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Moving beyond the rhetoric of responsible management education

Eric Cornuel (HEC, Paris, France, AND EFMD, Brussels, Belgium)
Ulrich Hommel (EBS Business School, Wiesbaden, Germany, AND EFMD, Brussels, Belgium)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 9 February 2015




Business schools appear to be slow adopters of responsible management education (RME), though the rhetoric of RME is visible throughout the sector. The purpose of this paper and the accompanying ones in this Special Issue is to address this apparent gap between substance and image by analysing the barriers to RME adoption and potential ways of overcoming them. The contributions offer insights from a range of different perspectives that will help encourage an informed debate on how to make RME more of a reality in management education.


This paper analyses the problem within the dominant institutional logic of the business school sector, which is shaped by entrepreneurialism, operational for-profit orientation and externally validated reputation creation. It sets the stage for the other contributions to this Special Issue, which use alternative approaches to analyse the limited progress of RME adoption.


This paper identifies five potential barriers to RME adoption: students, as “customers”, do not sufficiently value the “R” in RME; the switch from full-time to part-time and online provision precludes the use of pedagogical methods particularly suited for RME; the fragmentation of intellectual production in business schools makes it difficult to implement an institution-wide RME-based learning model; the standardization of educational provision combined with a focus on ranking-related performance indicators moves business schools away from addressing RME-specific learning needs; and entrepreneurialism and business school rankings link RME directly and indirectly to financial impact, which is difficult to determine. In the authors’ view the way forward requires a review of the intellectual underpinning of modern management in combination with the adjustment of organizational routines and more explicit forms of faculty development.


The existing literature focuses on the differentiating features of RME and how they can help to overcome deficiencies in management education as practiced today. This paper and others in this Special Issue adopt the reverse perspective and analyse the reasons for institutional inertia as a starting point for identifying ways of encouraging more widespread adoption.



The authors thank Christophe Lejeune, Petra Riemer-Hommel and Richard Raatzsch for helpful comments and suggestions.


Cornuel, E. and Hommel, U. (2015), "Moving beyond the rhetoric of responsible management education", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 2-15.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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