Exploring Student Perceptions of the Hidden Curriculum in Responsible Management Education

Catharina Høgdal, Andreas Rasche*, Dennis Schoeneborn, Levinia Scotti

*Corresponding author for this work

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This exploratory study analyzes the extent of alignment between the formal and hidden curricula in responsible management education (RME). Based on case study evidence of a school that has signed the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), we found poor alignment between the school’s explicit RME claims and students’ lived experiences. While the formal curriculum signaled to students that RME was important, the school’s hidden curriculum sent a number of tacit messages that led students to question the relevance and applicability of responsible management. The tacit messages that students received occurred along three “message sites” related to (a) how the formal curriculum was delivered, (b) how students and lecturers interacted, and (c) how the school was governed. On the basis of these findings we develop a proposition that can guide further research in this area, i.e., the connotative level of language use is an important site of misalignments between what lecturers say in relation to RME (e.g., in a syllabus) and how students interpret the meaning of their lecturers’ words. We also discuss further implications of our findings for strengthening the alignment between schools’ formal RME claims and their hidden curriculum.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)173-193
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online: 7. June 2019


  • Responsible management education
  • Business education
  • Hidden curriculum
  • PRME
  • Classroom practices

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