An Evolutionary Perspective on Corporate Sustainability Transitions: A Prosocial Approach 1

Michael P. Schlaile, A. Herwix, Kristina Bogner, Paul W.B. Atkins

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Companies can actively contribute to large-scale systemic changes towards more sustainable modes of production and consumption by engaging with their own corporate sustainability transitions. This, however, requires new forms of organisational leadership. In this chapter, we make a three-fold contribution to the question of how this might be realised. First, we apply the multi-level perspective on sustainability transitions to the corporate level and conceptualise how the relational orientation towards reference systems plays a key role when working towards sustainability at five different but interrelated levels. Second, we introduce a prosocial leadership approach that builds on and synthesises work from contextual behavioural science, evolutionary science and cooperation science (especially the work by Elinor Ostrom) into a flexible approach for facilitating cooperation across scales. Third, we highlight how such an approach may help to address some of the challenges arising in corporate sustainability transitions and present case vignettes that show how these approaches are reflected in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of Climate Change Leadership in Organistations
EditorsDoug MacKie
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9781003343011
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


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