A change in leadership triggered a radical transformation of a network organisation of 180 multi-national companies, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Based on 2 years of ethnographic data, we draw on complexity theory and complexity leadership theory to understand how the transformation occurred and continues to drive cross-scale change in the network. We present the chronological narrative of the network evolution and then radical change in leadership. Drivers of the transformation found include decline, loss of relevance, change in membership needs and change in competitive landscape. We found three themes relevant to the organisational transformation including continuous self-organisation, co-evolution and luck.
Amanda Williams is a PhD Candidate at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. She is a member of the Erasmus Research Institute of Management and a Marie Curie Fellow in the Innovation for Sustainability, Initial Training Network. Amanda’s PhD is conducted in collaboration with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD),where she has conducted two years of ethnographic field research.
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