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Sustainability and human competences: a systematic literature review

Barbara Galleli (Department of Applied Social Sciences, Federal University of Parana, Curitiba, Brazil)
Flavio Hourneaux Jr (School of Economics, Business and Accounting, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil)
Luciano Munck (Center for Applied Social Studies, State University of Londrina, Londrina, Brazil)

Benchmarking: An International Journal

ISSN: 1463-5771

Article publication date: 26 June 2019

Issue publication date: 19 August 2020



The purpose of this paper is to identify and discuss human competences required for sustainability management in organisations.


The research is based on a systematic review of the literature, through qualitative thematic analysis.


The research covered 15 years of scientific publications and was summarised in 43 articles. It revealed that education, more than management, was the field of knowledge with more references in human competences, through exploratory methodological approaches. The competences found were plenty, but there is still some misunderstanding regarding their conceptual and theoretical bases.

Research limitations/implications

This research provides evidence that the academic knowledge on the subject is still at its initial stage, and it exposes the debility of the management area in addressing the subject.

Practical implications

The authors intend to indicate to managers some fundamentals for the adoption of human competences for sustainability aiming at a more sustainable performance in organisations.

Social implications

The results may instigate studies concerning the fit of sustainability competences developed on higher education institutions and the job market. From it, curricula and pedagogical projects can be proposed and revised with better alignment to the organisational context.


This paper presents a theoretical contribution by building bridges among different perspectives and fields of knowledge on the topic. The paper also offers a managerial contribution by stimulating practical discussions to develop sustainability in organisations through individuals.



Galleli, B., Hourneaux Jr, F. and Munck, L. (2020), "Sustainability and human competences: a systematic literature review", Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. 27 No. 7, pp. 1981-2004.



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