Exploring Student Perceptions of the Hidden Curriculum in Responsible Management Education

  • Catharina Høgdal
  • Andreas RascheEmail author
  • Dennis Schoeneborn
  • Levinia Scotti
Original Paper


This exploratory study analyzes the extent of alignment between the formal and hidden curricula in responsible management education (RME). Based on case study evidence of a school that has signed the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), we found poor alignment between the school’s explicit RME claims and students’ lived experiences. While the formal curriculum signaled to students that RME was important, the school’s hidden curriculum sent a number of tacit messages that led students to question the relevance and applicability of responsible management. The tacit messages that students received occurred along three “message sites” related to (a) how the formal curriculum was delivered, (b) how students and lecturers interacted, and (c) how the school was governed. On the basis of these findings we develop a proposition that can guide further research in this area, i.e., the connotative level of language use is an important site of misalignments between what lecturers say in relation to RME (e.g., in a syllabus) and how students interpret the meaning of their lecturers’ words. We also discuss further implications of our findings for strengthening the alignment between schools’ formal RME claims and their hidden curriculum.


Responsible management education Business education Hidden curriculum PRME Classroom practices 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CBS Centre for SustainabilityCopenhagen Business SchoolFrederiksbergDenmark
  2. 2.Mistra Centre for Sustainable Markets (MISUM)Stockholm School of EconomicsStockholmSweden
  3. 3.Department of Management, Communication and Society (MSC)Copenhagen Business SchoolFrederiksbergDenmark
  4. 4.Institute of Management & Organization (IMO)Leuphana University LüneburgLüneburgGermany

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