Fostering the incorporation of sustainable development in higher education. Lessons learned from a change management perspective
Faculty of Law
Science citation index
Journal of cleaner production / Masson. - Science citation index
, p. 189-204
University of Antwerp
In research and literature about integration of sustainable development in higher education, particular attention is given towards barriers for change and critical success factors, mainly with a focus on organisational aspects. Implementation models and integration guidelines are defined in order to guide sustainable development integration in higher education at the level of a single higher education institution. These initiatives look at factors that influence the integration process, however seldom from the perspective of change management and the impact of human factors on organisational change. This paper studies higher education from the perspective of organisational change management and, more specifically, focuses on analysing the human factors in this process: resistance, communication, empowerment and involvement, and organisational culture. A conceptual model, which links human factors to the sustainable development integration process, is presented. The model structures and supports the analysis of this integration process in a higher education institution. It is applied in a specific case study of a Belgian university college. The results indicate that the conceptual model helps to get a profound understanding of human related barriers for integrating sustainable development in higher education, as well as to understand the underlying reasons for these barriers and linkages between them in different stages of the integration process. Another main lesson learned is the importance of continuously supporting ambassadors of sustainable development integration in higher education. These and other insights from the case study are valuable for supporting future integration processes in higher education. Next to that, the model supports scholars to study the integration process of sustainable development and gather profound insights on what and why changes happen. This can trigger individual and collective reflexivity on sustainable development in higher education. Future research includes further improvements and application of the model in other cases. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.