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close this bookPartners in Time? Business, NGOs and Sustainable Development (UNRISD, 1999, 85 p.)
close this folderPart 1: The changing nature of business-ngo relations
close this folderConclusions: The Characteristics of Collaboration
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPreconditions
View the documentInteractive Processes
View the documentOutcomes and Consequences


It is important to understand the factors that give rise to partnerships, namely the preconditions that motivate organizations to seek out partners or to accept offers to collaborate (Gray and Wood, 1991). These may include external and/or internal issues unique to one organization or shared by the partners. The specific origins of the formal partnerships and other collaborative forms of business-relations in each of the case studies are obviously unique. Below we offer a preliminary list of partnership preconditions that emerge from the case studies and other research. It is not exhaustive and should not be seen as a partnership formula. Relevant preconditions include the following:

· emergence of sustainable development as a new - albeit contested - global-local problem domain where both business and NGOs are relevant stakeholders;

· perceived and actual decline in the effectiveness of state regulation and global governance related to the enforcement of environmental and labour standards;

· acknowledgement on the part of NGOs of the increasing political and economic power of global corporations as agents of unsustainable development and as potentially positive agents of socio-economic and environmental change;

· proliferation of North-South “double standards” in corporate social and environmental policies and programmes;

· impact of different forms of sustained, often widespread NGO campaigning, including direct action, consumer awareness and information dissemination via new technologies, upon corporate reputation, market position and business responses to sustainable development;

· recognition by beleaguered companies of the growing power and legitimacy of NGOs as agents of social change and potential partners to help solve business problems;

· need for more inclusive and accountable models of society, governance, problem solving, standard setting, regulation, community development, etc.;