Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 139, Issue 4, pp 737–754 | Cite as

Beyond the Curriculum: Integrating Sustainability into Business Schools

  • Mollie Painter-MorlandEmail author
  • Ehsan Sabet
  • Petra Molthan-Hill
  • Helen Goworek
  • Sander de Leeuw


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, 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.


Sustainable management Business schools Systemic approach ESGE issues Curriculum 



The authors would like to acknowledge and thank the following individuals who were part of the initial ABIS-EFMD survey project through which the data was gathered, and who were part of initial discussions to reflect on the data. From ABIS, we thank Gilbert Lenssen, Simon Pickard, Jacqueline Brassey, Marieke de Kort and Elena Urizar. From EFMD, we are grateful to Ulrich Hommel, Jocelyn Wang and Christoph Lejeune.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mollie Painter-Morland
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Ehsan Sabet
    • 3
  • Petra Molthan-Hill
    • 4
  • Helen Goworek
    • 5
  • Sander de Leeuw
    • 3
    • 6
  1. 1.Nottingham Business SchoolNottingham Trent UniversityNottinghamUK
  2. 2.IEDC-Bled School of ManagementBledSlovenia
  3. 3.Management Division, Nottingham Business SchoolNottingham Trent UniversityNottinghamUK
  4. 4.Management DivisionNottingham Business SchoolNottinghamUK
  5. 5.School of Management, Ken Edwards BuildingUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  6. 6.Faculty of Economics & Business Administration, Department of Information, Logistics & InnovationVU UniversityAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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