Shaping Policy in Responsible and Sustainable Business Education

Submitting Institution

University of Nottingham

Unit of Assessment

Business and Management Studies

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Education: Curriculum and Pedagogy, Specialist Studies In Education
Studies In Human Society: Sociology

Download original


Summary of the impact

The body of research on responsible and sustainable business education has shaped the policies of key institutions working in the area of responsible business education, notably the Academy of Business in Society (ABIS) and the UN Principles for Responsible Management Education (UN PRME). It has also contributed to the guidance that UK higher education bodies give to Business Schools through the Higher Education Academy. ICCSR's research has also made available guidance and examples of best practice to these policy institutions through which business schools have been able to access evidence-based resources in their endeavour to develop effective practice.

Underpinning research

Cases of business irresponsibility (Enron, banking crisis etc) raised questions about whether business schools were preparing students for responsible/sustainable business. Knowledge about European business schools was particularly scant compared with their US counterparts.

Thus, a collaborative research project investigated corporate social responsibility (CSR) in European business schools in 2003. The survey was designed by the International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ICCSR) within NUBS, in partnership with key stakeholders, the Academy of Business in Society (ABIS), the European Foundation for Management Development and the UN Global Compact.

The resultant research paper revealed how some business schools introduce students to responsible and sustainable business across all programmes, including through `mainstreaming' (1). The most frequently cited `driver' of CSR education was `individual faculty members' followed by `School leadership'. This suggested that initiatives were contingent on motivated faculty members, not on School policies and strategies. Respondents indicated that the future success of responsible/sustainable business education depended upon greater institutional support (e.g. through business approval and support, the inclusion of responsible/sustainable business education in accreditation requirements and in indexes of business schools).

A second survey (2008) found: a growth of attention to CSR in European business schools; broad comparability with North American patterns; leadership of responsible and sustainable business education by prestigious schools, conventionally understood (2).

Survey findings raised questions about `how' this could be best taught. In 2009 the ICCSR and the University of Nottingham School of Education designed a project within a research cluster part- funded by ABIS. This provided an underpinning review of educational pedagogies and an innovative case in the form of the Paradise Island role play exercise. The findings concerning the value of experiential learning were posted on the ABIS website, and informed a publication in a professional ethics journal (3).

In 2010 the ICCSR turned to the `mainstreaming' question and led an HEFCE funded project on how international and UK business schools integrate sustainability into their curricula. This was in collaboration with the University of Bath Centre for Business, Organizations and Society and supported by: UN PRME, UNESCO Chair `Higher Education for Sustainable Development', ABIS, Aspen Institute, and the Association of Business Schools. This informed two research tasks yielding publications:

  • Analysis of the first 100 Sharing Information on Progress reports that signatory members submit to UN PRME (4). This found that although most UN PRME signatory business schools bring sustainability to teaching, only a few: try to embed sustainability issues across the curriculum; develop frameworks and strategies for this; and have identified means to facilitate integration and associated organisational change.
  • An overview of the UN PRME purpose, progress and prospects in collaboration with the Head of UN PRME Secretariat, Jonas Haerlte (5). This found progress but a conspicuous absence of clear educational frameworks for sustainability and of sustainability research strategies.

Key Researchers:

  • Professor Jeremy Moon, Professor of CSR, Director of the ICCSR 2002 - present
  • Dr Dirk Matten, Senior Research Fellow, ICCSR 2002 - 2004 (now Professor, Schulich School of Business, York University)
  • Dr Marc Orlitzky, Senior Research Fellow, ICCSR 2007 - 2008 (now Professor, University of South Australia School of Business)
  • Dr Christian Herzig Senior Research Fellow, ICCSR 2009 - 2010, Lecturer 2010 - 2013 (now Professor, Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University)
  • Dr Jasmin Godemann, Senior Research Fellow ICCSR 2010 - 2011 (now at Leuphana University)

References to the research

1. Matten, D and Moon, J (2004) `Corporate Social Responsibility Education in Europe' Journal of Business Ethics 54 323 - 337 (ABS 3*; FT Journals used in Research Rank; 2012 Impact factor 1.270)DOI:10.1007/s10551-004-1822-0


2. Moon, J and Orlitzky, M (2011) `Corporate social responsibility and sustainability education: A trans-Atlantic comparison' Journal of Management & Organization 17 583-604. Impact Factor 2012 (5 Yr): 0.687) DOI: 10.5172/jmo.2011.17.5.583 (also available on request)


3. Murphy, R, Sharma, N and Moon, J (2012) `Empowering Students to Engage with Responsible Business Thinking and Practices' Business & Professional Ethics Journal, 31:2 313-330 (published by the Philosophy Documentation Center in cooperation with the Institute for Business and Professional Ethics, De Paul University) DOI: 10.5840/bpej201231215$FI LE/bpej_2012_0031_0002_0121_0138.pdf


4. Godemann, J, Herzig, C, Moon, J and Powell, A (2011) `Integrating Sustainability into Business Schools — Analysis of 100 UN PRME Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) reports' ICCSR Research papers [58-2011] (established 2003 ISNN 14795124)


5. Godemann, J, Haertle, J, Herzig, C, Moon, J (2013) `United Nations supported Principles for Responsible Management Education: purpose, progress and prospects' Journal of Cleaner Production (5 year impact factor 3.587) http://ac.els- 11e3-9eba-00000aacb360&acdnat=1381326510_68fd67ab38b6fab0ac43182cb03a7529


Research Funding:

Grant holder: J Moon (ICCSR)
Grant title: Analysis of the 2nd European Survey and Public Directory "Business in Society and
Corporate Responsibility Research, Education and Other Initiatives in Business Schools and
Sponsor: ABIS
Period: 2007 - 2008
Value: £11,000.

Grant holder: J Moon (ICCSR)
Grant title: `Curriculum development for mainstreaming CR — Phase III in partnership with ABIS and
Sponsor: INSEAD (on behalf of ABIS)
Period: 2009
Value: £12,000

Grant holder: J Moon (ICCSR)
Grant title: `Integrating Sustainability into Business Schools'
Sponsor: HEFCE through the Leadership Governance and Management Fund
Period: 2010 - 2011
Value: £90,000

Details of the impact

The research on responsible and sustainable business education has helped to shape the policies of ABIS and UN PRME and, through them EQUIS accreditation systems and EU policies on responsible business education. It has informed UK higher education bodies' guidance to business schools through the Higher Education Academy. As a result business schools can access evidence-based resources in order to develop effective practice.

Publication 1 was the first piece of academic research to:

i. introduce and measure the concept of mainstreaming CSR into general business education connecting academic research to key policy developments;

ii. consider CSR education in broad terms in line with European practice;

iii. identify key drivers for CSR education and highlight the importance of institutional actors.

These findings were used by ABIS to support the integration of ethics into EQUIS business school accreditation [A], and also to support its contribution to the development of the UN PRME at global steering committee level [B]. UN PRME has since become a critical institutional actor in responsible business education with 505 business school and university signatories.

The initial survey (1) has become a reference point for those interested in responsible and sustainable management education. [J]. It has received 169 citations since 2008 (Google Scholar) and the pre-publication version has had 540 abstract views (SSRN).

The second (2008) survey provided the framework and content for the Business and Society Gateway — an online resource centre developed by the European Foundation for Management Development and ABIS. ABIS report that in the period April 2008-October 2012 the gateway has received 108,497 unique visitors [A]

The survey report and analysis was provided as an Annex to a report by ABIS to the European Commission DG Research providing policy recommendations for future commitments, priorities and frameworks for enhancing CSR teaching and research in Europe. [A]

The pedagogical research into the value of experiential learning for responsible and sustainable business education have been published by ABIS through its Gateway and distributed widely to industry, academia, policy-makers and other stakeholders including 400 participants of the 2012 PRME Global Summit and all signatory institutions of the UN PRME. [A] This was with the purpose of integrating CSR into mainstream university education as well as in-house corporate training.

More recently, ICCSR research in this area has contributed specific guidance on how to successfully teach CSR and sustainability in the classroom, extending its practical application. The `Integrating Sustainability into Business Schools' project analysed the extent to which business schools integrated and communicated social, economic and ecological sustainability in their educational programmes, research and their organisational practices and processes.

The analytical framework (4) was used by UN PRME to structure the Inspirational Guide for the Implementation of PRME: Placing sustainability at the heart of management published by PRME in June 2012 [B, C and D].

The paper was also used as background to the 3rd Global Forum for Responsible Management Education in June 2012 [B and E] [ This Forum brought together 300 representatives from higher education, business, civil society and government. It considered how the UN PRME facilitates individual and systemic change within higher education as the community mobilises action toward achieving the Rio+20 vision on sustainable development, and ran in parallel to the Rio +20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

Additionally the Head of the PRME Secretariat drew heavily on this research when presenting UN PRME at important business school conferences [B and F]. The UN PRME Newsletter for August 2013 also referred to our publication and provides a direct link to the paper [G].

Our analysis of Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) reports was published as a chapter in Enhancing education for sustainable development in Business and Management, Hospitality, Leisure, Marketing, Tourism by the Higher Education Academy (H) intended to guide business schools in thinking about integrating sustainability. This chapter included our findings on educational frameworks for sustainability and understanding sustainability research; approaches to curriculum change; approaches to facilitating transformational change; the role of dialogues; and barriers and enablers to integrating sustainability.

Our overview of approaches to `Integrating Sustainability into Business Schools' was published on a dedicated website [I] and presented at a workshop hosted by Nottingham on 20-21 October 2011 and attended by representatives of business schools, the UN PRME, the UNESCO Chair `Higher Education for Sustainable Development' and the Chief Executive of the Association of Business Schools. The impetus of this workshop was used to develop interest in a UK Chapter of the UN PRME founded in May 2013.

Sources to corroborate the impact

The body of research on responsible and sustainable business education has helped to shape ABIS, EU, EFMD and UN PRME policies on responsible business education.

A. ABIS assessment of use of ICCSR & ABIS research.

B. UN PRME assessment of ICCSR research.pdf

C. Inspiration Guide location

D. UN PRME Inspirational Guide.pdf

E. 3rd Global Forum on Management Education from

F. Presentation — UNPRME referencing work.pdf

G. UN PRME Newsletter.pdf

H. HE Academy:

i HE Academy publication featured on website

ii HE Academy Publication.pdf

I. ISIBS Website:

J. SSRN evidence of P1 pre-publication version abstract downloads.& Google Scholar evidence of P1 citations