Research Briefing, January/February 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 bimonthly 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 month’s briefing includes articles about:

  • corporate reputation in the arts and culture sector,
  • a public-private partnership with community colleges,
  • a framework of organizational responses to nonmarket stakeholders,
  • incentivizing food systems transformation,
  • accelerating cooperative activity in social network governance, and
  • sustainable business models for innovative cross-sector collaborations.

Evolving Cross-Sector Collaboration in the Arts and Culture Sector: From Sponsorship to Partnership,” Corporate Reputation Review, Yijing Wang and Kaspar-Pascal Holznagel

Abstract: “The arts and cultural sector offers a beneficial field of cross-sector collaboration for businesses as it is closely related to contemporary consumers’ lifestyle and civilization. This study examined the impact of two prominent cross-sector collaborations (i.e. partnership and sponsorship) on corporate reputation in the arts and culture sector, with the focus on a specific stakeholder group—the millennials. 154 millennials were recruited for an online experiment, using a convenience sampling through posting an open-call on the Facebook pages of the 100 most visited art museums in the world. The results show that partnership and sponsorship both indicate a positive effect on corporate reputation, whereas partnership is more appealing to the millennials than sponsorship. We also examined the moderation effects of sincerity, value alignment and credibility on the relationship of cross-sector collaboration and corporate reputation. All three moderators are found to strengthen the relationship, while the impact of credibility is the strongest among them. The findings imply that companies should be aware of the need to present themselves as a trustworthy collaborator and the necessity to fulfil their duties deriving from the engagement in a particular cross-sector collaboration.”

Public-Private Partnership: How and Why Six Community Colleges Loved and Left a For-profit Partner,” Innovative Higher Education, Negar Farakish, Shanna Jaggars, and Maggie Fay

Abstract: “Colleges are increasingly open to partnering with private entities to implement new and innovative programs. Community colleges, in particular, may find such partnerships beneficial, given that these institutions often lack the necessary resources to invest up-front in programs that may yield strong long-term dividends. In this article we report on an examination of a partnership between a privately-held firm and six community colleges, which had established honors programs with the goal of facilitating students’ transfer to highly selective institutions. Our analysis traces the evolution of the partnership and the reasons for its eventual failure, and we offer insights for public institutions and privately-held companies wishing to establish similar partnerships.”

Navigating Imposed Innovation: A Decision-Making Framework,” Business Horizons, Amir Bahman Radnejad and Oleksiy Osiyevskyy

Abstract: “Modern economies are characterized by the rising role of nonmarket actors (e.g., regulatory agencies, social activists, labor unions, media) that are gaining influence over the behavior of for-profit firms. These nonmarket stakeholders use their clout over industry players to impose innovations that require costly changes in business practices or technological trajectories while lacking firm-level economic justification. How should a company respond when it is pressured to adopt a new practice or change its products, while the economic calculations suggest that this is going to be a pure cost? Our study suggests alternative strategic responses to imposed innovation pressures and explores the factors determining the choice of an optimal strategy. Grounding the argument on the outside-in approach to pursuing imposed innovations, we propose a framework of organizational responses to external pressures to innovate, with varying degrees of firm engagement and different levels of cooperation with other industry actors. We also present a decision tree approach, allowing organizational decision makers to analyze the contextual determinants and ultimately arrive at the most appropriate, context-determined strategy.

How to Incentivize Food Systems to Meet the Realities of the 21st Century,” McKinsey & Company, Saswati Bora and Pradeep Prabhala

“Food systems are currently not fit for purpose. They do not meet the food and nutrition security needs of a growing global population and create significant environmental and health costs. As such, a comprehensive transformation is required in the way our food is produced—including the practices of more than 500 million smallholder farmers—and the consumption patterns of 7.7 billion people.

To enable such a transformation while meeting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), several transitions are required: to healthier and nutritious diets; to sustainable agricultural practices that protect and restore nature; to more inclusive livelihoods; and to greater efficiency in the production, distribution and consumption of food.

To achieve this will require the right set of incentives for food system actors—incentives that can overcome all the hurdles preventing stakeholders from making a change, as well as incentives that address the costs of behavioral change, mitigate the costs of transition and, potentially, fund ongoing economic costs. These incentives must fill knowledge and awareness gaps and be powerful enough to change the mindsets of billions of individuals.”

Government as Network Catalyst: Accelerating Self-Organization in a Strategic Industry,” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Travis A Whetsell, Michael D Siciliano, Kaila G K Witkowski, and Michael J Leiblein

Abstract: “Governments have long-standing interests in preventing market failures and enhancing innovation in strategic industries. Public policy regarding domestic technology is critical to both national security and economic prosperity. Governments often seek to enhance their global competitiveness by promoting private sector cooperative activity at the inter-organizational level. Research on network governance has illuminated the structure of boundary-spanning collaboration mainly for programs with immediate public or nonprofit objectives. Far less research has examined how governments might accelerate private sector cooperation to prevent market failures or to enhance innovation. The theoretical contribution of this research is to suggest that government programs might catalyze cooperative activity by accelerating the preferential attachment mechanism inherent in social networks. We analyze the long-term effects of a government program on the strategic alliance network of 451 organizations in the high-tech semiconductor industry between 1987 and 1999, using stochastic network analysis methods for longitudinal social networks.

Valuing Value in Innovation Ecosystems: How Cross-Sector Actors Overcome Tensions in Collaborative Sustainable Business Model Development,” Business & Society, Inge Oskam, Bart Bossink, and Ard-Pieter de Man

Abstract: “This article aims to uncover the processes of developing sustainable business models in innovation ecosystems. Innovation ecosystems with sustainability goals often consist of cross-sector partners and need to manage three tensions: the tension of value creation versus value capture, the tension of mutual value versus individual value, and the tension of gaining value versus losing value. The fact that these tensions affect all actors differently makes the process of developing a sustainable business model challenging. Based on a study of four sustainably innovative cross-sector collaborations, we propose that innovation ecosystems that develop a sustainable business model engage in a process of valuing value in which they search for a result that satisfies all actors. We find two different patterns of valuing value: collective orchestration and continuous search. We describe these patterns and the conditions that give rise to them. The identification of the two patterns opens up a research agenda that can shed further light on the conditions that need to be in place in order for an innovation ecosystem to develop effective sustainable business models. For practice, our findings show how cross-sector actors in innovation ecosystems may collaborate when developing a business model around emerging sustainability-oriented innovations.”