Collaboration Challenge: How Nonprofits and Businesses Succeed Through Strategic Alliances / Edition 1

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Overview

Presented by The Drucker Foundation

"Austin has uncovered the common elements and key strategies that make for effective collaborations.... In The Collaboration Challenge, he illuminates these key lessons for all leaders, and makes it possible for each of us to meet the collaboration challenge."
Frances Hesselbein, chairman of the board of governors, The Drucker Foundation, and John C. Whitehead, founder, The John C. Whitehead Fund for Not-for-Profit Management, Harvard Business School

"Austin has performed a valuable service for nonprofit organizations and their corporate partners by illuminating the dynamics of successful relationships. His useful book deserves to be widely read by leaders in both sectors concerned about increasing the effectiveness of their social action agenda."
Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School, author of World Class and Rosabeth Moss Kanter on the Frontiers of Management

"The entire nonprofit sector has been searching for the expertise and tools this book provides. Nothing else like it exists."
Bill Shore, executive director of Share-Our-Strength and author of The Cathedral Within and Revolution of the Heart

In these complex times, when no organization can succeed alone, nonprofits and businesses are embracing collaboration for mutual benefits. Nonprofits are partnering with businesses to further their missions, develop resources, strengthen programs, and thrive in the competitive world. Companies are also discovering that alliances with nonprofits generate significant rewards: increased customer preference, improved employee morale, greater brand identity, stronger corporate culture, and higher innovation.

In this timely and insightful book, James E. Austin provides a practical framework for understanding how traditional philanthropic relationships can be transformed into powerful strategic alliances. He offers advice and lessons drawn from the experiences of numerous collaborations, including Timberland and City Year; Starbucks and CARE; Georgia-Pacific and The Nature Conservancy; MCI WorldCom and The National Geographic Society; Reebok and Amnesty International; and Hewlett-Packard and the National Science Resource Center.

Readers will learn how to:

  • Find and connect with high-potential partners
  • Ensure strategic fit with the partner's mission and values
  • Generate greater value for each partner and society
  • Manage the partnering relationship effectively
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Austin has uncovered the common elements and key strategies that make for effective collaborations.... He gained unprecedented access to the decision makers who instituted and managed these alliances and who provide firsthand accounts of their successes, trials, and lessons learned.... In The Collaboration Challenge, he illuminates these key lessons for all leaders, and makes it possible for each of us to meet the collaboration challenge."
Frances Hesselbein, chairman of the board of governors, The Drucker Foundation, and John C. Whitehead, founder, The John C. Whitehead Fund for Not-for-Profit Management, Harvard Business School

"Austin has performed a valuable service for nonprofit organizations and their corporate partners by illuminating the dynamics of successful relationships. His useful book deserves to be widely read by leaders in both sectors concerned about increasing the effectiveness of their social action agenda."
Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School, author of World Class and Rosabeth Moss Kanter on the Frontiers of Management

"The entire nonprofit sector has been searching for the expertise and tools this book provides. Nothing else like it exists."
Bill Shore, executive director of Share-Our-Strength and author of The Cathedral Within and Revolution of the Heart

"It's hard to imagine managers crafting a leading partnership and not applying all this book has to offer. It does a fantastic job in offering leaders crisp principles to be applied in navigating the landscape of collaborations."
Ken Freitas, vice president of social enterprise, Timberland Company

"Superbly provides a framework of order and understanding. I wish I had had this book to share with staff and board members during my tenure at Outward Bound. It will accelerate the coming together of the sectors."
Allen Grossman, Bloomberg Senior Lecturer in Philanthropy, Harvard University, and former CEO of Outward Bound

"The book provides wonderful case studies, strong insights, and solid frameworks that I plan to use in my own nonprofit course next year."
Marc Lindenberg, dean and professor, Evans School of Public Affairs, University of Washington, and former senior vice president of CARE

"A very timely book of landmark collaborations between nonprofits and businesses set within conceptual frameworks that provide both academics and practitioners guidance on how to make alliances better."
Alan R. Andreasen, professor of marketing, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, and author of Marketing Social Change

Booknews
Austin (business administration, Harvard University) offers guidance on establishing and managing strategic alliances that are effective and mutually beneficial. He examines approximately 15 collaborations, including those between Timberland and City Year, Starbucks and CARE, Georgia-Pacific and The Nature Conservancy, MCI WorldCom and The National Geographic Society, and Reebok and Amnesty International. He articulates the features that made these alliances work, and gives advice on finding partners, forming partnerships, and managing them successfully. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

JAMES E. AUSTIN is the John G. McLean Professor of Business Administration and Chair of the Harvard Business School Initiative onSocial Enterprise.

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Read an Excerpt

Guidelines for Collaborating Successfully

Creating and developing strategic alliances between nonprofits and corporations involves entrepreneurial and managerial challenges of the highest order. Successfully meeting those challenges earns commensurate rewards. Assuming that there are simple, standard steps that one can rigidly follow cloaks the inherent complexity of partnering and courts disaster. Effective collaboration ultimately involves jointly tailoring a garment that fits the unique characteristics and needs of the partners. This chapter keeps this imperative clearly in mind as it synthesizes from the previous chapters a set of guidelines for those who would build alliances between the nonprofit and corporate worlds. I call these guidelines to cross-sector alliance the seven C's of strategic collaboration. Exhibit 8.1, at the end of the chapter, offers a consolidated checklist of questions for organizations applying the seven C's guidelines.

CONNECTION with Purpose and People

Purpose and people are primary in the collaborations we have examined. Alliances are successful when key individuals connect personally and emotionally with the alliance's social purpose and with each other.

CLARITY of Purpose Above all, collaborators need to be clear about the purpose of joint undertakings. Because of the social goodness of these projects, businesspeople sometimes are lax in setting clear objectives, when exactly the opposite is needed. The rigor and discipline that companies apply to clearly targeted business investments are also vital to the crafting of social purpose partnerships. Vagueness or ambiguity will cloud the vision of the undertaking and may breed confusion or even conflict. To help ensure clarity of purpose, prospective partners should jointly prepare a written collaboration purpose statement. As both the processes and the end product (the statement) can benefit a partnership, it is important that the partners be explicit about what they expect to take from their relationship. Partners should also identify where on the Collaboration Continuum a proposed or existing relationship falls and where they would like it to fall.

CONGRUENCY of Mission, Strategy, and Values

As an extension of clarifying purpose, partnering organizations should identify areas of alignment between their missions, strategies, and values. Engaging early in conversations about alignment is essential to building a solid foundation for collaboration. The closer the alignment, the greater the potential gains from collaboration. Overlap is more likely than total congruency, but where fit is largely or completely lacking, collaboration is ill advised.

CREATION of Value

High-performance collaborations are about much more than giving and receiving money. They are about mobilizing and combining multiple resources and capabilities to generate benefits for both partners and social value for society. Partners need to systematically focus on defining, generating, balancing, and renewing value. The Collaboration Value Construct (Chapter Five) provides a means for both partners to jointly and explicitly specify the benefits they expect to obtain from collaboration. Do not assume that your interests will be implicitly known by your partner or that your partner's interests will be implicitly known by you. Partners are well advised to ask continually what they can do for one another and to avoid fixating on what their partner is going to do for them.

For alliances to retain their vitality and mutual engagement, benefit flows must be two-way and relatively balanced. Knowing when they are balanced is complicated by the fact that individual partner's benefits differ in kind and weighting. Unlike commercial partnerships' benefits, which are often reducible to monetary terms, cross-sector alliances deal in multiple currencies, some of which are difficult to quantify. Consequently, it is important that partners consult about whether net benefit flows are adequate and balanced. A sense of equitable reciprocity is essential to partners' continuing interest in investing in the relationship. A significant imbalance risks creating excessive dependency or subjecting one partner to undue influence from the other.

COMMUNICATION Between Partners

Even in the presence of good personal relations and emotional connections, strategic fit, and successful value creation, a partnership is without a solid foundation if it lacks an effective ongoing communication process. Good communication is essential to building trust, and trust is the intangible that makes a collaboration cohesive. To develop mutual respect and trust takes time, effort, and action. Trust also presupposes a genuine appreciation by the partners for each other's activities. Communication should be honest, forthright, frequent, and meaningful. The power of openness in social purpose collaborations, particularly in integrative stage relationships, is in evidence in the examples in the earlier chapters. Constructive criticism should be welcome but is possible only in open and supportive relationships. A good rule is to never surprise your partner; involve one another early on in the planning for all actions that affect the partnership. Resist the temptation to withdraw in the event of a crisis in either organization. Instead, intensify communication, particularly if the situation might adversely affect the reputation or relationship of the partners.

CONTINUAL Learning

Collaboration must be viewed as dynamic. Although systematic analysis and planning are desirable, a partnership's evolution cannot be completely planned or entirely predicted. Partners should view alliances as learning laboratories and cultivate a discovery ethic that supports continual learning.

COMMITMENT to the Partnership

Because partnerships increase in scope, scale, strategic importance, and operational complexity as they advance along the Collaboration Continuum, partners must be prepared to ratchet up their personal, institutional, and resource commitments accordingly. A strategic alliance being a deep relationship, not a deal, partners should take a long-term perspective. Short-term alliances can be useful but tend to be more tactical than strategic.

Toward the Future

Cross-sector collaborations will grow at an increasing rate. These alliances between nonprofits and corporations hold considerable potential for enhancing business and nonprofit performance and for generating social value. This book has tapped the world of practice to glean insights that will deepen our understanding of the partnering process and its many challenges. It is hoped that the conceptual framework and analyses will provide helpful guidance to corporate and nonprofit leaders striving to develop and manage high-performance alliances. Additionally, it is hoped that this research will spur other academics to explore this important social enterprise arena. The age of alliances is upon us. For those with vision and entrepreneurial spirit, the path of social purpose partnering will lead to mutual gains and produce significant benefits for society.

CONNECTION with Others

CLARITY of purpose

CONGRUENCY of Mission

CREATION of value

COMMUNICATION

CONTINUAL

Commitment What is the level of organizational commitment to the partnership and how is this commitment demonstrated? Note: Prepared with the assistance of Linda Carrigan.
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Table of Contents

Foreword vii
Frances Hesselbein and John C. Whitehead

Preface xi

1. The Strategic Benefits of Alliances 1

2. Understanding Strategic Collaboration 19

3. Making the Connection 41

4. Ensuring Strategic Fit 61

5. Generating Value 87

6. Managing the Relationship 121

7. Collaboration Drivers and Enablers: Jumpstart and American Eagle Outfitters 147

8. Guidelines for Collaborating Successfully 173

Notes 189

The Author 193

Index 195

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