Explaining the formation of business-environmentalist collaborations: Collaborative windows and the Paper Task Force
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- Lober, D.J. Policy Sciences (1997) 30: 1. doi:10.1023/A:1004201611394
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Building on the agenda setting theory of Kingdon (1984), this paper develops a collaboration forming model to explain the creation of multi-party initiatives as an addition to Gray's (1985 and 1989) explanation for collaborations as a response to environmental turbulence, crisis, or complexity. It tests this model by examining the Paper Task Force, a collaboration of five multi-national companies, an environmental group, and a university intended to determine environmentally sound guidelines for paper procurement. The study finds that multi-stakeholder collaborations can require ‘collaborative windows’ for their formation. These windows occur when four process streams – problem, policy, organizational, and social/political/economic – converge. In the case of the Paper Task Force, the problem stream was an increasing recognition of the environmental burdens throughout the lifecycle of paper production. The policy stream included new governmental initiatives to make paper-making processes cleaner and use paper with more recycled content. The organizational stream consisted of an increasing willingness among corporations to improve their environmental performance combined with their development of paper making technology with lower environmental impacts. The social/political/economic stream included strong public support for the environment in the United States and demand for chlorine free paper in Europe. A collaborative entrepreneur, the Environmental Defense Fund, working with the other Task Force members, was able to join solutions to problems. Implications for other collaborative ventures are developed.