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Sustainability: what the entrepreneurship educators think

Lynne Wyness (Pedagogic Research Institute and Observatory (PedRIO), Plymouth University, Plymouth, UK)
Paul Jones (Plymouth Business School, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK)
Rita Klapper (Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 9 November 2015




The purpose of this paper is to consider the understanding and presence of sustainability within entrepreneurship education. The extant literature on sustainability within the entrepreneurship discipline remains extremely limited. Previously, sustainability within an entrepreneurship context has related to economic viability as opposed to sustainability in its broadest sense. This study explores, through a survey of entrepreneurship educators, three key research questions, namely, how entrepreneurship educators believe that entrepreneurs can contribute to solving sustainability problems. Second, to what extent education about sustainability is integrated within existing entrepreneurship curricula. Finally, what considerations are being made to include sustainability within future programmes.


This study represented part of a larger university project exploring the associations between the sustainability and entrepreneurship disciplines. This part of the study involved a web-based survey from entrepreneurship academics drawn from Australia, New Zealand, UK, and the USA which provided 54 completed questionnaires.


The study uncovered much good practice led by “champions” within the entrepreneurship discipline. However, embedded sustainability practice was typically limited and it was more typically regarded as an “add-on” to traditional entrepreneurial teaching.

Practical implications

The study proposes three ways in which sustainability might be more meaningfully integrated into entrepreneurship programmes. First, the QAA (2012) guidelines for enterprise and entrepreneurship need to be reconsidered to encapsulate the sustainability agenda. Second, for entrepreneurship educators to reconsider their pedagogical approaches to encapsulate systems thinking as more holistic educational perspective. Finally, the authors call for entrepreneurship educators to revise their programmes to embed the core facets of social, environmental, economic, and more recently ethical sustainability.


The study offers a novel insight into entrepreneurship educators attitudes to sustainability and their approach to it within their curricula. This study provides an initial benchmark regarding the levels of sustainability provision within entrepreneurship curricula which will be of interest to the entrepreneurship academic community, the sustainability community, and policy makers.



Wyness, L., Jones, P. and Klapper, R. (2015), "Sustainability: what the entrepreneurship educators think", Education + Training, Vol. 57 No. 8/9, pp. 834-852.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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