"Ignorance was bliss, now I'm ignorant and that is far more difficult": transdisciplinary learning and reflexivity in responsible management education

Carole Parkes, John Blewitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – The collapse of world economic systems brought the interconnectedness between business and global events sharply into focus. As Starkey points out: “leading business schools need to overcome their fascination with a particular form of finance and economics […] to broaden their intellectual horizons […] (and to) look at the lessons of history and other disciplines”. The purpose of this paper is to provide evidence from three years of research on the Aston MBA suggesting that an emphasis on developing capabilities within a far broader, connected and reflexive business curriculum is what business students and practitioners now recognise as an essential way forward for responsible management education.
Design/methodology/approach – This research paper examines the reflective accounts of 300 MBA students undertaking a transdisciplinary Business Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability core module.
Findings – As Klein argues, transdisciplinarity is simultaneously an attitude and a form of action. The student reflections provide powerful discourses of individual learning and report a range of outcomes from finding “the vocabulary or the confidence” to raise issues to acting as “change agents” in the workplace.
Originality/value – As responsibility and sustainability requires learners, researchers and educators to engage with real world complexity, uncertainty and risk, conventional disciplinary study, especially within business, often proves inadequate and partial. This paper demonstrates that creative and exploratory frames need to be developed to facilitate the development of more connected knowledge – informed by multiple stakeholders, able to contribute heterogeneous skills, perspectives and expertise.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-221
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Global Responsibility
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Bibliographical note

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  • responsible management education
  • United Kingdom
  • transdisciplinarity reflection
  • sustainability
  • learning
  • ethics


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