Taking lead for sustainability: Environmental managers as institutional entrepreneurs
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2021
Over the past two decades, sustainability professionals have entered the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. However, little attention has been given to the actual professionalization processes of these and the leadership conducted by them when shaping the pace and direction for sustainable development. With the aim to explore how the role of sustainability professionals develops, critical events affecting everyday sustainability work practices were identified. Based on a phenomenological study with focus on eight experienced environmental managers’ life stories, and by applying the theoretical lens of institutional entrepreneurship, the study displays a professionalization process in six episodes. Different critical events both enabled and disabled environmental managers’ opportunity to engage in institutional entrepreneurship. The findings indicate how agency is closely interrelated to temporary discourses in society; they either serve to support change and create new institutional practices towards enhanced sustainability or disrupt change when agency to act is temporarily “lost”. To manage a continually changing environment, environmental managers adopt different strategies depending on the situated context and time, such as finding ambassadors and interorganizational allies, mobilizing resources, creating organizational structures, and repositioning themselves.