Professionalization and institutional change: a study of an emerging sustainability profession

Due to the sustainability agenda there are today signs of a reconfiguration of practices and institutions in the construction industry, which in turn gives rise to changed interrelations between professional groupings leading to new (as well as fading) and/or changed professions and roles. Being creators, carriers and executors of the sustainability agenda, sustainability professionals have taken an increasingly important role in shaping the pace and direction of the construction industry´s sustainable development. However, there are also signs of these professionals struggling to find a role and identity among traditional built environment professionals. Professionalization and professionalism has thus become a key mechanism for sustainable development within the industry. The purpose of the proposed research project is to explore professionalization processes, professional roles and practices, as mechanisms of institutionalization towards enhanced sustainability. Adopting institutional work as a theoretical lens, we study institutional dynamics from an agentic and practice-oriented perspective, a theoretical approach suggested as viable for understanding the interrelation between professionalization and broader patterns of institutional change. The project is performed in collaboration with industry and strives to develop an interdisciplinary theoretical framework with the purpose of supporting both built environment professionals as well as future studies within the field.

Start date 02/01/2017
End date 31/03/2020
​Due to the sustainability agenda there are today signs of a reconfiguration of practices and institutions in the construction industry, which in turn gives rise to changed interrelations between professional groupings leading to new (as well as fading) and/or changed professions and roles. Being creators, carriers and executors of the sustainability agenda, sustainability professionals have taken an increasingly important role in shaping the pace and direction of the construction industry´s sustainable development. 

Professionalization and professionalism has become a key mechanism for sustainable development within the industry. The purpose of the proposed research project is to explore professionalization processes, professional roles and practices, as mechanisms of institutionalization towards enhanced sustainability. Adopting institutional work as a theoretical lens, we study institutional dynamics from an agentic and practice-oriented perspective, a theoretical approach suggested as viable for understanding the interrelation between professionalization and broader patterns
of institutional change.
Project leader
​Pernilla Gluch

Funded by

  • Formas (Public, Sweden)

Published: Thu 31 May 2018.