Sustainable management education and an empirical five-pillar model of sustainability

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Management academics, as the primary researchers of business practices and the educators of future managers, play critical roles shaping corporate behaviour and industry response to global sustainability challenges. However, the competencies required to optimise sustainable management education are often lacking and further research is required. Addressing recognised gaps in the literature, this study measured student perceptions of global sustainability to better inform sustainable management education. 59 in-depth interviews with students from an Australian business and law school identified their sustainability concerns. The perceived importance of such concerns was then quantified via a survey with 383 responses. Factor analysis generated five core sustainability dimensions, comprised of 31 items, which inform a new empirically derived five-pillar model of sustainability. This model includes pillars from traditional three- and four-pillar conceptual models of sustainable development, as well as a new fifth pillar of corporate sustainability. The five pillars in order of perceived importance are social, political, economic, environmental, corporate and economic – importance varied between student types. Aligned with the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals, these five pillars and associated items provide a useful planning tool to assist sustainable management educators in structuring their curricula, as well as businesses considering their sustainable corporate impacts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100658
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Management Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


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