Skip to main content

Understanding Collaborative Value Creation by Environmental Nonprofit and Renewable Energy Business Partnerships

Abstract

Many environmental nonprofit organizations (ENPOs) seek to create sustainability value by promoting environmental principles and influencing policymakers to support pro-environmental legislation. One strategy used by ENPOs to enhance the value creation process is the development of partnerships with businesses. Semi-structured interviews with leaders of six national ENPOs in the United States were conducted to examine the sources and types of value created by collaborations with renewable energy businesses, and the partnership processes and outcomes that are most desirable. The goal was to understand how and why ENPOs seek partnerships, what the potential benefits are, and whether or not ENPO leadership orientation, as characterized by their perceptions of the political opportunity structure, political ideology, and environmental philosophy, led to different views of partnerships for sustainability value creation. The finding that differences in the partnership perspectives of the ENPO leadership did not directly link to differences in the leadership orientations suggests that none of the orientations precluded partnering in general and may even have been enablers in some cases.

Résumé

De nombreuses organisations environnementales à but non lucratif cherchent à créer un intérêt en matière de développement durable en promouvant les principes environnementaux et en influençant les responsables politiques pour qu’ils soutiennent une législation en faveur de l’environnement. L’une des stratégies utilisées par ces organisations pour améliorer le processus de création de cet intérêt est le développement de partenariats avec les entreprises. Des entrevues semi-structurées avec les dirigeants de six organisations nationales aux États-Unis ont été menées pour étudier les ressources et les types d’intérêt créés par les collaborations avec des entreprises axées sur l’énergie renouvelable, ainsi que les processus de partenariat et les résultats les plus souhaitables. L’objectif était de comprendre comment et pourquoi les organisations environnementales à but non lucratif recherchaient des partenariats, quels étaient les avantages possibles, et si oui ou non leur orientation de leadership caractérisée par leur perception de la structure des opportunités politiques, l’idéologie politique et la philosophie environnementale avaient conduit à des opinions différentes sur les partenariats pour la création d’un intérêt en matière de développement durable. La conclusion selon laquelle les différences au niveau des perspectives de partenariat de la direction des organisations environnementales à but non lucratif n’étaient pas directement liées aux différences d’orientation de direction semble indiquer qu’aucune des orientations écartées ne s’associait de manière générale et qu’il se peut même qu’elles aient été des catalyseurs dans certains cas.

Zusammenfassung

Viele gemeinnützige Umweltorganisationen streben einen Nachhaltigkeitswert an, indem sie sich für ökologische Prinzipien einsetzen und politische Entscheidungsträger dazu bewegen, umweltfreundliche Gesetze zu unterstützen. Eine von den Organisationen angewandte Strategie zur Verbesserung des Wertschöpfungsprozesses ist der Aufbau von Partnerschaften mit Unternehmen. Es wurden semi-strukturierte Interviews mit Leitern von sechs nationalen gemeinnützigen Umweltorganisationen in den USA durchgeführt, um die Quellen und Arten des Wertes zu untersuchen, der durch eine Zusammenarbeit mit Unternehmen für erneuerbare Energien geschaffen wurde, und um die erstrebenswerten Prozesse und Resultate der Partnerschaften zu erforschen. Ziel war es, zu einem Verständnis dahingehend zu gelangen, wie und warum gemeinnützige Umweltorganisationen Partnerschaften anstreben, was die potenziellen Vorteile sind und ob die Orientierung der Organisationsleitung, gekennzeichnet durch ihre Sichtweise der politischen Opportunitätsstruktur, der politischen Ideologie und der Umweltphilosophie, zu verschiedenen Auffassungen mit Hinblick auf Partnerschaften zur Schöpfung des Nachhaltigkeitswertes führt. Das Ergebnis, dass die unterschiedlichen Partnerschaftsperspektiven seitens der Organisationsführung nicht direkt mit den unterschiedlichen Orientierungen der Organisationsführung verbunden waren, weist darauf hin, dass keine der Orientierungen eine Partnerschaft generell ausschloss und dies in einigen Fällen sogar unter Umständen der Auslöser war.

Resumen

Muchas organizaciones medio ambientales sin ánimo de lucro (ENPO, por sus siglas en inglés) tratan de crear el valor de la sostenibilidad promoviendo principios medio ambientales e influyendo en los responsables políticos para que apoyen la legislación pro-medio ambiental. Una estrategia utilizada por las ENPO para mejorar el proceso de creación de valor es el desarrollo de asociaciones con empresas. Se realizaron entrevistas semiestructuradas con líderes de seis ENPO nacionales en los Estados Unidos para examinar las fuentes y tipos de valor creados mediante colaboraciones con empresas de energía renovable, y los procesos de asociación y los resultados que son más deseables. La meta era comprender cómo y por qué las ENPO buscan asociaciones, cuáles son los beneficios potenciales, y si la orientación del liderazgo o no, caracterizada por sus percepciones de la estructura de oportunidad política, la ideología política y la filosofía medio ambiental, llevaba a diferentes visiones de las asociaciones para la creación del valor de la sostenibilidad. El hallazgo de que las diferencias en las perspectivas de la asociación por el liderazgo de las ENPO no se vinculaban directamente a diferencias en las orientaciones de liderazgo sugiere que ninguna de las orientaciones descartaba el asociarse en general y pueden incluso haber sido facilitadoras en algunos casos.

摘要

许多环保非营利性组织(environmental nonprofit organizations (ENPOs))通过推广环保主义与促使政策制定者支持环保立法,以努力创造可持续性价值。为了改善价值创造的效果,ENPOs所采用的策略是与企业发展合作关系。对六名美国全国性的ENPOs领导进行了半结构化访问(semi-structured interviews),以检视通过与可再生能源企业合作所创造的价值的来源与类型以及最为可取的合作过程与结果。目标是了解:ENPOs寻求合作的方式与原因;潜在益处是什么;ENPO领导的取向(其特征由其对政治机遇结构、政治意识形态以及环保理念的感知所决定)是否导致关于可持续性价值创造的不同观点。研究结果显示,ENPO领导的合作关系观点的差异并不与领导取向的差异直接相关,这表示,总体而言,没有任何取向会阻止合作关系的建立,在某些情况下,这些差异甚至有促进作用。

ملخص

تسعى العديد من المنظمات الغير ربحية البيئية (ENPOs) إلى خلق قيمة الإستدامة من خلال تعزيز المبادئ البيئية والتأثير على صناع القرارلدعم التشريعات البيئية المؤيدة. إحدى الإستراتيجيات التي تستخدمها المنظمات الغير ربحية البيئية(ENPOs) لتعزيز عملية خلق القيمة هي إقامة شراكات مع الأعمال التجارية. أجريت مقابلات شبه منظمة مع قادة ستة من المنظمات الغير ربحية البيئية (ENPOs) الوطنية في الولايات المتحدة لدراسة مصادر وأنواع القيمة التي أنشأها التعاون مع شركات الطاقة المتجددة، وإجراءات الشراكة والنتائج التي هي المرغوب فيها. كان الهدف هو فهم كيف ولماذا تسعى المنظمات الغير ربحية البيئية (ENPOs) للشراكات، ما هي الفوائد المحتملة، أوعدمها للمنظمات الغير ربحية البيئية (ENPOs) لتوجيه القيادة، كما تتميز تصوراتهم للبنية السياسية فرصة أو إيديولوجية سياسية، والفلسفة البيئية، أدت إلى وجهات نظرمختلفة لشراكات لخلق قيمة الإستدامة. النتيجة التي مفادها أن الإختلافات في وجهات نظر شراكة المنظمات الغير ربحية البيئية (ENPOs) لم يربط مباشرة إلى إختلافات في توجهات القيادة تشير إلى أن أي من التوجهات يمنع الشراكة بشكل عام، بل وربما كانت العوامل المساعدة في بعض الحالات.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • AL-Tabbaa, O., Leach, D., & March, J. (2014). Collaboration between nonprofit and business sectors: A framework to guide strategy development for nonprofit organizations. Voluntas, 25, 657–678.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Andrews, K. T., & Edwards, B. (2004). Advocacy organizations in the US Policy process. Annual Review of Sociology, 30, 479–506.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Andrews, K. T., & Edwards, B. (2005). The organizational structure of local environmentalism. Mobilization, 10, 213–234.

    Google Scholar 

  • Austin, J. E., & Seitanidi, M. M. (2012a). Collaborative value creation: A review of partnering between nonprofits and businesses: Part 1. Value creation spectrum and collaboration stages. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 41(5), 726–758.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Austin, J. E., & Seitanidi, M. M. (2012b). Collaborative value creation: A review of partnering between nonprofits and businesses: Part 2. Partnership processes and outcomes. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 41(6), 929–968.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Austin, J. E., & Seitanidi, M. M. (2014). Creating value in nonprofit-business collaborations: New thinking and practice. San Francisco: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Backstrand, K. (2006). Multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable development: Rethinking legitimacy, accountability and effectiveness. European Environment, 16(5), 290–306.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Baur, D., & Schmitz, H. (2011). Corporations and NGOs: When accountability leads to co-optation. Journal of Business Ethics, 106, 9–21.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Billings, L. (1971). Sierra Club 1970: New chapters, groups, growth and change. Sierra, 56, 20–22.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bingham, T., & Walters, J. (2012). Financial sustainability within UK charities: Community sport trusts and corporate social responsibility partnerships. Voluntas. doi:10.1007/s11266-012-9275-z.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bruce, A. B., & Shwom, R. L. (2015). Friend or foe? Why US energy efficiency nonprofits collaborate with business and government. Environmental Sociology, 1(1), 48–58.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brulle, R. J. (1995). Agency, democracy, and the environment: An examination of US environmental organizations from the perspective of critical theory. PhD dissertation, George Washington University.

  • Brulle, R. J. (1996). Environmental discourse and social movement organizations: A historical and rhetorical perspective on the development of US environmental organizations. Sociological Inquiry, 66(1), 58–83.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bucklin, L. P., & Sengupta, S. (1993). Organizing successful co-marketing alliances. Journal of Marketing, 57, 32–46.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Carmin, J., & Balser, D. B. (2002). Selecting repertoires of action in environmental movement organizations: An interpretive approach. Organization Environment, 15, 365–388.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chiras, D. D., & Reganold, J. P. (2010). Natural resource conservation: Management for a sustainable future (10th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dalton, R. J. (1994). The green rainbow: Environmental groups in Western Europe. New Haven: Yale University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dalton, R. J., Recchia, S., & Rohrschneider, R. (2003). The environmental movement and the modes of political action. Comparative Political Studies, 36(7), 743–771.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dees, J. G., & Anderson, B. B. (2003). Sector-bending: Blurring lines between nonprofit and for-profit. Society, 40(4), 16–27.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Den Hond, F., De Bakker, F. G. A., & Doh, J. (2012). What prompts companies to collaboration with NGOs? Recent evidence from the Netherlands. Business & Society, 54, 187–228. doi:10.1177/0007650312439549.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Des Jardins, J. R. (1997). Environmental ethics: An introduction to environmental philosophy. Belmont: Wadsworth.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dickinson, S., & Barker, A. (2007). Evaluations of branding alliances between non-profit and commercial brand partners: The transfer effect. International Journal of Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Marketing, 12, 75–89.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dunlap, R. E., & Mertig, A. G. (Eds.). (1992). American environmentalism: The US environmental movement, 1970-1990. Philadelphia: Taylor and Francis.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gazley, B. (2008). Beyond the contract: The scope and nature of informal government-nonprofit partnerships. Public Administration Review, 68(1), 141–154.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gazley, B., & Brudney, J. L. (2007). The purpose (and perils) of government-nonprofit partnership. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 36(3), 389–415.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Glasbergen, P., & Groenenberg, R. (2001). Environmental partnerships in sustainable energy. European Environment, 11(1), 1–13.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gliedt, T., & Parker, P. (2014). Green community entrepreneurship 2.0: Collective response or individual adaptation strategy to funding cuts in Canada (2006-2012). International Journal of Social Economics, 41(7), 609–625.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gliedt, T., Parker, P., & Lynes, J. (2010). Strategic partnerships: Community climate change partners and resilience to funding cuts. In J. Quarter, S. Ryan, & L. Mook (Eds.), Researching the social economy (pp. 201–222). Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gullberg, A. T. (2008). Lobbying friends and foes in climate policy: The case of business and environmental interest groups in the European Union. Energy Policy, 36(8), 2964–2972.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Handy, F. (2001). Advocacy by environmental nonprofit organizations: An optimal strategy for addressing environmental problems? International Journal of Social Economics, 28(8), 648–666.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Johnson, E. (2006). Changing issue representation among major United States environmental movement organizations. Rural Sociology, 71(1), 132–154.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kim, S. E., & Urpelainen, J. (2013). When and how can advocacy groups promote new technologies? Conditions and strategies for effectiveness. Journal of Public Policy, 33(3), 259–293.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kitchell, A., Kempton, W., Holland, D., & Tesch, D. (2000). Identities and actions within environmental groups. Human Ecology Review, 7(2), 1–20.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lefroy, K., & Tsarenko, Y. (2012). From receiving to achieving: The role of relationship and dependence for nonprofit organizations in corporate partnerships. European Journal of Marketing, 47(10), 1641–1666.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McAlexander, J., & Koenig, H. (2012). Building communities of philanthropy in higher education: Contextual influences. International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 17, 122–131.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McLaughlin, P., & Khawaja, M. (2000). The organizational dynamics of the US environmental movement: Legitimation, resource mobilization, and political opportunity. Rural Sociology, 65(3), 422–439.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Michaelowa, A. (2005). The German wind energy lobby: How to promote costly technological change successfully. European Environment, 15, 192–199.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1984). Qualitative data analysis. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Milne, G. R., Iyer, E. S., & Gooding-Williams, S. (1996). Environmental organization alliance relationships within and across nonprofit, business, and government sectors. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 15, 203–215.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mitchell, R. C., Mertig, A. G., & Dunlap, R. E. (1992). In R. E. Dunlap & A. G. Mertig (Eds.), Twenty years of environmental mobilization: Trends among national environmental organizations in american environmentalism. Philadelphia: Taylor and Francis.

    Google Scholar 

  • Moe, E. (2010). Energy, industry and politics: Energy, vested interests, and long-term economic growth and development. Energy, 35, 1730–1740.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Oliver, P. E., & Johnston, H. (2000). What a good idea! Ideologies and frames in social movement research. Mobilization, 4(1), 37–54.

    Google Scholar 

  • Orti, L. (1995). Environmental alliances: Critical factors for success. New York: The Conference Board.

    Google Scholar 

  • Phillips, S. (2012). Canadian leapfrog: From regulating charitable fundraising to co-regulating good governance. Voluntas, 23, 1–22.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rondinelli, D. A., & Berry, M. A. (1997). Industry’s role in air quality improvement: Environmental management opportunities for the 21st century. Environmental Quality Management, 7(4), 31–44.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rondinelli, D. A., & London, T. (2003). How corporations and environmental groups cooperate: Assessing cross-sector alliances and collaborations. Academy of Management Executive, 17(1), 61–76.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sanzo, M. J., Álvarez, L. I., Rey, M., & García, N. (2015). Business–nonprofit partnerships: A new form of collaboration in a corporate responsibility and social innovation context. Service Business, 9, 1–26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schilling, M. A., & Esmundo, M. (2009). Technology S-curves in renewable energy alternatives. Energy Policy, 37, 1767–1781.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schneiberg, M., King, M., & Smith, T. (2008). Social movements and organizational form: Cooperative alternatives to corporations in the American insurance, dairy and grain industries. American Sociological Review, 73, 635–667.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Seitanidi, M. M. (2010). The politics of partnerships. A critical examination of nonprofit-business partnerships. New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Seitanidi, M. M., & Crane, A. (2008). Implementing CSR through partnerships: Understanding the selection, design and institutionalization of nonprofit-business partnerships. Journal of Business Ethics, 85(2), 413–429.

    Google Scholar 

  • Seitanidi, M. M., & Ryan, A. (2007). A critical review of forms of corporate community involvement: From philanthropy to partnerships. International Journal of Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Marketing, 12, 247–266.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shwom, R. (2015). Nonprofit-business partnering dynamics in the energy efficiency field. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 44(3), 564–586.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Simpson, D., Lefroy, K., & Tsarenko, Y. (2011). Together and apart: Exploring the structure of the corporate-NPO relationship. Journal of Business Ethics, 101, 297–311.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sine, W. D., & Lee, B. H. (2009). Tilting at windmills? The environmental movement and the emergence of the US wind energy sector. Administrative Science Quarterly, 54, 123–155.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Szarka, J. (2013). From climate advocacy to public engagement: An exploration of the roles of environmental non-governmental organizations. Climate, 1, 12–17.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tarrow, S. (1998). Power in movement: Social movements and contentious politics. New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Vasi, I. B. (2011). Winds of Change: The environmental movement and the global development of the wind energy industry. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Travis Gliedt.

Ethics declarations

Funding

The authors received no funding for this research.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lyakhov, A., Gliedt, T. Understanding Collaborative Value Creation by Environmental Nonprofit and Renewable Energy Business Partnerships. Voluntas 28, 1448–1472 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-016-9691-6

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-016-9691-6

Keywords

  • Environmental nonprofits
  • Renewable energy
  • Partnerships
  • Collaborative value creation
  • Sustainability