Beyond the curriculum: Integrating sustainability into business schools

M. Painter-Morland, E. Sabet, P. Molthan-Hill, H. Goworek, S.L.J.M. de Leeuw

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper evaluates the ways in which European business schools are implementing sustainability and ethics into their curricula. Drawing on data gathered by a recent large study that the Academy of Business in Society conducted in cooperation with EFMD conducted, we map the approaches that schools are currently employing by drawing on and expanding Rusinko’s (Acad Manag Learn Educ 9(3):507–519 2010) and Godemann et al.’s (2011) matrice of integrating sustainability in business and management schools. We show that most schools adopt one or more of the four approaches outlined by Godemann et al. (2011). However, we also argue that a fifth dimension needs to be added as the existing matrices do not capture the systemic nature of such curricular initiatives and how these are influenced by internal factors within the business school and external factors beyond. We suggest calling this fifth dimension ‘Systemic Institutional Integration’ and demonstrate that any business school which aims to integrate sustainability further into the curricula cannot succeed without the following: (1) Systemic thinking and systemic leadership, (2) Connectedness to business, the natural environment and society and (3) Institutional capacity building. Utilising further literature and the answers provided by the deans and faculty, we discuss each factor in turn and suggest paths towards the successful systemic institutional integration of sustainability and ethics into management education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)737-754
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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