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How and Why Can a Strategy of Sustainability be used for Graduate Business Schools in the United States to gain a Competitive Advantage?

BRAUER, DAVID,BEECHER (2015) How and Why Can a Strategy of Sustainability be used for Graduate Business Schools in the United States to gain a Competitive Advantage? Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This paper’s purpose is to contribute to the literature on sustainability, consumer behaviour, competitive advantages, and the Analytic Hierarchy Process. The emphasis is on the interrelationship between these studies and institutions of higher education, hereinafter referred to as IHEs. The question to be researched is “How and why can a strategy of sustainability be used for graduate business schools in the United States to gain competitive advantages?” There has been limited quantitative or qualitative research investigating this topic.
Following a discussion of the impetus of the research, including the theoretical context and significance of it, the rigor and relevance of the project will become self-evident. The paper begins with the background of the research topic and issues facing IHEs. The contextual theme of sustainability is reviewed including the current state of sustainability in business, and in IHEs.
Various concepts of consumer behaviour theory are reviewed with an emphasis on IHEs and the research topic. This paper reviews what is meant by competitive advantages for graduate business schools. The literature review concludes with a discussion on various models for multi-criteria decision-making problems including the Analytical Hierarchy Process, herein after referred to as AHP. A contribution to research is the modification of a section of AHP and demonstrating for the first time its unique use as a diagnostic tool in revealing the magnitude of differences among the audience’s priorities in multiple-criteria decision-making analysis. This modification creates a high definition tool that can be used in various aspects of research. Gaps in the current literature are highlighted as well as areas in need of further research.
The scope for this research has been narrowed to graduate business schools in the United States that are accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, hereinafter referred to as AACSB.
There is a lack of articles in academic journals that address the topic of quantifying the impact of a strategy of sustainability for IHEs. Through the identification of the gaps in the literature and identifying the effects on IHEs that employ a strategy of sustainability, this paper contributes to the literature in these areas. In doing so, this paper shows how answering this question is relevant for graduate business schools.
In practice IHEs may elect to use sustainability to further define their niche and to target their marketing efforts more effectively to a specific population. Sustainability may be able to help create or solidify the brand of an IHE. The findings and recommendations, as well as future research that should be considered, conclude this dissertation. As a result of the research, there is evidence that concludes that sustainability is a relevant criterion for today’s graduate business school student and that IHEs can benefit if they are perceived as authentic in their sustainability efforts. The research also resulted in a new analytical tool that can produce a higher definition of the understanding of consumer perceptions and priorities.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Business Administration
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:30 Nov 2015 11:51

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