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Guide: Collaborating with Competitors to Advance Sustainability

This guide enables managers to make the case for a competitor collaboration to colleagues or leaders, and determine satisfaction with current projects.

How can business collaborate with competitors to identify and implement sustainability solutions?

This guide outlines:

  • Key characteristics and benefits of competitive collaborations

  • Main tensions organizations face when collaborating with the competition

  • Research based advice on developing competitive collaborations for sustainability

Based on extensive research and in-depth interviews, this guide enables business managers to make the case for competitor collaborations to colleagues or leaders, determine the level of satisfaction with current competitor collaborations, and make desired changes. For industry association representatives, the guide provides resources and training for effective industry collaborations. Lastly, this report provides NGO leaders support to implement industry-wide changes and position their organizations to support multi-firm collaborations.


How Industry Leaders Opened Up

“To improve trust among our member firms, we’ve been working with a formula that attempts to unpack the concept of trust. It involves humility, authenticity, presence, looking each other in the eye, and understanding just how committed we are to making this better.”

Jim Donihee, Canadian Energy Pipeline Association
(excerpt from manager’s guide)

“It’s very important to be very focused in what you are doing. You can’t boil the ocean, you can’t do everything, and I think in the past we have tried to do more than what our resources allowed . . . . Laser focus is the key.”

– Wesley Johnston, Canadian Solar Industries Association
(excerpt from manager’s guide)


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  • NBS

    The Network for Business Sustainability (NBS) is a non-profit advancing sustainable development to build a fairer and more environmentally sound future. We aim to improve business practice by facilitating knowledge sharing across an international community of business leaders, scholars, students and policy makers. With these stakeholders, we co-create high-quality content that enables practical action. Our content focuses on 6 critical sustainability themes, from climate change to social justice.

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