06 Responsible leadership in management education: A design-based research study

Saskia Raatz, Dieter Euler


In recent years, the quality of management education in general, and particularly of MBA and Executive MBA programs, has been called into question. There are serious doubts about universities’ ability to give students the competencies they need to deal with complex problems in modern society. One part of the discussion focuses on ethical issues and the process through which students develop values and attitudes. In line with the economic crisis, there has been increasing interest in the development of learners’ attitudes to responsibility.

We report the results of a study that starts with an ambitious and yet ill-structured learning goal in a demanding educational practice area: How can pedagogical interventions in management education be designed to promote learners' attitudes to responsible leadership? As a starting point, there are neither consensual definitions of responsible leadership nor substantial theories available to design promising interventions. De-sign-based research (DBR) provides a structured process to deal with research problems, starting with innovative but imprecisely defined objectives and unknown ways to reach them.

We introduce the DBR design and describe the research process and results from a project conducted at St.Gallen University’s Executive MBA program. In close collaboration with practitioners, interventions evolved through multiple cycles of development, testing and refinement with the pursuit of theory-building and practical innovation.


attitude change; design principles; management education; responsible leadership

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15460/eder.1.1.1028