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How to Drive Social Change Webinar

This webinar, How to Drive Social Change, features insights from researcher Ute Stephan, lead author of the NBS’s research on business-driven social change. Stephan introduces the business-driven social change framework, developed from 123 applied and academic studies from 1992 to 2012, containing the most comprehensive and credible evidence on the subject. The framework presents three conditions necessary for social change: motivation, capability and opportunity.


Business-Driven Social Change in Practice

Following the framework introduction, Stephan provides examples of corporate leaders who successfully drove social change through business. Examples include:

  • Sainsbury’s: A traffic-light labelling system to improve consumer eating habits

  • Nike: Exercise tracking fuel bands to encourage physical activity

  • Unilever: Glow Germ presentations to increase hand-washing and lower the spread of disease in developing countries

  • Tim Hortons: Partnership with a NGO to improve coffee growing practices and standard of living for coffee famersParticipants learn how these companies organized projects to successfully deliver social change, provide feedback on the framework, and share their own challenges implementing social change.

One challenge addressed is the difficulty in creating immediate action when benefits may be long-term, e.g. with climate change. In response, Stephan recommends companies focus on specific actions people can apply on a daily basis – small, incremental steps towards the solution. Companies must also be careful. They must ensure credibility of their efforts to distance themselves from “green-washing.”

By creating social change, companies can differentiate their product or service, relieve social pressures, and benefit financially. “Research shows over and over again, there is a financial reason to engage in social change projects”.

A Framework for Business-Driven Social Change

Following the webinar, NBS released, “Driving Social Change: A Systematic Review of the Evidence,” and “Driving Social Change: Best Practices for Business Leaders and Social Entrepreneurs.” These reports outline the three conditions necessary for in driving behavioural change that results in benefits for society. The work also outlines 19 mechanisms companies can use to motivate people to change, create the capabilities necessary for change, and deliver opportunities for change.


Questions asked by participants and answered by professor Ute Stephan during the webinar are posted in the comment section below.

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