Warren Nilsson


Associate Professor of Social Innovation

University of Cape Town

Warren Nilsson is an Associate Professor of Social Innovation at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business and a faculty associate of the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation.

His research focuses on the organizational dynamics of social change. He is 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? His research defining the concept of “positive institutional work” has appeared in the Academy of Management Review. He has written about the connection between social innovation and experiential surfacing (“inscaping”) in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Nilsson has worked with social purpose organizations in North America, Africa, and South Asia and has a passion for connecting his academic research to practitioner-driven social initiatives. He is 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.

He holds a PhD in Management from McGill University, an MBA from the University of Baltimore, and a BA from Cornell University.