Humanistic Management Journal

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 171–198 | Cite as

Self-Sustaining Practices of Successful Social Change Agents: A Retreats Framework for Supporting Transformational Change

Original Research


We advance a framework of three types of “retreats” – reflective, relational, and inspirational – that social change agents can use to sustain themselves through challenges inherent in their work. Retreats are defined as intentionally crafted spaces that provide opportunities for reflective practices, relational presence, and inspirational resources. The retreats framework is based on the experiences of a set of successful social entrepreneurs who have played a prominent role in establishing new organizations at the intersection of business in society. We bridge ideas of humanistic management, integral practice, and positive organizational scholarship to identify and detail the personal practices that enable social change agents to fortify themselves as they work toward establishing new institutions and successfully implementing impactful work over time. Findings from this study suggest that the ability for social change agents to sustain themselves is facilitated through the cultivation of retreats that enable these individuals to persevere through adversity in organizational settings, build resilience, advance personal well-being, contribute to humanity’s welfare, and achieve success in their transformational endeavors.


Social change agents Self-sustaining practices Humanistic management Integral practice Positive organizational scholarship 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Manning School of BusinessUniversity of Massachusetts LowellLowellUSA
  2. 2.Carroll School of ManagementBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA

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