Academic journal article Journal of Management and Organization

Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Education: A Trans-Atlantic Comparison

Academic journal article Journal of Management and Organization

Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Education: A Trans-Atlantic Comparison

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Using a sample of 72 European and 22 North American educational institutions, we examine the extent to which business schools in North America and Europe are driving educational programs and initiatives in corporate social responsibility and sustainability (CSRS). Drawing on several theoretical perspectives, such as institutional-comparative perspectives and resource dependence theory, the study indicates the increasing prominence of CSRS education in business schools on both continents. It does so through analysis of the extent to which business schools offer (a) dedicated CSRS programs, (b) CSRS tracks and majors, (c) compulsory CSRS classes or modules, and (d) optional CSRS modules across the range of taught programs. Contrary to some previous findings, religious affiliation, public/private status, and program size had only a negligible direct association with schools' commitment to CSRS education. However, business school prestige showed a statistically significant relationship. Finally, the study highlights how European respondents' perceptions concerning the primary drivers and constraints of CSRS initiatives differed from those in North America.

Keywords: corporate citizenship, corporate responsibility, corporate social responsibility, corporate social responsibility and sustainability education, ethics education, European Association for Business in Society (EABiS), survey, sustainability

Interest in corporate social responsibility and sustainability (CSRS) education has kept pace with the increasing interest in CSRS more generally. Even the skeptics acknowledge that it has grown in prominence. In 2002, the Chief Economics Correspondent of the Financial Times commented that 'corporate social responsibility is an idea whose time has come' (Wolf, 2002, p. 62). Similarly, a leader in The Economist commented that 'corporate social responsibility has great momentum' (Economist, 2008, p. 3), and a Times (UK) Supplement reported growing interest in CSRS in Masters in Business Administration programs (Finn, 2008). Moreover, in the magazine Ethical Corporation, Balch (2007a, p. 8) argued that 'business schools that put corporate responsibility (CR) teaching at the core of their courses are now at a competitive advantage'.

There is broad agreement about the growing importance of CSRS for business and a growing stream of research from a variety of discipline perspectives on its status, its drivers, and barriers in higher education generally, and business education in particular. Although there is by no means consensus about what appropriate CSRS education might look like, there is an improved understanding of its basic elements and alternative strategies for its development and integration (e.g., Holmberg et al., 2008; Sibbel, 2009; Velazquez et al., 2005). This paper contributes to this area by considering the significance of the nature of educational systems for advancing CSRS education. Specifically, it draws on a survey of business schools to compare CSRS education in North America and Europe focusing on:

1. the extent of North American and European business schools offering of CSRS education in terms of: dedicated CSRS programs, CSRS tracks and majors, compulsory CSRS classes or modules, and optional CSRS modules across undergraduate (UG), Master of Arts (MA)/Master of Science (MS), MBA (full-time (FT) and part-time), and Executive (open and tailored corporate) programs;

2. the commitment of public and private schools to CSRS education;

3. the commitment of highly ranked (i.e., highprestige) schools to CSRS education;

4. the impact of school size on commitment to CSRS education;

5. the contingency effects of school location moderating the influence of prestige, public/ private status, and school size, and

6. the key drivers of and barriers to the mainstreaming of CSRS education.

Our study tests hypotheses derived from the comparative business systems literature and the findings and observations to date on CSRS education in the respective continents. …

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