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What It Takes to Lead Sustainability Transitions from the Bottom-Up: Strategic Interactions of Grassroots Ecopreneurs

Author

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  • Mónica Ramos-Mejía

    (Department of Management, School of Economics, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá 110231, Colombia)

  • Alejandro Balanzo

    (School of Government and International Relations, Universidad Externado de Colombia, Bogotá 111711, Colombia)

Abstract

This paper studies features of grassroots ecopreneurs’ leadership in their attempt to ignite transformations in production-consumption systems from the bottom up. It builds on a comprehensive approach of change agency based on institutional work, innovation, and learning intermediation literature. The paper describes grassroots ecopreneurs’ interaction strategies to resource business models for sustainability. Empirical data comes from an action research project that consisted of implementing a sustainability experiment in Sur de Bolívar (Colombia). The experiment shows grassroots ecopreneurs’ arrays of activities around making sense, shaping, securing support, nurturing, expanding, and scaling the value proposition, the business infrastructure, the customer interface and the financial model of their ventures. Our findings suggest that leading businesses transition into a more sustainable field requires grassroots ecopreneurs acting as change agents by performing a diverse array of boundary, practice, and knowledge circulation strategies, aiming at securing the societal and environmental impact of their ventures. Change agency manifests in the ways ecopreneurs maneuver to bring about transformations and strive to sustain it. The study contributes to a better understanding of processes of socio-technical change for sustainability in highly diverse institutional contexts, such as (but not exclusively) the developing world. An agency-based approach is proposed as an alternative to a managerial approach.

Suggested Citation

  • Mónica Ramos-Mejía & Alejandro Balanzo, 2018. "What It Takes to Lead Sustainability Transitions from the Bottom-Up: Strategic Interactions of Grassroots Ecopreneurs," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(7), pages 1-20, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:7:p:2294-:d:155888
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    3. Katariina Koistinen & Satu Teerikangas, 2021. "The Debate If Agents Matter vs. the System Matters in Sustainability Transitions—A Review of the Literature," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 13(5), pages 1-32, March.

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