Shared goals, shared solutions: research on collaboration for a sustainable future

This study provides a guide to how, when and why businesses are collaborating with others. It identifies common structures and success factors to provide practical guidance to companies.

Collaboration between companies and between sectors is not new. What does appear to be new is the scale, volume and scope of collaborations involving business that have emerged over the past five to ten years, and in particular the increasing number of business to business collaborations.

Globalisation has changed the operating environment for all sectors and sustainable development is an issue few can ignore. But sustainable development means big, complex and interconnected issues; issues that no one organisation can tackle alone. BITC believes that collaboration is one of the key mechanisms to scale up the activity and change needed to solve these issues and it is a challenge that lies at the heart of what responsible business means both now and in the future.

Yet our own experience and that of others, has taught us that working collaboratively and forming partnerships across cultural and sectoral lines is not always easy. Competition law remains a specific barrier where joint action might affect price, market share or consumer choice even when this could have a powerful social or environmental impact.

Those interested in this report may also find our recent publication How to develop good cross-sector partnerships useful.