Positive Impact Blog

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Embedding sustainability and responsibility across all functions

Currently, business schools teach business by studying each field separately (see Figure 2). Over the past decades, there have been three different evolutions in teaching business:

a)        Integration of functional approaches: Teaching methods have evolved to include the case study approach, thus moving from transmitting functional concepts and theories to simulating the complexity of real-life business situations and decisions.

b)      Integration of learning and action: To overcome the lack of integration between theory and practice, some business schools have complemented their learning approaches with forms of applied learning (action learning, experiential learning), placing learning directly into the field.

c)       Integration of values and ethics: To respond to growing societal concerns and critics, values and ethics have been added to the business curriculum, albeit as a poorly integrated add-on.


Figure 2 – The silo approach to teaching

Sustainability and responsibility, the current challenge to business studies, are likely to be added – and marginalized ­- in the same way. It is no longer possible to patch-up the existing system of business education with new add-ons, trying to fix systemic weaknesses.  It will need a more fundamental approach, based on reflections about some of the underlying paradigms.

Author: Katrin Muff PhD

Dr. Katrin Muff is Director of the Institute for Business Sustainability in Lucerne, Switzerland and Professor of Practice at the LUISS Business School in Rome, Italy. She consults leaders and boards in business sustainability and strategic transformation, and runs an executive program together with Thomas Dyllick. Her book “Five Superpowers for Co-creators” provides insights about issue-centered multi-stakeholder processes. She brings 20 years of international strategic and general management experience in Europe, Australia, North America and Russia and a decade of leadership in business education. www.KatrinMuff.com

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