Managers Can Take Action to Strengthen Partnerships as They Evolve

Managers Can Take Action to Strengthen Partnerships as They Evolve

NBS July 14, 2010
This study investigates the processes underlying how business and nonprofit partnerships form. The authors identify the challenges faced by managers at each stage of partnership implementation. Based on their findings, they propose a partnership test that managers can use to evaluate the implementation effectiveness of a partnership.

Background

There is a growing consensus about the need for organizations to implement CSR. To do so, many businesses choose to form partnerships with nonprofit organizations, in which the partners combine resources in order to address social issues. This literature has investigated the steps required for implementing these types of partnerships, and a number of models have been proposed. These models suggest that the implementation takes place through the stages of selection, design and institutionalization.

Findings

Partnership implementation occurs through stages, which are characterized by the decisions or actions managers need to make in order to over the challenges of partnering.The Partnership selection stage consists of (1) making decisions regarding the associational form, (2) assessing the different options for partnership (BUSs or NPOs), and (3) informally analyzing the risk of the partnership.

The Partnership design stage consists of (1) experimenting with the partnership by drafting a formal agreement, (2) adapting, if amendments to the partnership are necessary, and (3) making the partnership operational by taking actions that stabilize the partnership, such as reporting and reviewing.

The Partnership institutionalization stage consists of (1) mastering the relationship enough to manage crises when they occur, and (2) develop a personal relationship between partners.

Implications for Managers

Identifying the processes underlying partnership implementation enables a better recognition of the management challenges present at every stage of the implementation process. Among these, the criteria for partner selection, the need to design risk assessment techniques, reflecting on agreements and objectives, reporting mechanisms, etc.

Implications for Researchers

The authors contribute to the growing body of literature on BUS-NPO partnerships by identifying the micro-processes underlying the partnership selection, design and institutionalization, that add detail to the existing models.

Methods

The authors produce two case studies, each of a BUS-NPO partnership. Semi-structured interviews were conducted among managers in all four organizations, which were aimed at obtaining information about the partnerships, such as the interactions between partners and the perspectives on the partnership. These were completed by document analysis.
Seitanidi, M. M., & Crane, A. 2009. Implementing CSR through Partnerships: Understanding the Selection, Design and Institutionalization of Nonprofit-Business Partnerships. Journal of Business Ethics. 85 :413-429.

Summarized by

Marie-Claude Allard & The NBS Team

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