Diffusion of environmentally beneficial practices is often portrayed as either the result of regulatory action or the heroic leadership of powerful actors within an industry. But, is this characterization accurate or universal? We assert that the transition toward environmentally beneficial practices within an industry is a journey that involves the contributions of numerous stakeholders. When there is no powerful central actor, we maintain that industries can still transition toward environmentally beneficial practices through multiple forms of collective and entrepreneurial action. Drawing from entrepreneurship, sustainability, and institutional theories of change, we analyze and discuss the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard for the commercial building industry. We present theory related to four phases of the transition: 1) initiation of new practices through effectual entrepreneurship, 2) adoption of new practices through voluntary standards, 3) legitimation of new practices through framing, and 4) commercialization of new practices through new market entrants and alternatives. We advance a new perspective on the industry evolution toward more environmentally beneficial practices that illuminates how industry change may be institutionalized through the complementary actions undertaken by diverse actors.
Jones, J., York, J. G., Vedula, S., Conger, M., & Lenox, M. 2019. The Collective Construction of Green Building: Industry Transition Toward Environmentally Beneficial Practices. Academy of Management Perspectives, 33(4): 425–449.