Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon

BA MCom DipTour PGCertTertT PhD(Otago)

Sara Walton image (2023)Professor
Room: OBS 707
Tel: +64 3 479 5108

I teach and research in the area of sustainability, climate change and business in the Department of Management at the Otago Business School, University of Otago. I also carry out roles including Acting Associate Dean Research, Deputy Dean of the Otago Business School, director of the Master of Sustainable Business programme and Co-Director of He Kaupapa Hononga Otago's Climate Change Research Network.

My key areas of expertise include: carbon footprints, industry readiness for climate change, innovation for environmental sustainability, sustainable and low carbon transitions, analysing and understanding environmental conflicts and researching work in changing futures. I have published widely in management academic journals and have a regular column on sustainable business in the local newspaper ( ODT ) and is also regularly featured in media on climate, sustainability and business.

I enjoy applied research and have been involved in externally funded  inter-disciplinary projects for many years. For some background I have been involved in:

  • The Energy Cultures programme responsible for understanding energy cultures of SME s and business in NZ .
  • Leading a team of researchers on an Australian Aid funded project to Vanuatu to understand energy transitions.
  • Contracted by OceanaGold to explore land use and 'common grounds' surrounding the Macraes Gold Mine.
  • Working with BRANZ on a get Ready for Climate Change project with construction companies.

My current projects include:

  • Being science leader on an Endeavour project called Āmiomio Aotearoa a circular economy for the wellbeing of NZ .
  • Part of the Building NZ 's Innovation Culture team with the Science for Technological Innovation National Science Challenge ( NSC ).
  • Working with MOTU on a Just Transitions Guide for MBIE . Working with a team on a MPI / FMAG funded project to understand company decisions around offsetting or abatement of GHG emissions.
  • Investigator on a project with the XRB examining the effectiveness of Climate Risk Disclosures.
  • Collaborating with Stuff to keep producing the Climate Action Report Card.

Teaching responsibilities

Sara's teaching responsibilities include:

Research interests

  • Examining ecopreneurial businesses in New Zealand
  • Social enterprise and for-benefit organisations
  • Business responses to climate change
  • Understanding natural resource based conflicts and analysing triple bottom line (TBL) company reports
  • Constructions of sustainability

Current supervisions

Sara is currently supervising the following students:


Sally Blackwell - Middle-out change in the New Zealand housing performance sector. (Supervisors: Janet Stephenson, CSAFE; Sara Walton; Rebecca Ford, VUW)

Nana Bortsie-Aryee - Water Footprinting: Theory to Reality – Building competitive advantage around water. (Supervisors: Sara Walton, Conor O'Kane, Peter Fennessy) - under examination

Cle-Anne Gabriel (2015). Renewable energy start-up businesses: Typology and critical success factors in transitioning countries. (Supervisors: Beth Rose, Sara Walton, Jodyanne Kirkwood)

David McKay (2014). Identifying and describing how environmental education is conceptualised and practiced among New Zealand Māori. (Supervisors: Hugh Campbell, Sara Walton, Jim Williams)

Babak Zahraie (2017). Green Entrepreneurs: Change Agents towards Sustainability. (Supervisors: André Everett, Sara Walton, Jodyanne Kirkwood)


Angela Howell - What will make business operations in NZ SMEs more energy efficient?

Letisha Nicholas (in conjunction with the Centre for Sustainability)


Abbe Hyde

Other responsibilities

Sara's other responsibilities include:

  • Divisional Representative on the University Environmental Sustainability Advisory Group


Walton, S. (2024, April). Transforming business practices for sustainability. University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. [Inaugural Professorial Lecture]. Other Research Output

Walton, S., & Walters, T. (2023). The practice of science for technological innovation: Learnings and implications for Te Ara Paerangi. Policy Quarterly, 19(4), 86-94. Journal - Research Article

Gehricke, S., Poyser, A., & Walton, S. (2023). A market survey to ascertain offsetting demand. Commissioned by Forestry Ministerial Advisory Group. Dunedin, New Zealand: Climate Energy and Finance Group, University of Otago. 35p. Commissioned Report for External Body

Walton, S., Lord, J. M., Lord, A. J., & Kahui, V. (2023). Conflicts between being a “good farmer” and freshwater policy: A New Zealand case study [In the field report]. Agriculture & Human Values. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s10460-023-10471-1 Journal - Research Article

Diprose, G., Lee, L., Blumhardt, H., Walton, S., & Greenaway, A. (2023). Reducing single use packaging and moving up the waste hierarchy. Kōtuitui, 18(3), 268-289. doi: 10.1080/1177083X.2022.2154230 Journal - Research Article

Back to top