How to Successfully Approach Community Engagement

How to Successfully Approach Community Engagement

Tom Ewart June 15, 2010
While most organizations approach community engagement in a 'transactional' way, the greatest value and competitive advantage is derived from more relational forms of engagement, which is harder to imitate. Frameworks exist to help managers engage the community. To achieve the best outcomes for both the firm and the community, managers should seek fit between the engagement context and process.


There are numerous case studies detailing the effective and ineffective processes companies have used to engage communities. However, there remain many loosely connected and sometimes competing ideas, as well as knowledge gaps. This study sought to identify the state-of-the-art of community engagement practices.


Implications for Managers

Implications for Researchers

Researchers should be more specific in their treatment of the broad issue of community engagement. Examine the causal mechanisms that link engagement practices to consequences. Measure the costs and benefits of engagement.


The authors systematically reviewed and synthesized over 200 academic and practitioner papers.
Bowen, Frances, Aloysius Newenham-Kahindi, & Irene Herremans. (2008). Engaging the Community:A Systematic Review. Network for Business Sustainability Knowledge Project Series.

additional resources

Executive Report

Truly effective community engagement involves complex decisions about who to work with (or through), how to engage, and what likely result to achieve.

Success Story

Learn how University of Victoria’s sustainability centre uses communication to strengthen community, share resources and support sustainable practices.

Chelsea Hicks-Webster
Executive Report

Apply collaborative community development to boost the social legitimacy of your firm and drive regional sustainability in communities where you operate. 

Verónica Devenin