Experts have been gathering for decades to discuss their ideals and experiences in heritage management. One of their objectives is the search for common ground and the clarification of best practice guidelines, to be endorsed and applied worldwide. However, in the past half-century, the reality and ideals of cultural heritage management have shifted significantly. This paper will reveal and discuss how this shift is evident in the field’s professional guidelines. What triggered this shift in heritage theory? And how did the concept of heritage evolve over the past decades? First, a literature review will discuss current theory on this topic. This is complemented by a comparative analysis of seven key doctrinal documents. The selection ranges from the Venice Charter (ICOMOS, 1964) to the Valletta Principles (ICOMOS, 2011). The content will be systematically analyzed using a descriptiveanalytical method from the narrative tradition in evidence-based policy evaluation research (Pawson 2002 [see reference 26]). Results are presented in a summary matrix, tracing and comparing the evolution of what is considered heritage and why. A correlation of the results will reveal triggers and ideologies behind this shift in the heritage concept over time. It will also provide some recommendations to shape the agendas for research in heritage theory, policy, and practice in relation to heritage management and sustainable development.