Hasso-Plattner-Institut25 Jahre HPI
Hasso-Plattner-Institut25 Jahre HPI

Sustainability - Policy and Business Strategy. The case of CO2 Pricing (Sommersemester 2020)

Dozent: Prof. Dr. Katharina Hölzle (IT-Entrepreneurship)

Allgemeine Information

  • Semesterwochenstunden: 2
  • ECTS: 6
  • Benotet: Ja
  • Einschreibefrist: 6.4.-22.4.2020
  • Lehrform: Seminar
  • Belegungsart: Wahlpflichtmodul
  • Lehrsprache: Englisch
  • Maximale Teilnehmerzahl: 20

Studiengänge, Modulgruppen & Module

IT-Systems Engineering MA
  • Professional Skills
    • HPI-PSK-ML Management und Leitung
  • Professional Skills
    • HPI-PSK-RW Recht und Wirtschaft


Predicting Policy Decisions for Sustainability and their Influence on Business Strategy. The case of CO2 pricing.

This course combines predicting public decision-making on sustainability issues – the focus being CO2 pricing – with the consequences for the business strategy of companies – specifically a German steel manufacturing “Mittelstand” company called Reuther STC. This course will admit a maximum of 20 master students from public policy and administration, political science, business administration, economics and software systems engineering. The course has two parts:

Part 1: You will be introduced to a rational choice-based simulation software called “Predictioneer’s Game”, developed by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, before making a prediction about the future of CO2 prices in Germany. You identify an important actor (from policy, public administration, government, business) and their relevance, their position in the ongoing negotiations on CO2 pricing and their influence, flexibility and salience regarding their position. Then, working in interdisciplinary groups of 3 you will simulate the negotiations and analyze the results to predict what the negotiation outcome will be.

Part 2: You will use the results from part 1 and apply them to Reuther STC to derive practical recommendations for their future business strategy. To do this, you will think about companies’ perspectives on sustainability – why should companies be sustainable, how can sustainability be reflected in business strategy? – before learning about strategic management tools such as internal and external strategic analyses (SWOT analysis, gap analysis) and stakeholder analyses. You will then take Reuther STC’s perspective and conduct the necessary analyses to understand how the firm is currently positioned. Using the predictions, you will build different strategic scenarios for the firm and derive recommendations for the firm about how to best implement these scenarios. 

In the final presentation on June 23rd, these recommendations will be presented to the partner firm. 

The course is taught by Prof. Katharina Hölzle (HPI) and Prof. Detlef Sprinz (PIK) and the course will be taught digitally.


Interest in sustainability, public policy, and business strategy. Interest in inter-disciplinary working. 


Will be provided over the course of the lecture. 

Lern- und Lehrformen

Virtual class with individual and group assigments (also presented virtually, see detailed planning). 





% of final score (6 ECTS)

Part 1

Individual actor paper



Individual actor paper presentation



Group simulation paper



Group simulation paper presentation





Part 2

Final group presentation





Learning goals students

Homework (in advance of the class meetings)

Activities in Class

23 April 2020,

Introduction and overview of the seminar

Understand the aim and topic of the course

  • Read detailed syllabus + admission policy
  • Students: Prepare questions related to course
  • Instructors answer all questions, incl. admission + exam policy + group work
  • References to examples of predictions made (Sprinz and BdM (2015)

30 April 2020,

Introduction to Reuther STC GmbH 

Understand the company’s perspective and the challenge of being sustainable

  • Readings steel sector 
  • Investigate company
  • Prepare questions
  • Familiarize with Moodle 2

Mr. Klingelstein to dial in, present the company + Q&A

30 April 2020,

The Predictioneer’s Game (PG): Logic & Overview

Basic understanding of overall functions and functioning of PG & Architecture

  • Watch a set of videos from BdM
  • Readings: 
  • BdM 2009, ch. 3 (29-46)
  • Bueno de Mesquita (2010) (34 pages)
  • Sprinz et al. (2016) (16 pages)
  • Check if general introduction of audio, videos and readings were understood + see first unclear points
  • Show input & output files

7 May 2020,

PG: Input Data

Detailed understanding of the input data (conceptual) (actor, potential influence, position, salience, flexibility, veto)

  • Watch a set of videos from BdM
  • Bueno de Mesquita (2011) (23 pages)
  • Bueno de Mesquita (2009), ch. 4 (47-65)
  • In-class exercise on position (all) and other scales (divided in groups): The Corona policy challenge
  • Test for understanding of inputs as well as overall architecture

7 May 2020,

PG: Output Data

Detailed understanding of the output files ( conceptual)

  • Read centrally provided outputfiles for Module 5 (but no input file supplied)
  • Use example from Sprinz & BdM (2015)
  • Questions in class concerning output file/ group work
  • Answer open questions
  • Test for understanding of outputs
  • Explain veto in detail (example)

14 May 2020,

Prediction: Carbon Pricing  

Presentation of the particular issue to be predicted

Readings and other background material on the issue

Presentation via Zoom, ideally by expert

14 May 2020,

PG: Running the Software

  • Interpreting outputs 
  • Learn to determine whether veto is exercised or not
  • Submit PG input file to Moodle 2 
  • BdM 2009, 11 (only 215-226)

Practice session: Run the PG

  • Use input files from module 4 on corona virus
  • Students will be split into groups (of 3) and are assigned a timeslot working with DS & MA 

15 May 2020,

(additional meeting)

Prediction: Developing the Scales


Student submit first ideas on the position/influence scale to Moodle

Read BdM (2009), Ch. 5 (66-85)

Development of the position/influence scale;
discussion of the approach for all other input scales

28 May,

Introduction to Sustainability Strategies for companies; Introduction to Stakeholder Map; 

What is sustainability?

Why should a company act sustainably?

How do you measure sustainability?

Creation of Stakeholder Map

  • Readings on Sustainability
  • Stakeholder Map



4 June 2020,

Presentation: Individual Actor Papers


Submission of Actor Papers and Presentation until June, 1st

Discussion: Individual Actor Papers

4 June 2020,

Strategic Analysis & Scenario building 

o Creation of SWOT

o Benchmark analysis

o Gap Analysis

o Scenario Analysis

  • Upload SWOT Analysis for Reuther STC
  • Read Article on Business Strategy 
  • HBR Strategy Case Study



11 June 2020,

Presentation: Group Prediction Papers 


Submission of Prediction Papers and Presentation files

Presentation/ Discussion: Group Prediction Papers

11 June 2020,

Business Strategy & Strategy Implementation

o Drafting an implementation plan for Reuther STC & Deriving To-Do List



18 June 2020,
9:00-10:00h (or individually)

Coaching of teams on their analysis & implementation plan

23 June 2020,


Final presentations and barbecue.