Corporate Change Agents for Sustainability: Transforming Organizations from the Inside Out

Stefan Schaltegger*, Verena Girschik, Hannah Trittin-Ulbrich, Ilka Weissbrod

*Corresponding author for this work

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Sustainable development requires sustainability transformations of (so far unsustainable) companies. Sustainability transformations of companies do not happen by themselves but are the result of individuals and groups who purposefully act for sustainability. It is individual managers and employees within an organization—so-called “change agents for sustainability”—who play a vital role in advancing corporate sustainability, as they are responsible for starting initiatives, making decisions, and implementing measures. Recent contributions have started to address the transformational role of individual sustainability professionals and employees shaping decisions around social and environmental issues in organizations. An overview and conceptualization of what can be understood by change agents for sustainability, their roles, and interactions is however missing. This article therefore proposes a framework and typology of six archetypes of change agents for sustainability: their key competencies and roles in initiating, scaling, and sustaining change in and beyond organizational boundaries.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness Ethics, the Environment and Responsibility
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)145-156
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Published online: 26 December 2023.


  • Ecological/Sustainability
  • Leaders/Leadership
  • Managers
  • Organizational

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