Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 150, Issue 2, pp 425–449 | Cite as

Multiparty Alliances and Systemic Change: The Role of Beneficiaries and Their Capacity for Collective Action

  • Diana TrujilloEmail author
Original Paper


The intensification of cross-sector collaboration phenomena has occurred in multiple fields of action. Organizations in the private, public, and social sectors are working together to tackle society’s most wicked problems. Some success has resulted in a generalized belief that cross-sector collaborations represent the new paradigm to manage complex problems. Yet, important knowledge gaps remain about how cross-sector alliances generate value for society, particularly to its beneficiaries. This paper answers the question: How cross-sector collaborations lead to systemic change? It uses a qualitative embedded case study design. I use two general cases of alliance-based interventions in the developing country Colombia. Embedded cases within each general case identify evidence of collective action capacity of the beneficiaries. Findings identify and explain alliances’ contributions to beneficiaries’ capacity building: brokering trust and creating spaces where beneficiaries develop an emergent collective action capacity. Alliances also enable beneficiaries to enact that capacity by building bridges, circulating capitals, and buffering relationships to protect people’s initiatives. Alliances and empowered collectives of beneficiaries produce systemic change using five mechanisms: brokering trust, creating spaces, building bridges, circulating capitals, and buffering relationships. Beneficiaries increased capacity for collective action is an outcome that becomes an alliance input, leading overtime to further benefits involving systemic change.


Cross-sector collaboration Collective action capacity Beneficiaries Value creation Systemic change 



This study was funded by the Research Committee of the Universidad de los Andes School of Management.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Author Diana Trujillo declares that he/she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidad de los Andes School of ManagementBogotáColombia

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