Business contributions to the sustainable development goals through community sustainability partnerships

Eduardo Ordonez-Ponce, Amelia Clarke, Adriane MacDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This study aims to understand how businesses can contribute to the achievement of the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) by implementing Local Agenda 21 (or equivalent) plans in partnership with other organizations situated in their city. To this end, the present study examines drivers and outcomes from the perspective of business partners, as well as their relationships to the SDGs. Design/methodology/approach: Through a mixed-methods approach this research studies 71 businesses from four large cross-sector partnerships formed to achieve local sustainability goals. Data were collected through a survey to determine why firms partner and what outcomes they obtain from partnering. Qualitative content analyses are used to determine the relationships between business drivers and outcomes from partnering for local sustainability and the SDGs. Findings: From a resource-based view (RBV) perspective, findings show the value of local sustainability partnerships in relation to the SDGs. Many SDG targets are aligned with the top reasons why businesses join large community sustainability partnerships. Also, through the outcomes achieved by participating in the partnership businesses can further the SDGs. Research limitations/implications: This research contributes to the literature and to practice through the understanding of businesses partnering for local sustainability, and its relationships to global sustainability. Firstly, the connections of business partners to local and global sustainability are better understood. Of note is the contribution made to the literature on sustainability-related drivers and outcomes expanding and refining RBV literature. Secondly, a positive connection has been established between businesses and the SDGs, proposing a virtuous model of relationship that summarizes the findings from this research. And thirdly, large cross-sector social partnerships are better understood. Practical implications: Small- and medium-sized enterprises and large corporations with local offices can further both local and global sustainable development by engaging in local cross-sector sustainability partnerships. Social implications: These research findings are crucial for those leading sustainability initiatives, so they can engage businesses actively in light of the important role they play in society improving their contributions and the chances for sustainability partnerships to achieve their goals. Originality/value: This research contributes to the scale conversation by exploring community sustainability partnerships as a means to understand how business engagement in sustainability at the local level can contribute to the achievement of the SDGs and, ultimately, to global sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1239-1267
Number of pages29
JournalSustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct. 2021


  • Business
  • Collaboration
  • Cross-sector partnerships
  • Drivers
  • Human resources
  • Large partnerships
  • Organizational resources
  • Outcomes
  • RBV
  • SDGs
  • Sustainability resources
  • Sustainable cities


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