Decoupling responsible management education: Do business schools walk their talk?

Michael J. Maloni, Kennesaw State University
Timothy B. Palmer, Western Michigan University
Marc Cohen, Seattle University
David M. Gligor, University of Mississippi
John R. Grout, Berry College
Robert Myers, Scheller College of Business


Corporate scandals in recent decades have prompted business schools to advance programs to better develop the next generation of responsible business leaders. Despite these efforts, some scholars have raised concerns about the effectiveness of responsible management education (RME), particularly that business schools have decoupled pedagogical practices from stated RME objectives. That is, a school's actual RME implementation does not match its stated commitment. Given limited empirical evidence verifying decoupling and its conditions, we surveyed undergraduate students at U.S. business schools, applying the theory of planned behavior to assess factors influencing student intentions to practice responsible management in their careers. We found some evidence of decoupling, including indication that a school's external commitment to RME as well as its level of RME curriculum integration do not reliably overcome decoupling to improve RME effectiveness. The results thus indicate that business schools may not fully walk their responsible management talk. We provide feedback on how to help resource-constrained schools combat decoupling, highlighting the need to particularly strengthen faculty subjective norm and student perceived behavior control to better influence student responsible management intentions.