Corporate Sustainability and the Individual: Understanding What Drives Sustainability Professionals as Change Agents

36 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2010 Last revised: 30 May 2014

Wayne Visser

Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

Andrew Crane

University of Bath - School of Management

Date Written: February 25, 2010

Abstract

In the face of overwhelming global challenges like climate change and persistent poverty, can individuals in organizations make a difference? This paper looks at what motivates sustainability managers to devote their time and energies to addressing social, environmental and ethical issues. It is rooted in the literature on the role of individuals as change agents for corporate sustainability, in particular in their capacity as environmental or social ‘champions’. The paper presents in-depth research among sustainability managers, providing a rich, nuanced understanding of different types of sustainability change agents. It identifies four such types – Experts, Facilitators, Catalysts and Activists – and uncovers the pivotal role of values, inspiration, expertise, empowerment, strategic thinking and social contribution as sources of meaning for these purpose-inspired managers. The findings deepen our understanding of the psychological dimensions of corporate sustainability management, and provide a useful tool for improving individual and team performance, enhancing recruitment and retention of sustainability talent, and developing more effective organisational leadership for sustainability.

Keywords: corporate social responsibility, corporate sustainability, change agents, environmental champions, meaning in life, psychology, sustainability managers, values

Suggested Citation

Visser, Wayne and Crane, Andrew, Corporate Sustainability and the Individual: Understanding What Drives Sustainability Professionals as Change Agents (February 25, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1559087 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1559087

Wayne Visser (Contact Author)

Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership ( email )

1 Trumptington Road
Cambridge, CB2 1QA
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.cisl.cam.ac.uk

Andrew Crane

University of Bath - School of Management ( email )

Claverton Down
Bath, BA2 7AY
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.bath.ac.uk/management/faculty/andrew-crane.html

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