The Role of Sustainability as Ideology in the Collaborative Governance of the European Union


  • Thomas Hoerber Professor, Department of Economics, Law & Society
  • Gabriel Weber Essca, School of Management, Bordeaux, France
  • Ignazio Cabras Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University


This paper explores and examines issues and challenges related to sustainability, analysing the concept as a possible new ideology at a local level and worldwide. More specifically, the paper assesses the influence of sustainability in Europe, where the concept is promoted by grassroots organizations such as Local Agenda 21 (LA21) forums; as well as large political institutions such as the European Union (EU). Using in-depth interviews with 27 experts, we have collected information about sustainability and its role in becoming an ideology with the power of forging and shaping the future of the EU. Findings suggest sustainability could be interpreted as a new and inclusive bottom-up ideology, conceptually different from others e.g. the Marxian meaning of ideology as hegemonic set of ideas proposed by the elite. Promoting sustainability is seen as a raison d’êtreof the EU. Drawing on our findings, we illustrate how EU policymakers can further promote sustainability, which may help to strenghten the EU and confronting EU’s internal threats such as Anti-EU, nationalist, and increasingly xenophobic sentiments.

Author Biographies

Thomas Hoerber, Professor, Department of Economics, Law & Society

Professor, Department of Economics, Law & Society

Gabriel Weber, Essca, School of Management, Bordeaux, France

Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Law & Society

Ignazio Cabras, Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University

Chair in Entrepreneurship and Regional Economic Development


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How to Cite

Hoerber, T., Weber, G., & Cabras, I. (2020). The Role of Sustainability as Ideology in the Collaborative Governance of the European Union. International Public Management Review, 20(2), 25–39. Retrieved from