Abstract for: The wanting–doing gap: Overcoming intra- and inter-organizational traps for sustainability transformations

Why do we see so few high impact actions that transform markets and organizations towards sustainability, despite evidence of successful efforts? At-hand explanations of intra- and inter-organizational challenges like “greenwashing” or limited opportunities of creating long-term value fall short. Here, building on existing research, we shift focus to dynamic challenges that constrain action for intra- and inter-organizational (within market-level) transformations. Central to our explanations are the dynamics around building capabilities for sustainability to replace established, unsustainable, practices and associated worse-before-better dynamics. While organizations tend to focus on low hanging fruit, these efforts still build on conventional approaches, routines, technologies, etc. Instead, scaling up or expanding ambitious efforts with real impact affect the entire organization, or involve multiple organizations, and require actual transformational efforts that organizations find difficult to recognize and undertake. We highlight dynamic implications of our findings and identify key challenges on the company-individual and collective levels for large-scale transformation.