In this week’s research tidbits, we cover articles exploring methods used to apply corporate sustainability training.

Training for behavioural ethics and compliance in the workplace
Despite the increasing inclusion of ethics and compliance issues in corporate training, the business world remains rife with breaches of responsible management conduct. This situation indicates a knowledge–practice gap among professionals, i.e., a discrepancy between their knowledge of responsible management principles and their behaviour in day-to-day business life.

With this in mind, this paper addresses the formative, developmental question of how companies’ ethics and compliance training programs should be organised in a manner that enhances their potential to be effective. Drawing on both the qualitative analysis of existing ethics and compliance training and the conceptual literature on behavioural ethics, a framework is proposed that consecutively aligns various types of training into a comprehensive ethics and compliance training program.

The strengths and limitations of the suggested framework are discussed.

Christian Hauser. 2020. From Preaching to Behavioral Change: Fostering Ethics and Compliance Learning in the Workplace.
Journal of Business Ethics 162(4), 835–855.


What on earth should managers learn about corporate sustainability?
The Earth is facing pressing societal grand challenges that require urgent managerial action. Responsible management learning (RML) has emerged as a discipline to prepare managers to act as responsible leaders that can effectively address such pressing challenges. This article aims to extend current knowledge on RML in the domain of corporate sustainability (CS) through the application of threshold concepts, novel ideas which provide a doorway to new knowledge and transform a learner’s mindset.

Specifically, after conducting a systematic review of the management literature, the authors identify 33 CS threshold concepts that are useful for mainstream managers and practitioners in their RML process. The authors group them into six CS threshold concept themes that can help managers understand the complexities and interconnectedness that characterise CS.

Finally, the authors map CS threshold concepts with key competences for effective RML. Therefore, this contribution relies on translating existing CS theoretical frameworks into transformative, specific, understandable and applicable pieces of knowledge that might help mainstream managers to embed CS principles in their daily management practices.

Ivan Montiel, Peter Jack Gallo & Raquel Antolin-Lopez. 2020. What on Earth Should Managers Learn About Corporate Sustainability? A Threshold Concept Approach.
Journal of Business Ethics 162(4), 857–880.


Competences for environmental sustainability
Responsible management competences are the skills of managers to deal with the triple bottom line, stakeholder value and moral dilemmas. In this paper, the authors analyse how managers develop responsible management competences and how the competences interact with capabilities at the organisational level.

The paper contributes to the responsible management literature by integrating research on absorptive capacity and organisational learning. By creating intersections between these disparate research streams, this study enables a better understanding of the development of responsible management competences.

The paper is a systematic literature review on environmental competences, which are a type of responsible management competences referring to the managerial skills aimed at improving environmental sustainability. The findings demonstrate that managers who are able to recognise and acquire external knowledge develop environmental competences, and organisations capable of assimilating, transforming and exploiting knowledge develop environmental capabilities.

The paper establishes that a dynamic and recursive relation exists between environmental competences and capabilities. Antecedents and contextual conditions specific to a sustainability context, such as eco-centric values and stakeholder pressures, influence the development of environmental competences. The study shows that environmental competences have a positive direct effect on environmental performance, and an indirect effect as a mediator between environmental capabilities and performance.

Read this Open Access article online for free



Tulin Dzhengiz & Eva Niesten. 2020. Competences for Environmental Sustainability: A Systematic Review on the Impact of Absorptive Capacity and Capabilities.
Journal of Business Ethics 162(4), 881–906.


Carbon literacy training crossing boundaries in the television industry
Proclaimed the “greenest television programme in the world,” the award-winning soap opera Coronation Street is seen as an industry success story. This paper explores how the integration of carbon literacy training (CLT) led to a widespread transformational change of practice within Coronation Street.

Using the theoretical lens of Communities of Practice (CoP), this study examines the nature of social learning and the enablers and barriers to change within the organisation. Specifically, how boundary spanning practices, objects and people led to the transformation on both a personal and group level.

Based on a qualitative analysis of 22 interviews with Heads of Departments and other staff, the paper argues that CLT is a boundary practice which has evolved into a boundary spanning CoP. The importance of infrastructures supporting boundary objects and practices is highlighted as reinforcers of the CLT, both as a boundary object and a community, with the “ultimate” boundary spanning object being the show.

A significant enabler in social learning and change in practice is the creation of discursive and creative space, both within CoP and across the boundaries. Findings also highlight the role of “self” in the process of social learning and organisational change. Distinct patterns emerged in the relationship between self-identity, social learning and change across a range of boundary objects, practices and communities both in the CLT and CoP.

This suggests that in a diverse social learning setting such as CLT there are different transformational catalysts within the CoP and these identities can influence how knowledge is translated into practice.

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Wendy Chapple, Petra Molthan-Hill, Rachel Welton & Michael Hewitt. 2020. Lights Off, Spot On: Carbon Literacy Training Crossing Boundaries in the Television Industry.
Journal of Business Ethics 162(4), 813–834.