Collaborative Sustainable Business Models: Understanding Organizations Partnering for Community Sustainability

Business and Society 60 (5):1174-1215 (2021)


Cross-sector social partnerships are relevant units of analysis for understanding sustainable business models. This research examines how organizations value their motivations to participate in large sustainability-focused partnerships, how they perceive the value captured, and their structures implemented to address sustainability partnerships. Two hundred and twenty-four organizations partnering within four large sustainability CSSPs were surveyed using an augmented resource-based view theoretical framework. Results show that partners were motivated by and captured value related to sustainability-, organizational-, and human-oriented resources, and that organizations prefer more informal than formal structural elements to implement their partnerships’ sustainability strategies. Contributions to SBM and CSSP fields are revealed. SBM thinking is a provocation toward seeking integrated sustainable value creation, helping show the value of large CSSPs. Conversely, by conceiving of large, pluralistic CSSPs as “collaborative SBMs,” we extend the idea of the “business model” to the societal level, exploring how value is captured in partnership.

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