Research Handbook of Sustainability Agency
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Research Handbook of Sustainability Agency

Edited by Satu Teerikangas, Tiina Onkila, Katariina Koistinen and Marileena Mäkelä

This innovative Research Handbook answers crucial questions about how individuals and organisations can make a difference towards sustainability. Offering an integrative perspective on sustainability agency, it reviews individual, active, organisational and relational forms of sustainability agency, demonstrating the capacity of individuals and organisations to act toward sustainable futures.
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Chapter 9: Sustainability activism: a review of the state of the art

Marileena Mäkelä and Laura Olkkonen


Abstract: Activism has long driven sustainability, but lately it has developed into new forms where various new actors such as shareholders, employees and chief executive officers (CEOs) engage in the phenomenon. We aim for a broad understanding of the current state of sustainability activism by reviewing 30 leading journals in the fields of accounting, management and sustainability. Our analysis focuses on defining the different types of activism in terms of the actors, targets, issues addressed and means applied. The results show that activism has come a long way from being understood as just a tug of war between non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and companies. Sustainability activism is currently a broad phenomenon where different actors aim to transform businesses externally and internally. Especially activism by internal actors such as employees and CEOs is a relatively new phenomenon that deserves the attention of future studies.

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