Understanding Pro-environmental Behaviour of Accounting and Business Students: Development of a Conceptual Framework

  • Habib Zaman KhanEmail author
  • Johra Kayeser Fatima
  • Sudipta Bose
Part of the Accounting, Finance, Sustainability, Governance & Fraud: Theory and Application book series (AFSGFTA)


In recent years, many environmental and ecological problems have been witnessed in the globe that calls for increasing attention. Educating both mature and young students together with understanding their behaviours with respect to environmental and sustainability theme and taking appropriate course of actions is perceived important as part of the answering such problems. Given that considerable investment in environmental and sustainability education have been made in educational institutions such as school, colleges and the universities level, the idea of enlightening and encouraging students to initiate and promote environmental behaviours involve many antecedents, moderating and mediating factors, which necessitate further investigation. Against the backdrop, the current study reviews education, social science and sustainability literature and identify different factors that could influence of pro-environmental behaviours for universities students. Triangulating the views based on four established psychological theories such as the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), Social Cognitive Theory, Schwart’s Norm Activation Theory and Values-Beliefs-Norms Theory, a theoretical framework has been outlined in the current study to guide future research efforts aimed at exploring sustainability and pro-environmental actions of tertiary students. The framework is also beneficial for the academic community for future empirical investigation.


Pro-environmental behaviour Higher education industry Accounting and business students Theoretical triangulation Sustainability 


  1. Adomssent M (2013) Exploring universities’ transformative potential for sustainability-bound learning in changing landscapes of knowledge communication. J Clean Prod 49:11–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ajzen I (1991) The theory of planned behavior. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 50:179–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ajzen I, Fishbein M (1980) Understanding attitudes and predicting social behavior. Prentice Hall, Englewood CliffsGoogle Scholar
  4. Asmuni S, Khalili JM, Zain ZM (2012) Sustainable consumption practices of students in an urban setting: a case in Selangor. Proc Soc Behav Sci 36:716–722CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bamberg S, Moser G (2007) Twenty years after Hines, Hungerford and Tomera: a new meta-analysis of psycho-social determinants of pro-environmental behaviour. J Environ Psychol 27:14–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bandura A (1982) Self-efficacy mechanisms in human agency. Am Psychol 37:122–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bandura A (1986) Social foundations of thought and action: a social cognitive theory. Prentice Hall, Englewood CliffsGoogle Scholar
  8. Bandura A (1997) Self-efficacy: the exercise of control. Freeman, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Bandura A (1999). Social cognitive theory of personality. In: Pervin LA, John OP (eds) Handbook of personality, 2nd edn. Guilford Press, New York, pp 154–196Google Scholar
  10. Bandura A (2000) Exercise of human agency through collective efficacy. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 9:75–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Boldero J (1995) The prediction of household recycling of newspapers: the role of attitudes, intentions, and situational factors. J Appl Soc Psychol 25:440–462CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bradley JC, Waliczek TM, Zajicek JM (1999) Relationship between environmental knowledge and environmental attitude of high school students. J Environ Educ 30:17–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Caprara GV, Steca P (2007) Prosocial agency: the contribution of values and self-efficacy beliefs to pro social behavior across ages. J Soc Clin Psychol 26:218–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cheung SF, Chan DKS, Wong ZSY (1999) Re-examining the theory of planned behavior in understanding wastepaper recycling. Environ Behav 31:587–612CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cordano M, Welcomer S, Scherer R, Pradenas L, Parada V (2010) Understanding cultural differences in the antecedents of pro-environmental behavior: a comparative analysis of business students in the United States and Chile. J Environ Educ 41(4):224–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Corraliza JA, Berenguer J (2000) Environmental values, beliefs and actions. Environ Behav 32:832–848CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ewert A, Baker D (2001) Standing for where you sit: and exploratory analysis of the relationship between academic major and environment beliefs. Environ Behav 33:687–707CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fatima JK, Khan HZ, Goh E (2016) Environmental knowledge and behavioural outcomes of tourism students in Australia: towards testing a range of mediation and moderated mediation effects. Environ Educ Res 22(5):747–764CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fatima JK, Khan HZ, Halabi A (2017) The mediating impact of social interactions on ecotourism: evidence from Australia. Tour Anal: Interdisc J 22(1):85–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fishbein M, Ajzen I (1975) Belief, attitude, intention and behavior. Reading, MA: Addison-WesleyGoogle Scholar
  21. Gifford R (2014) Environmental psychology matters. Annu Rev Psychol 65:541–579CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Guagnano GA, Stern PC, Dietz T (1995). Influences on attitude-behavior relationships: A natural experiment with curbside recycling. Environ Behav 27:699–718CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Homburg A, Stolberg A (2006) Explaining pro-environmental behavior with a cognitive theory of stress. J Environ Psychol 26:1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hunecke M, Blöbaum A, Matthies E, Hoger, R (2001). Responsibility and environment: Ecological norm orientation and external factors in the domain of travel mode choice behavior. Environ Behav 33:830–852CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jensen BB (2002) Knowledge, action and pro-environmental behavior. Environ Educ Res 8:325–334CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kollmuss A, Agyeman J (2002) Mind the gap: why do people act environmentally and what are the barriers to pro-environmental behavior? Environ Educ Res 8:239–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lee TH, Jan FH, Yang CC (2013) Conceptualizing and measuring environmentally responsible behaviors from the perspective of community-based tourists. Tour Manag 36:454–468CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lent RW, Brown SD, Hackett G (1994) Toward a unifying social cognitive theory of career and academic interest, choice, and performance. J Vocat Behav 45:79–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lent RW, Brown SD, Hackett G (2000) Contextual supports and barriers to career choice: a social cognitive analysis. J Counselling Psychol 47:36–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lozano R (2006) Incorporation and institutionalisation of SD into universities: breaking through barriers to change. J Clean Prod 14(9–11):787–796CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lozano R, Lukman R, Lozano FJ, Huisingh D, Lambrechts W (2013) Declarations for sustainability in higher education: becoming better leaders, through addressing the university system. J Clean Prod 48:10–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Meinhold JI, Malkus AJ (2005) Adolescent environmental behaviors. Can knowledge, attitudes, and self-efficacy make a difference? Environ Behav 37:511–532CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Milfont TL, Duckitt J, Wagner C (2010) A cross-cultural test of the value-attitude-behaviour hierarchy. J Appl Soc Psychol 40:2791–2813CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mobley C, Vagias WM, DeWard SL (2010) Exploring additional determinants of environmentally responsible behaviour: the influence of environmental literature and environmental attitudes. Environ Behav 42(4):420–447CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Oguz D, Çakci I, Kavas S (2010) Environmental awareness of university students in Ankara, Turkey. Afr J Agric Res 5:2629–2636Google Scholar
  36. Oom Do Valle P, Rebelo E, Reis E, Menezes J (2005) Combining behavioral theories to predict recycling involvement. Environ Behav 37:364–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ramus CA, Killmer ABC (2007) Corporate greening through prosocial extra role behaviors—a conceptual framework for employee motivation. Bus Strategy Environ 16:554–570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sawitri DR, Hadiyanto H, Hadi SP (2015) Pro-environmental behavior from a social cognitive theory perspective. Procedia Environ Sci 23:27–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Schwartz SH (1968a) Awareness of consequences and the influence of moral norms on interpersonal behavior. Sociometry 31:355–369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schwartz SH (1968b) Words, deeds, and the perception of consequences and responsibility in action situations. J Pers Soc Psychol 10:232–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schwartz SH (1970). Moral decision making and behavior. In: Macauley J, Berkowitz L (eds) Altruism and helping behaviour. Academic Press, New York, pp 127–141Google Scholar
  42. Schwartz SH (1973) Normative explanations of helping behavior: a critique, proposal, and empirical test. J Exp Soc Psychol 9:349–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schwartz SH (1977) Normative influences on altruism. In: Berkowitz L (ed) Advances in experimental social psychology, vol 10. Academic Press, New York, pp 271–279Google Scholar
  44. Sparks P, Shepherd R (1992) Self-identity and the theory of planned behavior: assessing the role of identification with “green consumerism. Soc Psychol Q 55:388–399CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Stern PC (1999) Information, incentives, and pro-environmental consumer behavior. J Consum Policy 22:461–478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Stern PC, Dietz T, Kalof L, Guagnano GA (1995a) Values, beliefs, and pro-environmental action: attitude formation toward emergent attitude objects. J Appl Soc Psychol 26:1611–1636CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Stern PC, Dietz T, Guagnano GA (1995b) The new ecological paradigm in social-psychological context. Environ Behav 1995(27):723–743CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Szerényi ZM, Zsóka Á, Széchy A (2009) Environmental education and pro-environmental consumer behaviour-results of a university survey. Joint Actions on Climate Change, Denmark, 8–10 JuneGoogle Scholar
  49. Tabernero C, Hernandez B (2010) Self-efficacy and intrinsic motivation. Environ Behav 43:658–675CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Taylor S, Todd P (1995) An integrated model of waste management behavior: a test of household recycling and composting intentions. Environ Behav 27:603–630CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Thoradeniya P, Lee J, Tan R, Ferreira A (2015) Sustainability reporting and the theory of planned behaviour. Account Audit Accountab J 28(7):1099–1137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Trumbo CW, O’Keefe GJ (2001) Intention to conserve water: Environmental values, planned behavior, and information effects. A comparison of three communities sharing a watershed. Soc Nat Resour 14:889–899CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wood RE, Bandura A (1989) Impact of conceptions of ability on self-regulatory mechanisms and complex decision making. J Pers Soc Psychol 56:407–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Zilahy G, Huisingh D (2009) The roles of academia in regional sustainability initiatives. J Clean Prod 17(2):1057–1066CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Zsóka A, Szerényi Z, Széchy A, Kocsis T (2012) Greening due to environmental education? Environmental knowledge, attitudes, consumer behaviour and everyday pro-environmental activities of Hungarian high school and university students. J Clean ProdGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Habib Zaman Khan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Johra Kayeser Fatima
    • 1
  • Sudipta Bose
    • 2
  1. 1.University of CanberraCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.The University of NewcastleNewcastleAustralia

Personalised recommendations