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COVID-19: accelerator or demolisher of the RME agenda?

Mathias Falkenstein (Luiss Business School, Rome, Italy)
Ulrich Hommel (EBS University of Business and Law, Wiesbaden, Germany)
Annie Snelson-Powell (School of Management, University of Bath, Bath, UK)

Journal of Global Responsibility

ISSN: 2041-2568

Article publication date: 9 August 2021

Issue publication date: 13 January 2022

168

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to enrich the discussion at the intersection of responsible management education (RME) and the pandemic with new views that explore together the inhibitors of and drivers for a strengthening of RME in the emerging context. On the one hand, the pandemic crisis fosters the social role business schools play by supporting the enhancement of the RME rationale as an idealist foundational pillar of responsible business schools. On the other hand, it invites negative pragmatic responses in the light of financial and competitive disturbances that seem to enlarge the opportunity cost of moving RME forward.

Design/methodology/approach

The essay puts forward arguments that help dissect the inherent contradictions and synergies between idealistic and pragmatic business school strategies, as they are impacted by the dynamics of COVID-19. The analysis serves to frame a discourse over the extent to which the pandemic crisis is acting as an accelerator of the RME agenda or instead brings the risk of demolishing what has been achieved so far.

Findings

The authors form an opinion of the emerging factors that promote and inhibit RME in business schools as they grapple with the challenges of the pandemic whilst recognizing the inherent contradictions faced in their strategic choices and resourcing.

Originality/value

In light of the growing emphasis on RME in the literature, this study challenges the degree to which the agenda has already become firmly rooted as a core organizational and educational theme in business schools. By doing so, it delivers an assessment of RME progress as a relevant strategic lever for business schools, whilst nonetheless being at risk of back-sliding.

Keywords

Citation

Falkenstein, M., Hommel, U. and Snelson-Powell, A. (2022), "COVID-19: accelerator or demolisher of the RME agenda?", Journal of Global Responsibility, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 87-100. https://doi.org/10.1108/JGR-12-2020-0109

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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