Sustainability project partnerships in times of crisis: conceptual framework and implications for stakeholder integration

Article


Grunwald, Guido, Schwill, Jurgen and Sassenberg, Anne-Marie. 2021. "Sustainability project partnerships in times of crisis: conceptual framework and implications for stakeholder integration." Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy. 10 (3), pp. 352-378. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEPP-04-2021-0044
Article Title

Sustainability project partnerships in times of crisis: conceptual framework and implications for stakeholder integration

ERA Journal ID200985
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsGrunwald, Guido (Author), Schwill, Jurgen (Author) and Sassenberg, Anne-Marie (Author)
Journal TitleJournal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy
Journal Citation10 (3), pp. 352-378
Number of Pages27
Year2021
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
ISSN2045-2101
2045-211X
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1108/JEPP-04-2021-0044
Web Address (URL)https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JEPP-04-2021-0044/full/html
Abstract

Purpose: This paper aims to analyze the requirements for stakeholder integration in sustainability project partnerships in times of sustainability crisis. Referring to the COVID-19 pandemic as a sustainability crisis that has sensitized consumers and other stakeholders to corporate responsibility for social and sustainability issues, a conceptual framework for stakeholder integration is developed from which implications for designing the potential, process and result quality are derived. Design/methodology/approach: In this conceptual paper, design options for stakeholder integration are derived from open innovation and service management research. Specific crisis-related determinants of stakeholder integration are derived from current corporate social responsibility (CSR) and crisis research taking into account the opportunities and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Design options and crisis-related determinants are then combined to a conceptual framework for stakeholder integration in sustainability project partnerships in times of crisis. Based on this framework, research propositions are derived that provide insights into the design of the potential, process and result quality of stakeholder integration. Findings: This paper shows that the COVID-19 pandemic can be viewed as a sustainability crisis, which places special entrepreneurial demands on stakeholder integration in sustainability project partnerships. The pandemic offers potential for integrating a large number of stakeholders and has emphasized the need for integrating a broad range of stakeholders. Higher skepticism of stakeholders toward companies' CSR engagement in the pandemic has raised stakeholder demands for early integration. Higher skepticism and CSR involvement have rendered active forms of integration even more relevant, which, however, should still be adapted to the respective stakeholder prerequisites. The pandemic has increased the need for constant and comprehensive exchange of data on project results between stakeholders and the project leading organization. Measurement of target achievement can be promoted by establishing stakeholder commitment with regard to the target measures on the collective and relationship levels of the partnership. Finally, the pandemic has reinforced the need for more dialogical forms of communicating sustainability project results. Originality/value: Solving problems and exploiting opportunities in times of crisis require a high degree of entrepreneurship and creative leadership in order to gain new ideas and overcome resource deficits. Sustainability project partnerships in which various stakeholders contribute resources and knowledge to collaborate on idea development and finding solutions to sustainability issues are suitable for this. However, previous approaches to stakeholder integration in open innovation and service management research largely neglect the crisis context and only a few are related to sustainability. In CSR and crisis research, stakeholder-related approaches to coping with crises tend to be underrepresented, and the comprehensive concept of stakeholder integration has so far hardly been considered as an approach to crisis management. By taking into account the COVID-19 pandemic as a sustainability crisis, this paper provides new impulses for the integration of stakeholders in sustainability project partnerships in times of crisis. Recommendations for the design of the potential, process and result quality are derived, which provide insights for project leaders and stakeholders alike. In addition, implications for public policymakers are derived, who are assigned an increasingly active role in the pandemic and who can contribute to the success of sustainability project partnerships by setting suitable framework conditions. The developed concept can be expanded to include further company-related determinants and offers a starting point for empirical analysis in the still underexplored research fields of sustainability-oriented relationship marketing and sustainability crises.

KeywordsKeywords Sustainability project partnership, Stakeholder integration, Sustainability crisis, Corporate social responsibility, Relationship management, Stakeholder management, Sustainability marketing
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020350612. Social marketing
350717. Stakeholder engagement
350702. Corporate social responsibility
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Byline AffiliationsOsnabrück University of Applied Sciences, Germany
Technical University Brandenburg, Germany
University of Southern Queensland
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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