Have you tried this? Co-constructing and accessing a repertoire of implementation for moral mandates
This paper focuses on the problem of how change agents advance the implementation of moral mandates, such as calls for organizations to be sustainable, to be ethical, or to manage diversity or equality. There are reasons to theorize why these types of efforts bring about challenges that do not conform to our existing scholarly understandings of change implementation – they are largely brought to the fore by stakeholders rather than organizational leaders, demand broad and systemic change without clearly associated practices, and are often not seen as operationally advantageous. Through a mixed-methods study, we analyze multiple types of data on efforts to advance sustainability in higher education to understand how change agents attempt to overcome the challenges of implementing moral mandates. Key to our findings is the role that a dedicated online form, which we term a cross-organizational discursive space, plays in the change implementation process. We find that on this forum change agents co-construct a shared vision of the future, and subsequently develop and refine a repertoire for implementation which reflects shared practices and strategies for advancing the moral mandate. After uncovering these interactions, we test whether or not change agents’ access to the repertoire for implementation in our case increases their likelihood of implementing sustainability within their individual organizations, and find that it indeed does. This paper contributes an understanding of the value of cross-organizational discursive spaces in enabling change agents to progress from initial organizational commitments to moral mandates through to implementing concrete changes to advance them.
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