Reflections on 10 Years of Cross-Sector Partnership, from acclaimed analysts Peter Newell, Steve Waddell and Saleem H Ali.
10 years following publication of “Terms for Endearment: Business, NGOs and Sustainable Development” we share reflections from 3 experts in cross-sector partnering, who contributed to the original book. Their chapters are available for free from Greenleaf to mark the anniversary (see the links below). The reflections are from Professor Peter Newell, a leading academic commentator on climate governance Steve Waddell begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting, a leading convening and advisor of global action networks, and Associate Professor Saleem Ali, a leading analyst of responsible mining. All of these engaged and engaging intellectuals call for a serious reflection on what cross-sector partnering is achieving with a view to more ambitious system-change oriented collaborations.
Reflections from Professor Andrew Crane, along with information on a new journal on the pitfalls and future of partnering that is co-edited by Jem Bendell (the editor of Terms for Endearment), is available online. Terms for Endearment is half price until the end of this anniversary year. Bendell’s new book on transformative partnering will be published later this year.
Peter Newell: Reflections on “Globalisation and the new politics of sustainable development”
When I wrote my contribution for the book Terms of Endearment I was working as a Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University and interested in how globalisation in all its forms impacted upon our collective ability to meet the challenges of sustainable development. This basic concern continues to underpin my work on the role of business and markets in environmental governance and particularly the ways in which this can be made to work for the benefit of poorer and excluded groups.
For me this book in many ways captured a particular moment around the late 1990s in which NGOs and TNCs were encountering one another in novel and innovative ways through collaboration and engagement as well as conflict and protest around issues of social and environmental responsibility in a global(ising) economy. While the novelty of the encounter is no longer there for many companies or civil society groups, the agenda of civil regulation and corporate social and environmental responsibility has evolved in a series of interesting directions which have brought with them new challenges. Despite the critiques and cynicism regarding the worth or CSR measures, many of them valid, they continue to proliferate and develop in new sectors and areas of the world going well beyond ‘do no harm’ to tackling complex development issues such as corruption and mineral extraction. As they have done so the boundaries between the responsibilities of states and corporations in particular have become very blurred especially in the many parts of the world where state capacity is weak or effectively not existent. Together with other colleagues I have explored the challenges of what CSR can and cannot do for development in special issues of the journal International Affairs (2005) Third World Quarterly (2007) and Development and Change (2008).
The depth and reach of CSR now has to address new geo-political and economic realities to do with the rise of countries with relatively recent or weak traditions of CSR such as China and India, whose firms compete with many European and North American firms that have taken on board the importance of CSR, but where many of the drivers of CSR (threat of regulation, shareholder activism, civil society pressure are less apparent). It also has to deal with the reality that that the very basis on which growth is fuelled (literally) has to change if we are to address climate change effectively. Simply put, business as usual cannot be sustained. Climate change an issue which has shot up the agenda of many companies, initially as threat but increasingly also for many as an opportunity to meet rising demand for low-carbon goods and services. But determining, calculating and allocating responsibility in a highly inter-dependent, yet highly unequal, global economy presents a challenge of staggering proportions. These issues have been explored in recent books on Governing Climate Change and Climate Capitalism.
Since writing my contribution to Terms of Endearment I have looked into the role of businesses as political actors in relation to specific issues such as crop biotechnologies and climate change, looked at their CSR activities in country-settings such as India and Argentina and sought to move the debate from one about discretional responsibility to one about accountability and the nature of the social contract between state, market and civil society. I have worked with many different businesses, NGOs, international institutions and research organisations in relation to specific aspects of these issues. My current job as Professor of International Development at the University of East Anglia and membership of the board of trustees at the One World Trust allows me to work with such an interesting range of actors in this field. But I continue to be driven by an underlying interest in whether, how and when markets can be made to address poverty alleviation and environmental degradation which defines my research, teaching and advocacy. For me this basic concern will determine whether collectively we can respond to ‘wicked’ problems such as hunger, poverty and environmental degradation. Let’s hope that in another ten years we have made more progress than in the last ten years since the book was published.
Read Peter’s chapter for free at: http://www.greenleaf-publishing.com/content/pdfs/terms_newell.pdf
Steve Waddell: Reflections on “Complementary resources: the win-win rationale for partnership with NGOs”
The original piece was the product of an intense period of questioning about the legitimacy and value of distinguishing between business, government and civil society. Why three sectors, and not four? Where do they come from? Are they global, or a product of just Western or industrial/post-industrial economies? What opportunities might they present, if their core competencies are truly distinctive and well understood? How can they work together to respond to the deep change challenges represented by sustainability insights? I was fortunate to have received substantial funding to carry out these investigations globally.
The end of this period of work in terms of publishing came in 2005 with my book Societal Learning and Change. The meta-level learning is represented by the Societal Learning and Change matrix. One of its implications is that societal-level change requires engagement across the sectors. And it requires change in individuals, organizations, the sectors themselves and the three key systems of society.
The Societal Learning and Change Matrix
Societal – Political Systems – Economic Systems – Social Systems
Sectoral – The State Sector – The Market Sector – The Social Sector
Organizational – Government agencies – Businesses – Community-based Orgs.
Individual – Mentally centered – Physically centered – Emotionally centered
One key insight came from work by Sandra Seagal (Human Dynamics) and many educators who classify individuals as being dominantly one of three types of learners:
- The mentally-centered learners deal with abstractions and concepts (like the Table!); they tend to dominate government organizations which are charged with developing laws and enforcing them by deciding whether people are acting inside or outside of “the rules”.
- The physically-centered learners (kinesthetic) learn by seeing, touching and feeling – they are the “seeing-is-believing” people who tend to dominate business which focuses on physical, quantifiable outcomes.
- The emotionally-centered learners are those who know reality when they feel it in their hearts, and when they are emotionally moved. These people tend to dominate community-based organizations that work on issues of justice, culture and long-term sustainability.
This means that the differences between business, government and civil society arise from inherent differences in individuals, and the way they make sense of the world and learn. Therefore embracing diversity should include embracing these different ways of making sense of the world. Change strategies must respond to these different ways of making sense.
The end of this period in terms of my work came in 2000, when I made a modest contribution to a report to Kofi Annan titled Critical Choices: The United Nations, networks, and the future of global governance. This led me to the past decade of work with global multi-stakeholder change networks I call Global Action Networks (GANs). This period of work is being summarized in a book coming out the fall of 2010 titled Global Action Networks: Creating our future together. These GANs represent a major organizational innovation, as different from the three sectors as they are from each other. They include the Forest Stewardship Council, Transparency International and the Global Compact. They are forming an increasingly dense network of global, cross-sector and cross-issue connections. This web of business, government and civil society organizations is perhaps our best hope for addressing the profound challenges facing our planet, and creating a wealthy, just and sustainable future.
Read Steve’s chapter for free at: http://www.greenleaf-publishing.com/content/pdfs/terms_waddell.pdf
Saleem H Ali: Reflections on Shades of green: mining, NGOs and the pursuit of negotiating power
A decade ago when I wrote my contribution for Jem Bendell’s edited volume “Terms of Endearment,” I was a doctoral student at MIT and just beginning to delve into research on environmental resistance movements to mining development. The tenuous relationships between NGOs, Businesses and Government were beginning to be studied by social scientists and Bendell’s volume was among the earliest to consider the topic from an integrative management perspective. Much has changed since the publication of the book. Large environmental NGOs have become far more willing to embrace corporate partnerships and this has led to some fractures within civil society. Smaller and more politically strident NGOs are critiquing the big players of “selling out” and being accomplices in “greenwash.” Indigenous identity, which was the topic of my chapter in the volume, has acquired greater salience since the establishment of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous People, and national apology resolutions to Aboriginal peoples in Australia and the United States. Indeed, the fracturing of environmental narratives along indigenous rights versus environmental conservation have become more acute.
Reevaluating the partnerships between NGOs and the business community in these troubled times is urgently needed. Businesses and NGOs need to assess their “Terms of Endearment” with a retrospective that considers the shortcomings of the relationship between the private sector and civil society. Moving from positional idealism to principled pragmatism is essential in this regard. Novel transnational accountability systems, such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) are beginning to emerge and deserve our attention for further study and reflection. New forms of civil society organizations such as the Publis What You Pay Coalition and the Revenue Watch Institute are coupling their efforts with such para-governmental and industry-led efforts. The success of such collaborations will depend on going back to some of the fundamental lessons in “Terms of Endearment.”
Read Saleem’s chapter for free at: http://www.greenleaf-publishing.com/content/pdfs/terms_ali.pdf
Other Free Sections from the Book:
Foreword, Anita Roddick, then Founder and Co-Chair, The Body Shop International; Founder, New Academy of Business, UK
Foreword, Georg Kell, then Senior Officer, Executive Office of the United Nations Secretary-General.
Foreword, Kumi Naidoo, then President, CIVICUS
Introduction: Working with stakeholder pressure for sustainable development, Jem Bendell, Director, Lifeworth and Lifeworth Consulting, and Associate Professor, Griffith Business School.
Biographies of the contributors:
Peter Newell, Professor of International Development. Peter is an academic, consultant, teacher and activist working on the politics of environment and development. He has previously worked at Friends of the Earth, Climate Network Europe and for academic institutions in the UK and Argentina including Oxford, Warwick and Sussex universities and FLACSO Argentina. He is currently Professor of International Development at the University of East Anglia and in 2008 was awarded an ESRC Climate Change Leadership Fellow to work on The Governance of Clean Development (www.clean-development.com). His work on CSR and corporate accountability has been published in journals such as Development and Change, Third World Quarterly and International Affairs. On climate change he has conducted research and policy work for the governments of the UK, Sweden and Finland as well as international organisations such as UNDP and GEF. His books include Climate for Change: Non State Actors and the Global Politics of the Greenhouse (CUP, 2000) The Business of Global Environmental Governance (MIT Press, 2005) Rights, Resources and the Politics of Accountability (Zed Books, 2006) Climate Capitalism (CUP, 2010) and Governing Climate Change (Routledge, 2010).
Steve Waddell, Principal, Networking Action. Responding to the 21st century’s enormous global challenges and its unsurpassed opportunities require new ways of acting and organizing. Through NetworkingAction I respond to these opportunities with consulting, education, research, and personal leadership. I focus upon business-government-civil society collaborations to produce innovation, enhance impact, and build new capacity. This may be local, national and/or global; the issue arenas are varied. I have done this for more than 20 years. Two key concepts are associated with my work: “societal learning and change,” which is a deep change strategy to address chronic and complex issues; and Global Action Networks (GANs), which are an emerging form of global governance that addresses issues requiring deep change. I have many publications, including the book Societal Learning and Change: Innovation with Multi-Stakeholder Strategies (2005); another book, Networking Action: Organizing for the 21st Century, is in development. I have a Ph.D. in sociology and an MBA.
Saleem H. Ali is associate professor of environmental planning at the University of Vermont (USA) and the author most recently of “Treasures of the Earth; Need, Greed and a Sustainable Future.” (Yale University Press, 2009). http://www.treasurebook.info