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Who's influencing whom? Developing sustainable business partnerships

Simon Adderley (Centre for Labour Market Development, University of Chester, Chester, UK)
Duane Mellor (Department of Clinical Sciences and Nutrition, University of Chester, Chester, UK)

EuroMed Journal of Business

ISSN: 1450-2194

Article publication date: 29 April 2014




Recently David Jones in Who Cares Wins proposed sustainability as being essential for businesses success over the coming decades. The purpose of this paper is to present a case study of the development of a partnership between an environmental non-government organisation (NGO) (world wildlife fund-UK) and a major retailer (Marks and Spencer). The partnership developed three “types”, sponsorship, technical and communication partnerships.


A grounded theory approach was taken; information was gathered using semi-structured interviews. Data from these interviews were then triangulated with corporate materials to allow generalisations to develop.


Through the three “types” of partnership themes of conflict and project drift were identified, although the overarching “Plan A” commitment is seen as a potential exemplar in sustainability. Difficulties were identified with respect to the dissemination of the outputs from the partnership, some of which were too complex, where others appeared to change to be more appealing to the consumer.

Social implications

Although a single case study, it highlights the challenges and benefits to both partners. As such, it provides insight into the practical issues of delivering sustainability commitments and projects in partnership. Such approaches are critical not only for the viability of business, but also for the long-term health of our planet.


This represents a case study of the development of a sustainable partnership between a large corporate and an NGO, which could represent a template for sustainable business. This paper in responds to the growing demand for such case-study examples.



Adderley, S. and Mellor, D. (2014), "Who's influencing whom? Developing sustainable business partnerships", EuroMed Journal of Business, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 60-74.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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