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How to drive social change? Best practices for business leaders and social enterprises

How to drive social change? Best practices for business leaders and social enterprises

Research by academics at the University of Sheffield Management breaks new ground by developing an evidence-based framework to understand how organisations can drive positive social change.

 ute_driven_social-ChangeThe team including Dr Ute Stephan, Dr Malcolm Patterson and Ciara Kelley synthesized 20 years of research published across multiple academic disciplines and including practitioner research. They developed a report as a handbook for organisations, which details specific actions organisations can take to successfully create behaviour change.

 Ute Stephan the lead author of the report says “We highlight 19 mechanisms of behaviour change, showcase different change strategies, and how change projects should be managed. Because our report is based on a systematic review of evidence it includes mechanism and strategies that are known to work. Organisations can use it to develop new strategies or benchmark their current efforts, for instance to pinpoint barriers to delivering social impact.” Although primarily written from the perspective of businesses and social enterprises, the authors believe that non-profits and public sector organisations will also find it useful to consult the social change framework.

The research benefited greatly from its international advisors including Professor Johanna Mair (Stanford University and Hertie School of Governance), Rob Briner (University of Bath), Jo Rick (Manchester University) and managers from Canadian industry leaders. The research could not have been produced without the financial and intellectual assistance of the Network for Business Sustainability (

Interested to learn more?

  • Visit the project website [ust1]
  • Read the report: Stephan, U., Patterson, M. & Kelly, C. (2013). Business-driven social change: A systematic review of the evidence. Network for Business Sustainability. download[US2]
  • Hear Ute Stephan talk through the main findings in a webinar for practitioners (Wednesday, April 10 at 6pm (UK, 1pm EST) or Tuesday, April 16 at 5pm (UK, 12pm EST)).
    Register here:

Click here for a recording of the webinar.


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