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Sustainability segmentation of business students: Toward self-regulated development of critical and interpretational competences in a post-truth era

Lambrechts, Wim, Ghijsen, Paul W.Th., Jacques, Ann, Walravens, Hilde, Van Liedekerke, Luc, Van Petegem, Peter
Journal of cleaner production 2018 v.202 pp. 561-570
attitudes and opinions, business enterprises, business management, higher education, learning, marketing, students, surveys, sustainable development, uncertainty
This article adds insights in students' attitudes toward sustainability, with specific focus on students in business management/marketing. It builds upon a number of conceptual interpretations and barriers for change in higher education for sustainable development, followed by the concept of sustainability competences and the students’ perspectives. A segmentation study is developed in order to frame the variety of student dispositions of sustainability attitudes, based on a survey among 458 students in business management/marketing. Four different segments of students are discovered, according to their attitudes toward sustainability issues: moderate problem solvers; pessimistic non-believers; optimistic realists; and convinced individualists. The results of the segmentation study reveal that a one-fit-for-all approach in acquiring sustainability competences is not feasible. This calls for a diversity in approaches to prepare students in dealing with the complexity and uncertainty of sustainability issues, oriented toward more self-regulated learning, and developing critical and interpretational competences.