Associate Professor Warren Nilsson

POSITION: MPhil Director

QUALIFICATIONS: AB (College Scholar) Cornell; MBA University of Baltimore; Ph.D. (Strategy & Organization) McGill

AREAS OF EXPERTISE: Institutional shifts related to social and environmental sustainability, organizational practices, social innovation



I am an Associate Professor of Social Innovation at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, where I also serve as the Academic Director of the MPhil in Inclusive Innovation program. 

My research focuses on the organizational dynamics of social change. I am particularly interested in the relationship between positive organizing and social innovation. Why are some organizations so good at disrupting previously intractable patterns of behavior, belief, and relationship? How can social purpose organizations develop a sustained capacity for ongoing institutional reimagination? My research exploring the concept of "positive institutional work" has appeared in the Academy of Management Review and the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and I am a faculty affiliate of the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan.

I have a passion for connecting my academic research to practitioner-driven social initiatives and have worked with social purpose organizations in North America, Africa, and South Asia. I am the co-founder of Organization Unbound (, an international community of inquiry and experimentation exploring how social purpose organizations can more closely align their internal practices and cultures with their external social change goals. This practice of "expressive change" is introduced in a short film called "Changing the Way We Change the World," available on YouTube.  Click here to watch.




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