Collaboration for sustainability : a qualitative study of the objectives, enablers and barriers for collaborations entered with regard to sustainability
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- Master Thesis 
There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals set to be achieved by 2030, and business collaboration is emphasized as important in achieving these goals. Business actors are encouraged to collaborate and they themselves consider collaboration as necessary and acknowledge the potential gains. However, studies show that collaboration can be challenging and only a small number of businesses who have entered into sustainability collaborations consider them to be successful. The purpose of this thesis is to provide insight into what characterizes sustainability collaborations, how companies can succeed with such collaborations and increase their sustainability impact through these collaborations. This thesis is based on a multiple case study, using qualitative data collection. The main cases in this study are Norsk Gjenvinning, Heldal Eiendom, REMA 1000 and NCE Seafood Innovation Cluster. We have interviewed respondents from each of these companies as well as several of their collaborating partners. In total, 17 companies and one researcher from the University of Bergen contributed to this thesis. Through the interviews, we identified what characterizes sustainability collaborations, what motives companies have to enter such collaborations and how collaborating partners can facilitate different success factors to successfully increase their sustainability impact through the collaboration. We find that sustainability collaborations are characterized by (1) addressing real, pressing and businessrelated sustainability problems; (2) the partners having sustainability integrated in overall company strategy; (3) a long-term perspective; (4) cross-sector relationships, and; (5) early trust-based relationships. The findings provide empirical evidence to suggest that companies can benefit from both competency- and legitimacy-oriented motives, but that the former is likely to create greater environmental and financial success. We find that sustainability collaborations and related initiatives are largely internally driven and motivated by exploiting business opportunities, gaining access to valuable competencies and technologies and asserting themselves in competition. Furthermore, we find that the success factors ± personal relations, competence building, governance and control, and internal and external conditions ± are of significance to the success of the partnership. By managing and maintaining these success factors over time, companies can create motivation and ensure that all involved parties are committed to remain in the collaboration and realize its sustainability goals.