In view of the increasing importance attributed to social responsibility and stakeholder relationship management, more universities have expanded their research topics and their educational programs through the years. High attention is dedicated to the dominant principles and values of internal and external relations, to the innovation processes designed to ensure an approach to sustainable development. However, less attention is dedicated to the sustainability governance orientation and to the development of a strong institutional culture of sustainability, which is a key success factor to improve the quality and the image. This article observes the sustainability governance orientation, through the analysis of the information on the websites of three fair groups of universities in the international Top 500-ARWU (Academic Ranking of World Universities) 2015 ranking. The aim is to verify if there is a link between the degree of sustainability culture in the management and the positioning of the universities in the international ranking. In addition, the analysis is compared with self-assessment data carried out by the same universities in terms of performance sustainability through the STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) online platform. As principal consideration, we have noted that the best universities in the ranking have a management approach based on a shared vision of sustainability development of their university leaders, who play an essential role affirming and disseminating a sustainability culture. All this opens broader future implications intended to highlight the importance of management sustainability as a quality improvement factor of universities.
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