The Professional Logic of Sustainability Managers: Finding Underlying Dynamics

Journal of Business Ethics 182 (1):59-76 (2021)
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Abstract

The role of the Sustainability Manager (SM) is expanding. Whether SMs are turning into a new profession is under debate. Pointing to the need for a distinct professional logic to qualify as a profession, we identify what is contained within a professional logic of SMs. Through analyzing ambiguities present in the role of the SMs, we show that there is no specific distinct professional logic of SMs, but rather a meta-construct building on market, bureaucratic, and sustainability logics. In addition, we point to the complex configurations of and relationships between these underlying logics. The complexities also explain why the SMs differ from traditional professions and why it is problematic to talk about a ‘SM profession’. Rather, SMs are ‘organizational professionals’. The article builds on 21 interviews with SMs working for Swedish companies.

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