Understanding Responsible Management: Emerging Themes and Variations from European Business School Programs

Abstract

Our literature review reveals a call for changes in business education to encourage responsible management. The Principles for Responsible Management Education were developed in 2007 under the coordination of the United Nations Global Compact, AACSB International, and other leading academic institutions for the purpose of promoting responsible management in education. Literature review shows that responsible management as such remains undefined. This gap in literature leads potentially to an absence of clarity in research, education, and management, regarding responsible management among scholars and practitioners. The aim of this research is to develop a preliminary definition of responsible management, exploring the use of the term in literature and practice. Its objective is to define the main characteristics of responsible management aimed at creating a platform for discussion so as to help organizations clarify their own vision of responsible management. It builds on preliminary findings from literature review that responsible management remains undefined. As business school students are primary stakeholders in management education and are future management leaders, and as there have not been empirical studies to date that examine business school students’ understanding of responsible management, a qualitative study was conducted with European business school students concerning their understanding of the term. A framework summarizing perceptions of responsible management characteristics and broad approach of responsible management definition were created and used to introduce a draft theoretical platform for discussion on this topic.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Author translation: «on peut définir le manager responsable comme un manager qui n’est plus irresponsable… ouvert sur le monde extérieur, citoyen, proche de ses collaborateurs, mais qui gère également des mesures économiques: autant dire que son profil est polymorphe et par là-même complexe» (Fray and Soparnot 2010, p. 127).

Abbreviations

CDA:

Critical discourse analysis

MBA:

Master of business administration

MSc:

Master of social sciences

PRME:

Principles for responsible management education

CSR:

Corporate social responsibility

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Appendices

Appendices

Appendix 1: Extract of the Language-in-Use for Responsible Management from HEC-Alter Management Master Classroom Setting and Compared to Existing Literature

  Planet # Average words worrwords  Economic # Average words  Social # Average words  Governance, transversal & systemic understanding # Average words  Knowing Doing # Average words
School HEC Environment, sustainability   Strategy, shareholder, management, business, innovation   Equality, diversity, welfare, international, stakeholders   Leadership & vision, Legal, future generations, inclusiveness   Critical thinking   Research & education & references   Importance of experience, acting upon  
Student 1 Sustainable projects, sustainable development, ecological impact, environment taken in account 10 Green company, local production & local partnership, stop outsourcing 9 Human resources & hiring, diversity, discrimination 6 CSR, long-term vision 4 Not only communication & image 5 Business administration 2 Real projects 2
Student 2   0 Change, social economy, new 4 Multi-dimensional, Human place inside companies, solidarity 7 CSR, companies, NGOs intertwined 4 Critical thinking, questioning 3   0   0
Student 3 Green, ecology, sustainable development 4 Change, transformations, entrepreneurship 3 Society, social, social impact 4 Europe 1 Thinking, walk the talk vs talk the walk 8 Research, studies, CNRS 3   0
Student 4 Planet, humans and animals, protection, sustainable development 7 Micro credit, change consequences analysis, innovation 6 General interest, social impact, social business 6 External and internal impact, in & outside the company 9   0 Mohamed Yunus, Patagonia 3   0
Student 5 Environment, sustainable development 3 Fair revenues for all 4 Access to consumption for all, share, social integration 8 Europe, alter-globalization, new types of growth, transport, train, world institution 10 Wild capitalism, capitalism crisis 4 Business history, Fordism consequences, business history, José Bové 8   0
Student 6 Environment, pollution, future, carbon footprint 5 Fair trade, cooperative, green technologies, micro credit, HR, employees & working conditions 12 Culture, social link, society, social firms, disabled employees, social impact 10 Profit distribution, stakeholders, unions, international 5 Finance & dangers, gender & other discriminations 7 Max Havelaar, education, Emmaüs 4   0
Student 7 Ecosystem, sustainability, sustainable development 4 Improvement, new models, change actors, HR 6 Human 1 Future generations 2   0 Education 1   0
Student 8 Environment at work, water, energy, paper, waste, sustainable development, media, consumers, society 12 Initiative undertaker, efficiency, competitive hedge, value chain, suppliers choice 9 Single mothers help, social integration & young unemployed, culture, flexible schedule for parents, child care at work, access for disabled, less hierarchy, family spirit 24 Children 1 Greenwashing? 1 Education for all 3   0
Student 9 Environmental issues, ecology, climate, plastic pollution 6 Change, innovation projects, micro credit, financial interest 7 Human interests, local initiatives 4 CSR, geography 2 Planet Finance, marketing, unclear motivations, image 6 M. Yunus, Bangladesh, Danone, yoghurt 5   0
Student 10 Ecology, sustainable management 3 To innovate, HR 3 Social cohesion, poverty 3 Long-term, final goal, balanced growth 6 Quality importance and balance with quantity, discrimination, not enough money for quality, problem 13   0   0
Sum 15 83 14 78 18 102 16 76 13 74 13 52 1 2
% 83 % 6 78 % 6 100 % 6 89 % 5 72 % 6 72 % 4 6 % 2
  Triple bottom line   87 %            

Appendix 2: Summary Responses: Percentage Total Answers/Category & Average Words/Student

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Nonet, G., Kassel, K. & Meijs, L. Understanding Responsible Management: Emerging Themes and Variations from European Business School Programs. J Bus Ethics 139, 717–736 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-016-3149-z

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Keywords

  • Business school students
  • Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
  • Ethics
  • Management education
  • Responsible management definition
  • Soft Skills
  • Sustainable development
  • Management triple bottom line
  • Principles for responsible management