Third Annual (2020) IACMR Responsible Research in Management Award Distinguished Winners (3)



This book focuses on the role multistakeholder partnerships (MSP) can provide to alleviate complex social problems, especially the “wicked” problems that defy resolution and cannot be solved by one sector alone.  Drawing on three comprehensive cases and countless shorter examples from around the world, the book offers both practical advice for organizations embarking on an MSP, as well as, a theoretical understanding of how partnerships function. Using an institutional theory lens, it explains how partnerships can effect change in institutional fields by reducing turbulence and negotiating a common set of norms and routines to govern partners’ future interactions within the field of concern.  This book provides a comprehensive understanding of MSPs, why they are needed, the challenges partners face in working together, and how to design them effectively. Through the process of collaboration partners combine their differing strengths, vantage points and expertise to craft innovative responses to pressing societal concerns. The book highlights the potential for partnerships to bring change to societal norms, practices, and relational networks that govern stakeholders’roles in relation to specific complex problems and offers valuable advice to leaders on how to design and scale up effective partnerships, and how to address potential obstacles that partners may face.



This study sought to distinguish corporations that are able to investigate and vouch for their supply chains from those who are not. The Section 1502 of Dodd-Frank Act gave firms three years to determine and report on whether their products contained “conflict minerals” from the Democratic Republic of Congo area. An analysis of every conflict minerals report submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission by over 1,300 corporations found that almost 80% admitted they were unable to determine the country of origin of such materials, and only 1% could certify themselves conflict-free with certainty beyond reasonable doubt. Moreover, internationally diversified firms and those with large and more dispersed supply chains were less likely to declare their products conflict-free: complexity reduces the visibility of a firm’s supply chain. The results suggest that wide spread outsourcing may have reduced the corporate sector’s capacity to account for the practices that yield its products. The findings indicated the more complex and diversified the supply chain system, the more likely “conflict minerals” were part of the firms’ process.



Increasingly, entrepreneurs seek to address deep-rooted societal challenges through hybrid organizations that pursue dual social and business missions. Yet successfully sustaining such hybrids is challenging, as leaders face ongoing tensions between social and business demands. This study identifies practices and processes through which leaders manage these competing demands and sustain dual missions over time. To do so, it draws on in-depth data from the first 10 years (2001-2010) of Digital Divide Data (DDD), a digital content and technology services provider that employs underserved youth in Southeast Asia and Africa, creating sustainable economic opportunities through a profit-generating business. Using DDD as an exemplar, the paper highlights two key practices. First, “organizational guardrails”, which include dedicated skills and expertise, roles, structures, metrics, and stakeholder relationships associated with each mission, prevent leaders from focusing on one mission to the extent of the other, functioning like guardrails on a road to keep the organization within boundaries. Second, “paradoxical frames”, which involve shared perceptions of social and business missions as synergistic not just contradictory, help leaders to accept tensions and experiment with alternative approaches for pursuing dual missions. Together, these practices sustain dual missions through a process of “structured flexibility”, in which leaders make ongoing shifts in organizational decisions and practices to navigate competing social and business demands within the boundaries set by organizational guardrails, ultimately serving both missions not just one or the other. Since publication the paper’s findings have been featured in the Harvard Business Review and Stanford Social Innovation Review and are used as a case study in MBA and executive education courses.