Sustainability in Higher Business Education. How can management education be the role model for sustainable development?

Essay, 2014

13 Pages, Grade: 2,0


Table of Contents

1 Introduction to the essay
1.1 Purpose of the essay
1.2 Context and relevance of the essay
1.3 Structure of the essay

2 Together what belongs together?
2.1 Sustainable development
2.2 Educational institutions as sources of production
2.3 Development of values through role modelling

3 Insights into a practical approach - EMS at Karlshochschule

4 Conclusions


This essay has been written and printed in the font “Century Gothic” which according to the University of Wisconsin considerably saves in paper and colour consumption.

1. Introduction to the essay

This section shall give a short outlook and overview of the nature of the essay at hand. It shall explain why the topic is of relevance and how what outcomes it gives reason to expect.

1.1 Purpose of the essay

The essay shall demonstrate how management schools can advance and are advancing to become a role model in the on-going sustainable development of society.

1.2 Context and relevance of the essay

The material presented in this essay is relevant to management institutions and to anyone involved with sustainable development to reinforce the generally accepted positive effects of education. The closed formulation of the question should not neglect the appreciation for the wider issue, as sustainability is a crossover, multidisciplinary field. However, the limitation was set to management education as being a form of educating future leadership personalities with advanced power to decide and direct organisations and to higher education being close to the age at entry into the working environment.

In times, of severe social-ecological problems and as a consequence thereof widespread efforts to oppose these problems, it is necessary to identify how to generate an effective countermovement and build resilience to a wider spread of such issues. Whereas the 20th century was shaped by wars and suppression in many countries, and hence the initiation of a worldwide peace process, the 21st century, even though still in its beginnings, will be a race against the so called environmental tipping points and social unfairness. And still the society is confronted with problems that are almost impossible to solve. The rapid economic development through the liberalisation of markets has lead to crises in diverse areas.

“Globalisation today is not working for many of the world’s poor. It is notworking for much of the environment. It is not working for the stability of theglobal economy.”(Stieglitz, 2002, p. 214)

Not only critics of the neoliberal globalisation demand a solidary, sustainable rethinking (Attac, 2014), a fair distribution of wealth is a fastidious challenge.

To secure at least the base of living of hundreds of million people is crucial. But for the 384 million people living with less than $1,25 per day (United Nation, 2013, p. 9), it is an absolute necessity that a socially responsible and economical-ecological viable attitude towards them will occur in the companies and consumer markets of western countries. Hence, this needs to occur in between those people relishing their higher education now or in the near future.

1.3 Structure of the essay

The essay shall first analyse the elements of the introducing question and hence first describe the importance of sustainable development. After this, the scope of management schools as educational institutions in addition to the functional transfer of knowledge shall be depicted. This then shall be connected to the fact of value building through role modelling which may lead to a fostered sustainable development.

In a second part, the example of Karlshochschule International University shall be listed to show how a practical implementation could look like.

2. Together what belongs together?

The first years of the millennium were also the breakthrough for clean energy technologies. Yet, they were only a metaphor for a much bigger development. The sustainable progress of environment and society deeply depends on the right decisions by consumers and producers but also on a broad social consensus about the particular priority and necessity of such. Where would it be better to start, if not with the young decision takers of tomorrow?

2.1 Sustainable development

The Brundtland Report (1987) defines sustainable development, as “development that satisfies the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (WCED, 1987). It therefore offers an interpretative framework in which limits the concept can be discussed. The speciality of the definition is it foresight taking into responsibility the current population to live a life that permits future human beings to do the same.

However, the concept can also be transferred to the constraint of the living population alone. Thereby it is fact, that the current state and events do not enable people in developing countries to live a life, which even comes close to the ones in the western hemisphere. The main reason for this being is connected to dilemmas that have arisen through the industrialisation - social, ecological and economic. See Stieglitz’ quote in chapter 1.2.

While the top fifth of the global population earns nearly three quarter of the world’s income, a fifth earns just 2% and “well over 600 million of the rural poor currently live on lands prone to degradation and water stress, and in upland areas, forest systems and dry lands that are vulnerable to climatic and ecological disruptions” (UNEP, 2011, p. 19). This makes it obvious that the bigger chunk of sustainable development has to occur in the developed countries and how the so-called developing countries are being deprived in their ability to catch up not to speak of engaging more in the common sustainable development or investing into the prevention of climate change repercussions. It is in the responsibility of western societies to change their political decisions taking and corporate and organisational activity but especially the individual (consumption) behaviour. The set of values of the people behind these decisions represents the core of such a solution.

However, not only the so-called developing countries are suffering under the lack of sustainable decision making. Even though people in Germany and Europe seldom have to fear hunger and homelessness, the last decade has shown the problems of a far too big financial sector, capitalism oriented employment behaviour and the neglecting of ecological evolution and progress as far as possible. Good examples for this are the big differences in personal wealth in Germany with the first six deciles only accounting for 3% of the net wealth and the top decile taking a share of 23,3%. (German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), 2009, p. 59; Bach et al, 2011, p. 11). At the very contrast to this last figure, in 2013, more than 15% of the German population (12,5 million people) was earning less than 60% of the median of the available incomes (990€) and hence accounted to the population in poverty or risk of poverty (German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), 2012, p. 8; Schneider et al, 2013, p. 3). People, who naturally will not be able to take environmental or social aspects into account in their consumption behaviour. This is a vicious circle of social unfairness and ecological dilemmas.


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Sustainability in Higher Business Education. How can management education be the role model for sustainable development?
Karlshochschule International University
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sustainability, higher, business, education
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Julien Schröder-Gianoncelli (Author), 2014, Sustainability in Higher Business Education. How can management education be the role model for sustainable development?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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