Building Networks and Partnerships: Volume 3

Cover of Building Networks and Partnerships
Subject:

Table of contents

(17 chapters)

List of Contributors

Pages vii-viii
Content available
Content available
Purpose

This chapter introduces the volume’s theme by considering how the forces of globalization and complexity are leading organizations to reshape and redesign themselves, how meeting the challenges of sustainable effectiveness and shared value require multiorganization networks and partnerships, and how networks and partnerships develop, function, and can produce both private benefits and public goods.

Design/methodology/approach

We apply findings from social and political evolution frameworks, partnership and collaboration research, and design for sustainability concepts to induce the likely conditions required for sustainable effectiveness from a network perspective.

Findings

Successful partnerships and collaborations in service of sustainable effectiveness will require individual organizations to change their objective function and build new and varied internal and external capabilities.

Originality/value

The chapter sets the stage for the volume’s contributions.

Purpose

The purpose of this chapter was to describe the development of an early childhood learning network and to understand that development through the lens of complexity theory and trans-organization development. It explores the unfolding dynamics and emerging meaning that became central to facilitating the design, development, and implementation of the complex multi-stakeholder network.

Design

The chapter identifies 12 implications from complexity theory for practitioners of trans-organization development, and then applies those implications to the process and understanding of development stages of an NP’s early childhood education network.

Findings

The use of complexity theory as a framework allowed for identifying five key observations and conclusions, in particular the significant role that meaning-making dialogue holds as a driver of common understanding and engagement among stakeholders. Additionally, the use of building responsive processes, understanding contextual shift, impact of power as an attractor pattern, and capacity of flexibility and adaptability all become essential elements of complex network leadership.

Originality and value

The findings of this chapter will help trans-organization development practitioners and leaders alike. Both the implications and lessons learned will assist in building the capacity of leaders and practitioners as a means of improving effectiveness in dealing with emerging dynamics and leading in unknown contexts and complex contexts environments.

Purpose

This chapter argues that organizations are not sustainable if they operate in unsustainable societal and ecological contexts, and that operating in a way that contributes to the health of the larger system requires organizations to develop new capabilities. It demonstrates the role that rich internal and external networks play in developing sustainability capability particularly in providing pathways to generate, import, apply, and disseminate knowledge about how to operate more sustainably.

Design/methodology/approach

The case study of the sustainability transition of Cleveland Clinic is based on four years of interviews and archival data collection examining the system’s transformational change that began in 2007. The case focuses on the building of sustainability capability, including an internal infrastructure to focus the organization on this outcome, and building of rich networks for learning and action. The case is framed with capability and network theory.

Findings

Guided and catalyzed by a small central group called the Office for a Healthy Environment, Cleveland Clinic has achieved measurable progress in key strategic focuses including waste diversion, energy efficiency, and increasing integration of local foods into its supply chain. To do so, it has developed strong internal networks to disseminate knowledge and accelerate innovation and adoption of sustainable practices. Strong, dynamic external networks have enabled Cleveland Clinic to import knowledge about sustainable practice from its environment, and have enabled it to help build the sustainability capability of its vendors, the community upon which it depends, and the health-care industry.

Originality/value

Starting with the perspective that the sustainability of an organization depends on the sustainability of the ecosystems in which it exists, this chapter focuses not on the design of specific sustainability initiatives, but on the dynamic networks that underpin the capability to simultaneously improve the health of the organization and of the larger ecosystem. This perspective provides insight into new organizing principles.

Purpose

This chapter explores the evolution of a network, initially based on providing sustainable seafood through Loblaw’s supply chain, to a network that is collectively working to improve ocean health. It describes the role of the CEO and key managers, the internal changes taken by Loblaw to become a more sustainable organization, and the external partnering that resulted in a more coherent network with shared goals.

Design

The chapter describes models and theories of sustainable organizations, issue nets, and collaboration and then applies the concepts to understand Loblaw’s sustainability journey and the creation of a network.

Findings

The model of the evolution to a sustainable organization is extended to include the journey to sustainable issue or domain networks. What Loblaw and the partnering organizations were able to create suggests that there are increasing levels of collaboration around changing a domain, if there is the courage to take a leap of faith and increase an organization’s time horizon beyond immediate financial demands.

Originality and value

The findings of this chapter will help senior executives with responsibility for shifting supply chains to become more sustainable. In addition, this case provides a new level of detail in describing the journey to sustainability, shifting from a company focus to an issue focus.

Purpose

This chapter focuses on an innovative effort in the Italian context in which a complex web of partnerships was created as the foundation of an alternative model of health care. More specifically, the start-up of a health-care organization – Welfare Italia Servizi (WIS) – is analyzed and discussed with respect to its sustainability.

Design/methodology/approach

The process of organizing a sustainable health care is analyzed through the theoretical lenses of multi-stakeholders management and partnership perspectives.

The possibility of developing dense knowledge about the WIS’s case has stemmed from our collaboration with the organization board with regard to a research process intended to monitor the organizational start-up and its sustainability challenges.

Findings

The case provides new insights into the dynamic nature of building multi-stakeholder partnership in a complex environment; the developmental life-cycle challenge of multi-stakeholder partnership, and the meaning of sustainability. The case suggests a tapestry of issues such as how sustainability may be “paradoxical,” dynamic, led by different and sometimes conflicting logics, and changeable over time like a growing tree in an intricate forest.

Originality/value

The case can stimulate learning and discussions both within the community of practitioners and the community of academics with respect to which promising conditions could help address the challenge of starting-up a sustainable organization in the health-care field.

Purpose

This chapter explores the potential roles and contributions of “marginal stakeholders” in sustainability collaborations. A group of smaller and less powerful NGOs engaged in a three-year collaboration to build capacity and drive action to address the severe water situation in Beijing, China. That the NGOs were the primary driver of the collaboration provides a unique opportunity to explore and understand whether and how the less powerful constituents of a network can organize to influence such broad, complex, and challenging issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The case study is the result of a participant action research effort. The author served as researcher, observer, participant, and consultant during different phases of the collaboration.

Findings

Individual members and the network as a whole demonstrated increased capacity and capability, but mostly failed to drive action. By themselves, small and marginal stakeholders have limited capacity or capability to effect large-scale sustainability efforts. With coaching, development, and a shared agenda, they may emerge as a force for change, but there are significant hurdles to overcome.

Practical implications (if applicable)

The successes and failures of a steering committee formed early in the collaboration provide concrete guidelines for anyone who wants to help marginal stakeholders play change agent roles in complex networks.

Originality/value

Very little is known about the role of “marginal” or “fringe” stakeholders in network collaborations. This case demonstrates the potential contribution of these stakeholders but also identifies the hazards associated with their participation.

Purpose

In light of the current state of organization of public service provision and the growing importance of civil society in this area, this chapter examines the importance of an appropriate governance concept. This chapter argues that cooperation between organizations can be a key success factor and at the same time be regarded as an applied governance practice and the link between theoretical considerations and practical implementation.

Design

The chapter describes the theoretical and conceptual ties between cooperation and governance. Based on an organizational development project, the potential applications and their implementations are illustrated.

Findings

Based on theoretical considerations, practical research, and demonstrated using a case study, some factors of success of collaboration are identified. Using these success factors as a framework, the concrete case study is reviewed and conclusions for interventions and the behavior of consultants are named.

Originality and value

The findings of this chapter can serve scientists but especially practitioners such as senior executives, managers or organization development (OD) experts as helpful guidelines and orientations when it comes to implement sustainable organizational solutions cooperatively in the field of public governance. In addition to the illustration of practical applied essential process and implementation steps, the chapter provides conceptual information for the anchoring of sustainable development in cooperative relations in the field of public governance.

Purpose

This chapter examines public versus private sector roles in addressing CSR/Sustainability issues in the United States. It provides an historical perspective on the primacy of market-driven corporate practice in the United States and recent moves by the state to “balance” private and public interests through both regulatory and non-regulatory means. A typology of government and business roles, based on “who leads” and “who makes the rules,” illustrates shared governance of CSR/Sustainability in a variety of multisector and public–private partnerships.

Design/methodology/approach

Case studies examine how the U.S. government interacts with business and NGOs and its varied roles in the shared governance of sustainability. Examples from field interviews with business leaders in global operator General Electric (Global Business Initiative on Human Rights), apparel maker-and-seller Patagonia (Aquatic “Hitchhikers”), electronics retailer Best Buy (product recycling), IBM (global corporate volunteering), and others illustrate varieties of shared governance between business and the state in operation today.

Findings

Depending on “who leads” and “who makes the rules,” there are variations in whether responsible actions by the private sector are regulatory versus voluntary and whether government’s role involves mandating, partnering, facilitating, or endorsing private sector efforts. Successful shared governance depends on business’s “license to cooperate” and the multiple parties’s sharing responsibility for their goals, operations, and results.

Originality/value

There is a substantial literature on multi-business CSR-related networks and on business–NGO partnerships. Less attention has been given to the role of governments in this space, particularly in the United States where, partly for historical reasons, a company’s relationship with and obligations to society have been regarded as discretionary more so than regulatory activity and where government intervention in markets and in the affairs of companies has been sharply resisted, particularly by business interests, and is suspect among the citizenry.

Purpose

This chapter examines the case studies in this volume with a focus on concepts and methods used in the study of multi-organization networks and partnerships, motivations to join in multi-party collaboration, how multi-organization collaborations organized and managed, what kinds of value are created by collaborations, and the role of leadership therein.

Design/methodology/approach

A comparative look at four vertical networks (in health care and education); two “issue” networks/partnerships (sustainable seafood and water use); and the roles of government in collaboration in horizontal, vertical, and issue-based arrangements.

Findings

The chapter describes “lessons” learned about building both sustainability and collaborative capabilities in and across partnering organizations and about improving partnership structures, processes, and results.

Originality/value

The chapter sums and synthesizes the volume’s contributions.

Cover of Building Networks and Partnerships
DOI
10.1108/S2045-0605(2013)3
Publication date
2013-07-25
Book series
Organizing for Sustainable Effectiveness
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78190-886-0
eISBN
978-1-78190-887-7
Book series ISSN
2045-0605