related initiatives like the Novo Nordisk Way of Management and the Triple Bottom Line philosophy.

A new sustainability strategy was developed for Novo Nordisk in the year 2000 which put global health at the center of its sustainability initiatives. These initiatives led to the integration of sustainable development with the company’s business strategy. Novo Nordisk started selling some of its insulin products at a subsidized price in some of the poorest countries in the world.


The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  • Understand the main issues related to corporate social responsibility and sustainability and the various challenges faced by organizations regarding the impact of their operations on the society and environment.
  • Appreciate the importance of integrating sustainable development practices of a firm with its business strategy.
  • Understand one of the key leadership challenges posed to organizations operating in emerging markets - corruption.
  • Understand a key contemporary issue facing healthcare companies – the compassion vs competitiveness dilemma.
  • Explore ways in which Novo Nordisk can strike the right balance between its business and global health.



healthcare companies,Novo Nordisk,Novozymes,Triple Bottom Line philosophy,Greek Price Cut Controversy,Novo Nordisk Learning Curve,CO2 Emissions,Dow Jones Sustainability Indices,Corporate Social Responsibility; Sustainable development; Corporate Sustainability; Integrating sustainable development to business strategy; Striking the right balance between business and global health; Striking the right balance between compassion and competitiveness; Managing stakeholders; Business Ethics; Triple bottomline; Shared value; ‘Novo Nordisk Way of Management’ (NNWM); Balance scorecard; Stakeholders map

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