Catalyzing Action on Social and Environmental Challenges: An Integrative Review of Insider Social Change Agents

Katrin Heucher*, Elisa Alt, Sara Soderstrom, Maureen Scully, Ante Glavas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


Urgent societal issues require corporations to make changes and contribute solutions. Insider social change agents are uniquely poised to propel this work. Operating from within their workplaces, they can advance changes that are linked to external social concerns but have purposes distinct from the organization’s core strategies and operations. They undertake mobilization activities, making local moves that aim toward more broadly impactful changes. These efforts form the micro-foundations of organizational approaches to positive social change. We review and integrate five streams in which such insider social change agents have increasingly appeared: employee activism, issue selling, tempered radicalism, micro-corporate social responsibility, and social intrapreneurship. Our framework maps the features of change efforts, with elements of persons, issues, places, activities, and outcomes. With a shared framework, researchers can better characterize the multiplicity of insider change efforts and ascertain how they compare, collaborate, or compete. Research will benefit from taking a more integrative view, especially toward the aim of understanding how local efforts aggregate to broader social impacts. To understand how change is inhibited or supported, future research can theorize blockers of societal change alongside insider social change agents and look to the ecosystem level for reciprocal and amplifying processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-397
Number of pages53
JournalAcademy of management annals
Issue number1
Early online date22 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • Insider social change agents
  • social issues in management
  • Issue selling
  • Micro-CSR
  • Tempered radicalism
  • Employee activism
  • Social intrapreneurship
  • Positive social change
  • Environmental issues

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