In recent years, the companies’ concern over the management effects on the available resources has been growing, and has set the agenda of numerous social and economic agents. Among them, and focusing on the field of companies management, the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM), responsible of the reference model for the European organizations seeking excellence, in its last revision (2010) incorporates the issue of sustainability in three evident ways: (i) the replacement of the earlier concept of management excellence, for "sustainable excellence" concept, (ii) the incorporation among their fundamental principles of "take responsibility for a sustainable future" criteria, and (iii) linking this principle with the nine criteria of EFQM model.
However, we believe that this concern has not been adequately reflected in the design of the degrees more closely linked to business management. Specifically, in the Business Administration degrees offered by Spanish universities, business sustainability (BS) has generally been excluded from the competences of the degree. On the contrary, in the Business School of Vitoria-Gasteiz (UPV/EHU) BS has been a primary objective in the design of the Degree in Business Management and Administration. From a teaching and research point of view there is a significant and multidisciplinary group of lecturers committed to BS. This multidisciplinary group has been the key promoter of the following initiatives: (a) the real inclusion and effective coordination of the BS competence, coordinated together with the rest of degree competences, at all degree levels (including by subject and by module), (b) the offer of a new minor (learning itinerary) focusing especially on BS, (c) the development of collaborative research proposals with other agents on issues linked to BS, and (d) the future implementation of an innovative educational project aiming at the monitoring and evaluation of the actual development of BS competence in the new Business Management and Administration Degree.
Precisely, the process of implementation and development of this Degree has shown the absence of a clear definition of BS, and the high complexity associated with it. Thus, the aim of this work is to reach a clear and precise definition of BS, through two principal tools: (a) conducting a literature review, with an intense and continuous debate about its scope and, (b) the analysis of school lecturer´s perceptions on this topic, as they will be the responsible of the development and evaluation of this competence.
We believe that it is not possible to develop effectively a competence if there is not an agreed definition of it. Under this premise, this paper generates three main results: (i) a clear and implementable definition of BS, (ii) the elaboration and qualitative analysis of a questionnaire sent to school lecturers to analyze their perception about BS concept, and (iii) the obtaining of an operational concept of BS competence.