Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Organization & Environment


Sage Publications


School of Science




This is an Authors Accepted Manuscript of:

Haney, A. B., Pope, J., & Arden, Z. (2020). Making it personal: Developing sustainability leaders in business. Organization & Environment, 33(2). doi: 10.1177/1086026618806201

Available here


Sustainability challenges present organizations in many industries with the need to change. Leaders are critical to the process of becoming more sustainable, and yet leading change for sustainability requires new competencies. Learning at an individual level is central to developing new competencies; however, there has been limited focus to date in the literature on corporate sustainability on how leaders can learn to respond to sustainability challenges. In this article, we focus on how managers learn to become sustainability leaders in their organizations by exploring the phenomenon of experiential learning programmes. We do this by interviewing participants and organizers of four programmes about what they learned and how the programmes helped them achieve these learning outcomes. We find that the programmes supported the development of understanding, personal connection, and empowerment to act for sustainability. In particular, making sustainability personal for participants led to deep learning in each of these three areas. We contribute to conversations in the corporate sustainability literature on the potential for individuals within organizations to respond to and connect with sustainability issues in different ways. We also contribute to the literature on education for sustainability and provide practical implications for experiential learning programmes in business and business education.