Moral Entrepreneurship: Thinking and Acting at the Landscape Level to Foster Sustainability Transitions

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Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions


This research contributes to an important yet overlooked theme in sustainability transitions scholarship: the role of normative deliberation in large-scale systemic change. We adopt the term “moral entrepreneur” to describe the deliberate efforts to change institutionalized moral norms, and thus foster sustainability transitions. We adopt an interdisciplinary approach and, by drawing on the institutional lens, synthesize the multi-level perspective from sustainability transitions studies with the scholarship on discursive action from organization and management studies to explore the mechanisms by which moral entrepreneurs contribute to transformative change. Based on an analysis of the creation of the American national parks in the early 20th century and specifically John Muir’s role therein, we argue that moral entrepreneurs trigger landscape level changes by gradually disassociating rules and practices from their moral foundations through engaging in a macro-systemic discourse.



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