Collaboration Expert to Lead NBS Study

Collaboration Expert to Lead NBS Study

NBS February 15, 2013
After an international search, NBS has chosen the research team to study its next sustainability topic – Multi-Stakeholder Collaborations. We are delighted to announce management professor Barbara Gray of Pennsylvania State University and her colleague Jenna Stites as the researchers for this project.

Director of the Center for Research in Conflict and Negotiation, Gray has published three books and more than 90 academic articles on organizational behaviour, multi-party alliances and team dynamics. She has consulted with private, public and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to teach and facilitate collaboration, including Union Carbide, U.S. Steel,  Mellon Bank, the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Greenpeace International.

Jenna Stites is a fourth-year PhD candidate at the Smeal College of Business at Pennsylvania State University. Her research addresses corporate social responsibility and sustainability image and reputation, corporate reaction to institutional pressures and corporate social performance.

Why Study Business Collaboration?

At NBS’s annual meeting in September 2012, our Leadership Council asked: “How can companies best engage value chain, industry and NGO partners to achieve sustainability goals?” (Read the full report on the 10 Sustainability Challenges for Canadian Business in 2013. )

The complexity and scale of sustainability challenges requires the involvement of organizations across society. Companies can do everything possible to improve their environmental and social impacts within their operations, but their absolute measure of sustainable performance depends upon the actions of suppliers, customers partners and governments.

“Big brands need to share best practices and solve mutual sustainability problems,” said Tim Faveri of Tim Hortons. “If other organizations see no value in collaborating – and they’re buying from the same suppliers as us – how can we advance the sustainability agenda?”

Examples of effective multi-stakeholder collaborations to date include Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, Responsible Care, the Forest Stewardship Council and the Marine Stewardship Council.

Conducting a Systematic Review of the Literature

NBS’s 2013 systematic review will review the best sources on the world on multi-stakeholder collaborations. The resulting report will identify best practices for firms to collaborate with other companies, government agencies, NGOs and other stakeholders to implement consensus-based solutions to sustainability problems. The systematic review will also include: the different forms collaborations take and effective practices for their formation, operation, and evaluation.

For an overview of systematic reviews, watch the video at