Understanding the Role of Courage and Phronesis in the Strategy Work of Sustainability Professionals

Igor Pyrko, Gary Thomas Burke, Bimal Arora, Divya Jyoti, Omid Omidvar

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Scholars have turned their attention to the notion of ‘radical sustainability’, which entails reorganizing organizations around sustainable values rather than treating sustainability as an add-on to ‘business as usual’. Calls for radical sustainability are seen as urgent in the turbulent world affected by grand challenges and wicked problems. However, the implementation of sustainability strategies is obstructed by tensions with mainstream strategies traditionally concerned with efficiency and profitability. We argue that these tensions can be unpacked and understood better by investigating sustainability professionals’ courage as everyday experience, which they must have and employ to carry on with their strategy work. Building on MacIntyre's virtue ethics, we present courage as a ‘virtue’ requiring delicate balancing acts through practical judgements and fine sensing of the situations for the right moment to push the sustainability agenda forward incrementally. Such practical judgments, we argue, are affected by the multi-stakeholder interests and pressures as well as internal mainstream business priorities that complexify sustainability professionals’ work.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Early online date6 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • General Medicine


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