Research Briefing, July/August 2020

blogimage_researchbriefingEach month, there is new, fascinating research emerging that provides practical insight into how the government, business, and non-profit sectors partner to address society’s most pressing problems. To keep our readers up to date on this work, which comes from a variety of academic and non-academic sources, we compile a monthly briefing and publish it on our blog — for researchers who want to stay up to date on progress in the field of cross-sector collaboration and practitioners who are interested in how this research may be applicable to their work.

This briefing includes articles about:

  • collaborative cross-sector business models for sustainability innovation,
  • open strategy-making in cross-sector partnerships,
  • cross-sector partnerships with faith-based organizations,
  • cross-sector initiatives to advance racial equity, and
  • business partnerships for shared prosperity.


Transitioning Collaborative Cross-sector Business Models for Sustainability Innovation: Multilevel Tension Management as a Dynamic Capability,” Business & Society, Marta Rey-Garcia, Vanessa Mato-Santiso, and Ana Felgueiras

Abstract: “Collaborative cross-sector business models for sustainability innovation (CCSBMSI) in response to grand challenges are rich foci for tensions. This is the case of CCSBMSI targeting independent living through Information and Communication Technology-enabled care. This research aims at identifying the relevant tensions, understanding their interactions, and assessing how they can be effectively managed so that CCSBMSI become more valuable for partners and transformative for society. A conceptual framework that understands the management of interrelated institutional and interorganizational tensions as a dynamic capability is substantiated through in-depth, qualitative analysis of the long-term dynamics of a four-sector CCSBMSI in telecare — including government, businesses, nonprofits, and informal actors. Its effects on the transition of business models in terms of value creation, delivery, and capture; on relevant stakeholders — particularly nonprofits and beneficiaries; and on the development of the sustainability innovation are discussed. The conceptualization, tension categories, and management capabilities of CCSBMSI are amplified.


Exploring Enablers of Open Strategy-Making in Cross-sector Settings,” Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings, Henrike Schmidt, Eva Maria Oppel, and Carl Rudolf Blankart

Abstract: “Because meta-problems ignore man-made sectoral boundaries, solving them requires organizations to open up their strategy-making processes in order to gain access to diverse outside knowledge. Doing so, however, entails important challenges, especially in cross-sector settings that include professionals involved in divergent processes for organizing and implementing strategy-making in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Despite evidence on the expected benefits of open strategy-making, our understanding of its enablers remains under-developed. Our paper advances this understanding by exploring enablers of open strategy-making in a setting characterized by a meta-problem: We conduct an in-depth case study of a cross-sector healthcare partnership with the aim to improve healthcare for a socially deprived population. Our findings indicate that ensuring formalization, organizing diversity, and managing resources are key dimensions for open strategy-making in a cross-sector partnership. Our paper provides a framework of enablers with more detailed insights and illustrates key dynamics between enablers. Overall, our study informs strategy and policy makers about requirements for inclusive and transparent strategy-making across market sectors.”


Do U.S. Faith-Based Social Service Organizations Resist Collaboration? Examining the Role of Religiosity and Operational Capacity in Interorganizational Partnerships,” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Jiawei Sophia,  Katherine R. Cooper, and Michelle Shumate

Abstract: “Although nonprofit collaboration is commonplace, recent research suggests that faith-based organizations (FBOs) are less likely to collaborate than other nonprofits. This study builds on prior FBO, collaboration, and nonprofit capacity research to examine the influence of religiosity and operational capacity on FBOs’ within- and cross-sector partnerships. Findings from a survey with 197 FBOs across the United States reveal a complex picture of how religiosity and operational capacity influence FBO collaboration. More specifically, staff religiosity was positively related to cross-sector partnerships. Service religiosity (i.e., religious elements in staff–client interactions) was negatively associated with collaboration with government agencies. Results also indicated that FBOs with higher operational capacity had more partners in the nonprofit, business, and public sectors. These findings suggest that FBOs generally lack the operational capacity for collaboration and that service religiosity creates additional barriers to it. This article concludes with implications for research in FBOs, interorganizational collaboration, and nonprofit capacity.”


Driving Systems Change Forward: Leveraging Multisite, Cross-sector Initiatives to Change Systems, Advance Racial Equity, and Shift Power,” Urban Institute, Corianne Payton Scally, Lydia Lo, Kathryn L.S. Pettit, Camille H. Anoll, and Kassie Scott

Abstract: “A slate of multisite, cross-sector initiatives has emerged to address structural root causes of inequities by changing the systems that shape community conditions and individual well-being. These new, connected sets of activities were planned and implemented to achieve a goal that spans more than one site (e.g., a neighborhood, school, city, region) and involve a mix of institutions from the public, nonprofit, philanthropic, and/or private sectors. This report reflects on recent progress and shortcomings and provides strategies for initiative funders, intermediaries, sites, and evaluators who wish to evolve their efforts in ways that drive systems change forward. The findings highlight the complex intersections of systems, racial equity, and power that can work for or against systems change.”


Filling Gaps in Response: The Value of Local Partnerships During a Crisis,” Urban Institute, Emily Bramhall, Matthew Eldridge, and Aaron Shroyer

Abstract: “The Urban Institute has been working with local leaders across the country who are engaged in the Shared Prosperity Partnership to build cross-sector partnerships among municipal governments, civic leaders, foundations, and other partners. These community champions are increasingly seeking to mobilize businesses with local footprints to join collective efforts toward shared prosperity (PDF) — that is, economic growth that increases economic mobility while narrowing significant disparities by race, ethnicity, and gender.

And then the pandemic hit. And their mission — and lessons we learned from their efforts — became even more urgent. Our forthcoming brief will spotlight where business partnerships for shared prosperity exist, how they function, and what goals they pursue. We spoke with stakeholders of three different efforts outside of the Shared Prosperity Partnership: the Capital Region Collaborative in Richmond, Virginia; the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA); and the Partnership for New York City.”



Other recently released research on cross-sector collaboration: