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Open Access
Article
Publication date: 28 June 2021

Eduardo Ordonez-Ponce, Amelia Clarke and Adriane MacDonald

This study aims to understand how businesses can contribute to the achievement of the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) by implementing Local Agenda 21 (or…

4773

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to understand how businesses can contribute to the achievement of the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) by implementing Local Agenda 21 (or equivalent) plans in partnership with other organizations situated in their city. To this end, the present study examines drivers and outcomes from the perspective of business partners, as well as their relationships to the SDGs.

Design/methodology/approach

Through a mixed-methods approach this research studies 71 businesses from four large cross-sector partnerships formed to achieve local sustainability goals. Data were collected through a survey to determine why firms partner and what outcomes they obtain from partnering. Qualitative content analyses are used to determine the relationships between business drivers and outcomes from partnering for local sustainability and the SDGs.

Findings

From a resource-based view (RBV) perspective, findings show the value of local sustainability partnerships in relation to the SDGs. Many SDG targets are aligned with the top reasons why businesses join large community sustainability partnerships. Also, through the outcomes achieved by participating in the partnership businesses can further the SDGs.

Research limitations/implications

This research contributes to the literature and to practice through the understanding of businesses partnering for local sustainability, and its relationships to global sustainability. Firstly, the connections of business partners to local and global sustainability are better understood. Of note is the contribution made to the literature on sustainability-related drivers and outcomes expanding and refining RBV literature. Secondly, a positive connection has been established between businesses and the SDGs, proposing a virtuous model of relationship that summarizes the findings from this research. And thirdly, large cross-sector social partnerships are better understood.

Practical implications

Small- and medium-sized enterprises and large corporations with local offices can further both local and global sustainable development by engaging in local cross-sector sustainability partnerships.

Social implications

These research findings are crucial for those leading sustainability initiatives, so they can engage businesses actively in light of the important role they play in society improving their contributions and the chances for sustainability partnerships to achieve their goals.

Originality/value

This research contributes to the scale conversation by exploring community sustainability partnerships as a means to understand how business engagement in sustainability at the local level can contribute to the achievement of the SDGs and, ultimately, to global sustainability.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 12 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 15 June 2021

Guido Grunwald, Jürgen Schwill and Anne-Marie Sassenberg

This paper aims to analyze the requirements for stakeholder integration in sustainability project partnerships in times of sustainability crisis. Referring to the COVID-19…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to analyze the requirements for stakeholder integration in sustainability project partnerships in times of sustainability crisis. Referring to the COVID-19 pandemic as a sustainability crisis that has sensitized consumers and other stakeholders to corporate responsibility for social and sustainability issues, a conceptual framework for stakeholder integration is developed from which implications for designing the potential, process and result quality are derived.

Design/methodology/approach

In this conceptual paper, design options for stakeholder integration are derived from open innovation and service management research. Specific crisis-related determinants of stakeholder integration are derived from current corporate social responsibility (CSR) and crisis research taking into account the opportunities and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Design options and crisis-related determinants are then combined to a conceptual framework for stakeholder integration in sustainability project partnerships in times of crisis. Based on this framework, research propositions are derived that provide insights into the design of the potential, process and result quality of stakeholder integration.

Findings

This paper shows that the COVID-19 pandemic can be viewed as a sustainability crisis, which places special entrepreneurial demands on stakeholder integration in sustainability project partnerships. The pandemic offers potential for integrating a large number of stakeholders and has emphasized the need for integrating a broad range of stakeholders. Higher skepticism of stakeholders toward companies' CSR engagement in the pandemic has raised stakeholder demands for early integration. Higher skepticism and CSR involvement have rendered active forms of integration even more relevant, which, however, should still be adapted to the respective stakeholder prerequisites. The pandemic has increased the need for constant and comprehensive exchange of data on project results between stakeholders and the project leading organization. Measurement of target achievement can be promoted by establishing stakeholder commitment with regard to the target measures on the collective and relationship levels of the partnership. Finally, the pandemic has reinforced the need for more dialogical forms of communicating sustainability project results.

Originality/value

Solving problems and exploiting opportunities in times of crisis require a high degree of entrepreneurship and creative leadership in order to gain new ideas and overcome resource deficits. Sustainability project partnerships in which various stakeholders contribute resources and knowledge to collaborate on idea development and finding solutions to sustainability issues are suitable for this. However, previous approaches to stakeholder integration in open innovation and service management research largely neglect the crisis context and only a few are related to sustainability. In CSR and crisis research, stakeholder-related approaches to coping with crises tend to be underrepresented, and the comprehensive concept of stakeholder integration has so far hardly been considered as an approach to crisis management. By taking into account the COVID-19 pandemic as a sustainability crisis, this paper provides new impulses for the integration of stakeholders in sustainability project partnerships in times of crisis. Recommendations for the design of the potential, process and result quality are derived, which provide insights for project leaders and stakeholders alike. In addition, implications for public policymakers are derived, who are assigned an increasingly active role in the pandemic and who can contribute to the success of sustainability project partnerships by setting suitable framework conditions. The developed concept can be expanded to include further company-related determinants and offers a starting point for empirical analysis in the still underexplored research fields of sustainability-oriented relationship marketing and sustainability crises.

Article
Publication date: 22 July 2020

Stefan U. Pauer, Angelique Pilon and Brad Badelt

This paper aims to investigate sustainability research collaborations between the City of Vancouver and the University of British Columbia (UBC), as a case study to better…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate sustainability research collaborations between the City of Vancouver and the University of British Columbia (UBC), as a case study to better understand how to use city–university partnerships to advance effective urban sustainability policy and practices. The study compiles a basic inventory of partnerships since 2010, describes their benefits, areas for improvement, barriers to collaboration and proposes ways to increase and improve future collaborations.

Design/methodology/approach

The study draws on an electronic survey completed by 58 individuals and interviews with 13 such participants who were faculty members and staff at UBC and Vancouver.

Findings

Most collaborations responded to climate change in some way, were initiated through informal professional relationships and involved single departments in each organization. Projects ranged in size, duration and level of municipal funding. Although project participants were generally happy with past experiences, future collaborations could be improved by increasing leadership commitment and resources and producing more mutually beneficial outcomes. Barriers included lacking awareness of potential partners, difficulty aligning municipal needs with academic research interests and divergent expectations about project resources. The study recommends introducing formal processes to help identify overlapping interests and opportunities, enhance co-creation of projects and increase leadership and resources.

Practical implications

The findings may inform the development and implementation of future city–university partnerships to advance sustainable policies and practices in urban areas.

Originality/value

This paper contributes by reviewing experiences with city–university collaborations and offering evidence-based recommendations to improve them, thereby increasing opportunities for more effective urban sustainability solutions.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 21 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 26 January 2022

Guido Grunwald, Jürgen Schwill and Anne-Marie Sassenberg

Partnerships for sustainability involve the cooperation of several direct and indirect stakeholders. Direct stakeholders are project partners who can include sponsoring…

Abstract

Partnerships for sustainability involve the cooperation of several direct and indirect stakeholders. Direct stakeholders are project partners who can include sponsoring brands, manufacturers or retailers; and sponsored sports clubs or social institutions, and indirect stakeholders relate to potential customers, the general public and government agencies. The knowledge and competencies of direct and indirect stakeholders are integrated to ensure common project-based sustainability and individual goals. This integration is essentially facilitated by image transfer and self-identification effects, which strengthen stakeholder commitment and trust, and ultimately contributing to a higher relationship quality. However, sustainability partnerships experience several challenges. The challenges lie in selecting suitable partners; formulating partner requirements; determining partner contributions; evaluating and controlling partner integration and, further, enhancing cooperation and relationship quality among selected partners. To attend to these challenges requires a holistic and systematic process for stakeholder integration in sustainability projects. In this chapter, a process model for stakeholder integration for sustainability projects is developed based on the relevant theoretical and empirical research on relationship and sustainability marketing. In particular, the possibilities of digital integration are taken into account in the process. The model can be used to manage co-creation partnerships for sustainability including the selection, evaluation and controlling of stakeholder relationships to derive strategies and measures to improve relationship quality.

Book part
Publication date: 17 September 2014

Marcelo Biagio Laquimia and Gabriel Eweje

This study investigates how organizations in Brazil address sustainability concerns through collaborative governance efforts with strategic stakeholders. Organizations…

Abstract

Purpose

This study investigates how organizations in Brazil address sustainability concerns through collaborative governance efforts with strategic stakeholders. Organizations from New Zealand were considered as benchmarks for comparison.

Methodology/approach

This study is based on a qualitative exploratory research, supported by semistructured interviews. Ten organizations are interviewed, five from each country. Thematic analysis is used to analyze the interview data. Central management practices adopted by organizations are presented, and the goals, benefits, and limitations associated with collaborative initiatives are investigated.

Findings and practical implications

The findings reveal that organizations in Brazil and in New Zealand are employing similar management and sustainability practices. Companies in both countries observe that collaborative efforts with strategic stakeholders improve their ability to meet market demands and jointly develop innovative solutions toward sustainability goals while exchanging knowledge and enhancing their operational effectiveness. Organizations perceive a number of tangible and nontangible value creation outcomes from sustainability practices, such as brand and reputational gains, improved supply chain management, and risk management attainments. The results also present limitations, such as internal limitations of organizations concerning how their executives and general staff incorporate sustainability issues into their organizations’ strategic planning and operational decisions.

Originality/value of paper

Market pressures toward greener and more responsible operations equally affected organizations in both countries, without differentiation in operation between an emerging country such as Brazil and a developed country such as New Zealand. Directions for future research are presented. These are based on how organizations measure sustainability outcomes of management practices and collaborative alliances, and how organizations map upcoming market demands and opportunities to deliver more value to society as the sustainable development debate continues to evolve.

Details

Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability: Emerging Trends in Developing Economies
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-152-7

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 April 2014

Leanne Bilodeau, Jackie Podger and Alaa Abd-El-Aziz

Universities can provide a leadership role to develop and mobilize knowledge to meet societal needs. In fulfilling this mission, universities can also serve as agents of…

1769

Abstract

Purpose

Universities can provide a leadership role to develop and mobilize knowledge to meet societal needs. In fulfilling this mission, universities can also serve as agents of sustainable development on campus and in communities they serve. The purpose of this article is to describe the drivers that have advanced the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus' operational and academic sustainability objectives; the initiatives and partnerships developed on campus and in the community in response to these drivers; and the outcomes and lessons learned.

Design/methodology/approach

This article summarizes the experience of the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus in leveraging key drivers to develop sustainability initiatives and partnerships for greater operational efficiencies, cost savings, environmental stewardship and applied research. The university's leadership commitment to sustainability, economic opportunities and provincial legislative requirements are among the drivers discussed. This paper also provides an innovative partnership framework to support sustainable community development.

Findings

Drivers of sustainability in higher education can contribute to the development of sustainability initiatives and partnerships that benefit institutions and communities and achieve operational and academic sustainability mandates.

Practical implications

This article provides information that can be applied by institutions of higher education to advance sustainability within the context of current economic conditions and societal needs.

Originality/value

The experience of the campus and the partnership framework presented in this paper is original. The framework provides a mechanism to engage students, faculty and the community in sustainable community development research. Key insights from multiple perspectives and lessons learned are shared.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 15 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 7 November 2016

Alison Munro, Jean Marcus, Katie Dolling, John Robinson and Jennifer Wahl

This paper describes the sustainability partnership between the City of Vancouver and the University of British Columbia (UBC) and, in particular, the co-curricular…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper describes the sustainability partnership between the City of Vancouver and the University of British Columbia (UBC) and, in particular, the co-curricular Greenest City Scholars graduate student internship program, which has been developed by the two organizations. Through the program, UBC graduate students work on projects at the City that help to advance sustainability targets. The paper aims to explore the successes, challenges and lessons learned from the program.

Design/methodology/approach

This case study uses literature and document review, observations, program participant evaluation surveys and project impact survey feedback.

Findings

The Greenest City Scholars program model has contributed to the sustainability goals at UBC and the City of Vancouver and has supported the partnership between the two organizations. The program has grown over its five-year history and is considered to be a central part of the partnership. Breadth of student participants from across the university and high participation from City departments have been achieved. The model is now being adapted to be delivered within other partnerships.

Practical implications

The experiences presented in this case study can help other higher education institutions understand how a co-curricular graduate student work experience program could help to bolster their own sustainability partnerships.

Originality/value

This paper makes a contribution by providing insight into the use of a graduate student program to advance the goals of a university–community sustainability partnership.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 17 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 15 January 2021

Juelin Yin

This paper aims to understand the characteristics, factors and contingencies of social partnerships between multinational corporations (MNCs) and nonprofits in the context…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to understand the characteristics, factors and contingencies of social partnerships between multinational corporations (MNCs) and nonprofits in the context of sustainability that enable or impede the value creation outcome of the collaboration.

Design/methodology/approach

A multi-case study with 12 social partnerships operating in China was investigated considering their relative representativeness and different value creation outcomes.

Findings

The author presents a snapshot of the current state and unique differences of social partnerships in China, whereas the existing literature has mostly addressed the topic from a Western context. Moreover, the author highlights the key determinants and contextual features that influence the value creation outcome of social partnerships in China.

Research limitations/implications

This study concentrates on the social partnerships in the largest emerging country context of China, and the representativeness of data collected from a small sample may be challenged. Likewise, the 12 social partnerships studied are similar in design but vary in sustainability focus. To test the validity of the theorizing, the study calls for future research to apply the proposed theoretical framework across various contexts across both developing and developed world.

Practical implications

The paper provides guidance to corporate managers and nonprofit decision-makers on how to improve their social partner initiation, operations and governance so as to generate greater collaborative value out of social partnerships in the Chinese market.

Social implications

This study contributes to the social partnership literature, which has been dominant in the Western context, by offering case evidences from China.

Originality/value

The study shows that social partnerships are increasingly initiated and sustained in the context of sustainability and corporate social responsibility, with the majority oriented toward “satisficing” instead of “optimizing” and represented mostly with a “philanthropic” and “transactional” approach. The author particularly notes the salience of social exchange, with social partnerships serving as an indirect relational instrument for MNCs to navigate stakeholder relationships in the Chinese market, especially with the dominant resource holder such as the government.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 12 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 5 July 2021

Celine Louche, Suzanne Young and Martin Fougère

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the topic and review the contributions of the special issue papers on cross-sector dialogue for sustainability. The paper also…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the topic and review the contributions of the special issue papers on cross-sector dialogue for sustainability. The paper also presents avenues for further research.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on a review of the current literature on cross-sector partnership and dialogue. It explores the current issues in cross-sector partnerships through a discussion of the papers accepted for the special issue, their focus, findings and key contributions.

Findings

It highlights three main key research themes and learnings from the special issue papers: a high level of “hybridity” of collaboration forms, which involve important tensions; a need to understand partnership in its context and the importance of the individual level in cross-sector collaboration.

Practical implications

The authors call for attention to be paid to two forms of myopia: a tendency to view partnerships primarily from a resource-based view (without much attempt to measure societal impact) and a reluctance to be explicitly critical (despite empirical evidence of some suboptimal aspects of partnerships).

Social implications

The authors call for researchers to move away from a resource-based approach to one that is situated in exploring the value derived from partnerships in the broader societal context. The authors suggest some avenues for further research to move the discussion beyond the partnership imperative.

Originality/value

The paper outlines the need to critically revisit the very essence of what real partnership means and whether dialogue is really taking place.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 12 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 18 May 2015

Gayle C. Avery

– This article reports on a whitepaper showing the key success factors involved in driving corporate sustainability, and illustrates them using mini-case studies.

1995

Abstract

Purpose

This article reports on a whitepaper showing the key success factors involved in driving corporate sustainability, and illustrates them using mini-case studies.

Design/methodology/approach

Results from a 2015 whitepaper published by Boston Consulting Group and MIT Sloan Management Review in association with the United Nations Global Compact are discussed. The findings are based on interviews conducted globally with 2,587 business managers, experts and practitioners. Best practice examples are provided of what three leading corporations are doing to achieve their sustainability strategies.

Findings

Two key drivers of corporate sustainability emerged. First, successful corporate sustainability involves collaborations with a range of other organizations. Essentially, the more partners in a particular project, the more successful the initiative is judged to be. Second, boards drive successful corporate sustainability where directors are interested in setting the sustainability strategy, its implementation and the outcomes.

Research limitations/implications

The findings open many research questions and hypotheses to sustainability researchers and academics.

Practical implications

Guidance is provided for senior executives seeking to improve and/or increase corporate sustainability initiatives, namely, to collaborate with other parties and engage the board.

Social implications

The planet and its inhabitants will benefit if obstacles to successfully tackling wicked problems such as hunger, poverty and the effects of climate change can be reduced using the power of collaborations between business, government, NGOs, and academe.

Originality/value

This paper provides insight into the perceived current state, obstacles and drivers of corporate sustainability, along with examples of successful approaches.

Details

Strategy & Leadership, vol. 43 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1087-8572

Keywords

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