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Lead, respond, partner or ignore: the role of business schools on corporate responsibility

Louise Gardiner (Freelance writer and editor in the field of CSR and sustainable development, as well as former editor of the CSR Magazine. Louise holds a BA honours degree in Philosophy and English Literature from the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa), and an MA in International Relations from the University of Kent. She is currently working on a PhD through the International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ICCSR) at Nottingham University Business School. (
Peter Lacy (Executive Director of the European Academy of Business in Society and a graduate in political science from the University of Nottingham. Before joining EABIS, Peter was a management consultant with Accenture’s Strategy Division, and has held various posts in marketing and business management for different companies (Ford UK, and On behalf of EABIS, he sits on several boards including the steering group of the newly created UK CSR Academy and the Corporate Governance Journal. (

Corporate Governance

ISSN: 1472-0701

Article publication date: 1 April 2005



A number of recent trends are influencing business schools towards better teaching and accounting for the role of “business in society” (BiS). The following article looks at selected results from the most comprehensive survey ever of BiS teaching and research in European academic institutions – undertaken in 2003 by the European Academy of Business in Society and Nottingham University Business School’s International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ICCSR), with the support of the European Foundation for Management Development (efmd). The survey found, among other things, that there is a clear demand from business and students for research, education and training on BiS issues; that teaching on the role of BiS is still far from being “mainstream” to the business curriculum; and that the diversity of European approaches and terms signal both a strength and a challenge for the BiS debate. The article looks at how a wide range of initiatives are being undertaken by both business schools and business, and often in unique partnerships, to address these challenges and move the BiS research and education agenda forward. Finally, the thorny issue of accreditation is tackled. Improving accreditation processes will play an important part in bringing the business education community up to speed with the new roles and responsibilities they are being asked to fulfill by a wide range of stakeholders (students, society, business and government). As both educators and mediators in the debate, business schools have a valuable contribution to make. In turn, they too are increasingly being made accountable for their own social and environmental impact. The article argues that business schools can choose whether they want to lead, respond, or partner with business to meet these challenges. However, it seems they can no longer afford to ignore it as a passing fad.



Gardiner, L. and Lacy, P. (2005), "Lead, respond, partner or ignore: the role of business schools on corporate responsibility", Corporate Governance, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 174-185.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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