Conceptual Developments & Capacity Building in Environmental Networks: towards Public-Private-Academic Partnerships for Sustainable Development

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Abstract

Moving from largely command and control measures in the 70s and 80s, through cleaner production and self-regulatory initiatives in the 90s, the emphasis in the new millennium is more on using networks and partnerships as levers for promoting a greening of industry. Predominantly since the 1992 Rio Summit, corporations have been increasingly pursuing these partnerships with public institutions including governments, international organizations and NGOs that aim to contribute to sustainable development activities. Partnerships have become more common as corporations react to mounting pressure from corporate stakeholders, civil society and government on the responsible nature of their business practices. So-called ‘Green Networks’, ‘Cleaner Production Centres’, ‘Waste Minimisation Clubs’ are among the highlighted alternatives to governmental regulation. While being promoted as an option for governments in the South to make up for lack of sufficient environmental legislation and enforcement, the majority of these examples, however, stem from countries in the North.

In terms of public–private partnerships, one of the foremost Danish initiatives is the Green Network in the former county of Vejle. This initiative, initiated by local governments and businesses in the county, currently involves more than 280 partners from both the private and the public sectors (local companies, public bodies and local governments). The network started in 1994 and has grown in size and importance ever since. Fundamentally, it aims at providing new forms of co-operation between public authorities and private companies. The vehicle for this was initially a voluntary environmental statement by companies, who wished to be members. With the passing of time, however, the demands and pressures on both companies and public bodies have increased as has their innovativeness. Hence, the tools and means employed—outside as well as inside the network—have developed accordingly.

Even though they are successful in a Northern context, uncritical transfer of such concepts to contexts in the South along with substantial, external donor funding have in many cases led to disappointing outcomes. It is necessary to discuss and be aware of key factors in the institutional set-up and the importance of institutional carriers for the potential success of Green Networks in the South.

With reference to at that time ongoing initiatives in Thailand, especially the Cleaner Production for Industrial Efficiency (CPIE) network, and the successful case of Green Network in Denmark, this PhD project sets out to examine and assess these initiatives, discuss them based on an institutional and stakeholder approach (to partnerships) and suggest how the experiences can be understood in their own rights. Inherent in this is the context of development aid.

The point of departure is, however, twofold. From one side, university collaborations and from the other a signification of a corporate awakening towards a broader role of business in society and the trend of corporations embracing partnerships. The latter has led many to question the driving factors that motivate corporations to pursue partnerships. Underlying drivers of corporate organizational behaviour include both legitimacy and stakeholder needs.

However, with a constant flow of recipes or standards being the order of the day for modern companies and organisations, their survival also relate to their ability to cope with this flow, adopting relevant recipes from it and incorporating these into their organisation - and dispensing with them when they become outmoded. This ability is exhibited by what Røvik (1998) calls the “multi-standard organisation”, and he identifies five fundamental capacities that define it:

• High absorption capacity
• The capacity to decouple recipes that do not fit in 
• The ability to translate new recipes in a quick and easy way 
• The ability to detach old or worn down institutions, and
• The ability to preserve and reactivate older forms of institutional recipes

An evaluation of Green Network reveals that the five capacities outlined in Røvik’s theory are all present. Green Network has exhibited a remarkable ability to keep up with trends in the development of the idea of ecological modernisation and sustainable development. They have been able to keep pace with all the important developments during the last almost fifteen years, absorbing what they find important and discarding aspects that do not fit into their vision and programmes. The resulting manuals, tools and ways of propagating knowledge all reflect the “Green Network way of doing things”, i.e. keep it simple, work together and share knowledge.

The conclusion is that through dialogue, reflexivity and the establishment of an enabling environment, public–private partnerships can become useful vehicles in societies’ move towards sustainability.

In relation to the Thai context, the initial successes of implementing cleaner production through the network approach have been substituted by frustrations of yet another aid-driven project that was unsustainable. 

This is the point where “universities as development hubs” enters the stage. Capacity-building in environment and development has been implemented and tested over the last decade through university and university consortia networking. Universities from Africa (Botswana and South Africa), Asia (Malaysia and Thailand), Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua) and Europe (Denmark) have collaborated with graduate students and faculty. Initially some programmes emphasised research and others higher education, but eventually a blend of research and higher education appeared to be more productive. Links to external partners in public and private business have been established and proved successful in terms of mutual benefits.

Activities comprise evolution of new study curricula (including a shift of the learning paradigm to problem-based and project-organised learning), exchange of students and faculty, joint research and joint development conferences. The results have been promising in terms of concrete results within each type of activity and together they provide vital steps in capacity-building in tertiary education to the benefit of development and environment.

Strengthening of tertiary education is assumed to be a prerequisite for economic and democratic development in all countries, be they industrialised, in transition or developing. However, particularly in transition and developing countries there is a need for special support, e.g. through international aid programmes to tertiary education, including research and innovation in an interplay with other research institutions, business and government.

Universities should play a central role in such global efforts to strengthen tertiary education. In co-operation with external partners such as business, consultants, NGOs and civil society at large, universities as key agents and providers in new learning, including developing tools such as project-based and problem-oriented learning (PBL) as well as information and communication technology (ICT); as providers of competent and motivated graduates to fill key positions in society; and as indispensable partners in creating the innovative and auto-learning society necessary to curb poverty and facilitate prosperity is emphasised.

Modes of operation are still deficient, but ‘‘Public-Private Academic Partnerships’ is suggested as a concept to study further and modify to needs. Some of the results and their implications are presented in this thesis and more are documented in the references that are cited. In short, universities, in joint action with business and society at large, are necessary for constructing and maintaining innovative and sustainable societies.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAalborg Universitet
ISBN (Print)87-91646-05-7
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Fingerprint

sustainable development
university
corporation
ability
education
learning
Denmark
Thailand
non-governmental organization
simple work
civil society
stakeholder
graduate
stakeholder approach
form of cooperation
international aid
El Salvador
organizational behavior
development aid
Central America

Keywords

  • Sustainable Development
  • Environmental Management
  • Public-Private Partnerships
  • Institutional Theory
  • Stakeholder
  • Networks

Cite this

@phdthesis{dbcf8230dbeb11dda016000ea68e967b,
title = "Conceptual Developments & Capacity Building in Environmental Networks: towards Public-Private-Academic Partnerships for Sustainable Development",
abstract = "Moving from largely command and control measures in the 70s and 80s, through cleaner production and self-regulatory initiatives in the 90s, the emphasis in the new millennium is more on using networks and partnerships as levers for promoting a greening of industry. Predominantly since the 1992 Rio Summit, corporations have been increasingly pursuing these partnerships with public institutions including governments, international organizations and NGOs that aim to contribute to sustainable development activities. Partnerships have become more common as corporations react to mounting pressure from corporate stakeholders, civil society and government on the responsible nature of their business practices. So-called ‘Green Networks’, ‘Cleaner Production Centres’, ‘Waste Minimisation Clubs’ are among the highlighted alternatives to governmental regulation. While being promoted as an option for governments in the South to make up for lack of sufficient environmental legislation and enforcement, the majority of these examples, however, stem from countries in the North.In terms of public–private partnerships, one of the foremost Danish initiatives is the Green Network in the former county of Vejle. This initiative, initiated by local governments and businesses in the county, currently involves more than 280 partners from both the private and the public sectors (local companies, public bodies and local governments). The network started in 1994 and has grown in size and importance ever since. Fundamentally, it aims at providing new forms of co-operation between public authorities and private companies. The vehicle for this was initially a voluntary environmental statement by companies, who wished to be members. With the passing of time, however, the demands and pressures on both companies and public bodies have increased as has their innovativeness. Hence, the tools and means employed—outside as well as inside the network—have developed accordingly.Even though they are successful in a Northern context, uncritical transfer of such concepts to contexts in the South along with substantial, external donor funding have in many cases led to disappointing outcomes. It is necessary to discuss and be aware of key factors in the institutional set-up and the importance of institutional carriers for the potential success of Green Networks in the South.With reference to at that time ongoing initiatives in Thailand, especially the Cleaner Production for Industrial Efficiency (CPIE) network, and the successful case of Green Network in Denmark, this PhD project sets out to examine and assess these initiatives, discuss them based on an institutional and stakeholder approach (to partnerships) and suggest how the experiences can be understood in their own rights. Inherent in this is the context of development aid.The point of departure is, however, twofold. From one side, university collaborations and from the other a signification of a corporate awakening towards a broader role of business in society and the trend of corporations embracing partnerships. The latter has led many to question the driving factors that motivate corporations to pursue partnerships. Underlying drivers of corporate organizational behaviour include both legitimacy and stakeholder needs.However, with a constant flow of recipes or standards being the order of the day for modern companies and organisations, their survival also relate to their ability to cope with this flow, adopting relevant recipes from it and incorporating these into their organisation - and dispensing with them when they become outmoded. This ability is exhibited by what R{\o}vik (1998) calls the “multi-standard organisation”, and he identifies five fundamental capacities that define it:• High absorption capacity• The capacity to decouple recipes that do not fit in • The ability to translate new recipes in a quick and easy way • The ability to detach old or worn down institutions, and• The ability to preserve and reactivate older forms of institutional recipesAn evaluation of Green Network reveals that the five capacities outlined in R{\o}vik’s theory are all present. Green Network has exhibited a remarkable ability to keep up with trends in the development of the idea of ecological modernisation and sustainable development. They have been able to keep pace with all the important developments during the last almost fifteen years, absorbing what they find important and discarding aspects that do not fit into their vision and programmes. The resulting manuals, tools and ways of propagating knowledge all reflect the “Green Network way of doing things”, i.e. keep it simple, work together and share knowledge.The conclusion is that through dialogue, reflexivity and the establishment of an enabling environment, public–private partnerships can become useful vehicles in societies’ move towards sustainability.In relation to the Thai context, the initial successes of implementing cleaner production through the network approach have been substituted by frustrations of yet another aid-driven project that was unsustainable. This is the point where “universities as development hubs” enters the stage. Capacity-building in environment and development has been implemented and tested over the last decade through university and university consortia networking. Universities from Africa (Botswana and South Africa), Asia (Malaysia and Thailand), Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua) and Europe (Denmark) have collaborated with graduate students and faculty. Initially some programmes emphasised research and others higher education, but eventually a blend of research and higher education appeared to be more productive. Links to external partners in public and private business have been established and proved successful in terms of mutual benefits.Activities comprise evolution of new study curricula (including a shift of the learning paradigm to problem-based and project-organised learning), exchange of students and faculty, joint research and joint development conferences. The results have been promising in terms of concrete results within each type of activity and together they provide vital steps in capacity-building in tertiary education to the benefit of development and environment.Strengthening of tertiary education is assumed to be a prerequisite for economic and democratic development in all countries, be they industrialised, in transition or developing. However, particularly in transition and developing countries there is a need for special support, e.g. through international aid programmes to tertiary education, including research and innovation in an interplay with other research institutions, business and government. Universities should play a central role in such global efforts to strengthen tertiary education. In co-operation with external partners such as business, consultants, NGOs and civil society at large, universities as key agents and providers in new learning, including developing tools such as project-based and problem-oriented learning (PBL) as well as information and communication technology (ICT); as providers of competent and motivated graduates to fill key positions in society; and as indispensable partners in creating the innovative and auto-learning society necessary to curb poverty and facilitate prosperity is emphasised.Modes of operation are still deficient, but ‘‘Public-Private Academic Partnerships’ is suggested as a concept to study further and modify to needs. Some of the results and their implications are presented in this thesis and more are documented in the references that are cited. In short, universities, in joint action with business and society at large, are necessary for constructing and maintaining innovative and sustainable societies.",
keywords = "Sustainable Development, Environmental Management, Public-Private Partnerships, Institutional Theory, Stakeholder, Networks",
author = "Martin Lehmann",
year = "2008",
language = "English",
isbn = "87-91646-05-7",

}

TY - BOOK

T1 - Conceptual Developments & Capacity Building in Environmental Networks

T2 - towards Public-Private-Academic Partnerships for Sustainable Development

AU - Lehmann, Martin

PY - 2008

Y1 - 2008

N2 - Moving from largely command and control measures in the 70s and 80s, through cleaner production and self-regulatory initiatives in the 90s, the emphasis in the new millennium is more on using networks and partnerships as levers for promoting a greening of industry. Predominantly since the 1992 Rio Summit, corporations have been increasingly pursuing these partnerships with public institutions including governments, international organizations and NGOs that aim to contribute to sustainable development activities. Partnerships have become more common as corporations react to mounting pressure from corporate stakeholders, civil society and government on the responsible nature of their business practices. So-called ‘Green Networks’, ‘Cleaner Production Centres’, ‘Waste Minimisation Clubs’ are among the highlighted alternatives to governmental regulation. While being promoted as an option for governments in the South to make up for lack of sufficient environmental legislation and enforcement, the majority of these examples, however, stem from countries in the North.In terms of public–private partnerships, one of the foremost Danish initiatives is the Green Network in the former county of Vejle. This initiative, initiated by local governments and businesses in the county, currently involves more than 280 partners from both the private and the public sectors (local companies, public bodies and local governments). The network started in 1994 and has grown in size and importance ever since. Fundamentally, it aims at providing new forms of co-operation between public authorities and private companies. The vehicle for this was initially a voluntary environmental statement by companies, who wished to be members. With the passing of time, however, the demands and pressures on both companies and public bodies have increased as has their innovativeness. Hence, the tools and means employed—outside as well as inside the network—have developed accordingly.Even though they are successful in a Northern context, uncritical transfer of such concepts to contexts in the South along with substantial, external donor funding have in many cases led to disappointing outcomes. It is necessary to discuss and be aware of key factors in the institutional set-up and the importance of institutional carriers for the potential success of Green Networks in the South.With reference to at that time ongoing initiatives in Thailand, especially the Cleaner Production for Industrial Efficiency (CPIE) network, and the successful case of Green Network in Denmark, this PhD project sets out to examine and assess these initiatives, discuss them based on an institutional and stakeholder approach (to partnerships) and suggest how the experiences can be understood in their own rights. Inherent in this is the context of development aid.The point of departure is, however, twofold. From one side, university collaborations and from the other a signification of a corporate awakening towards a broader role of business in society and the trend of corporations embracing partnerships. The latter has led many to question the driving factors that motivate corporations to pursue partnerships. Underlying drivers of corporate organizational behaviour include both legitimacy and stakeholder needs.However, with a constant flow of recipes or standards being the order of the day for modern companies and organisations, their survival also relate to their ability to cope with this flow, adopting relevant recipes from it and incorporating these into their organisation - and dispensing with them when they become outmoded. This ability is exhibited by what Røvik (1998) calls the “multi-standard organisation”, and he identifies five fundamental capacities that define it:• High absorption capacity• The capacity to decouple recipes that do not fit in • The ability to translate new recipes in a quick and easy way • The ability to detach old or worn down institutions, and• The ability to preserve and reactivate older forms of institutional recipesAn evaluation of Green Network reveals that the five capacities outlined in Røvik’s theory are all present. Green Network has exhibited a remarkable ability to keep up with trends in the development of the idea of ecological modernisation and sustainable development. They have been able to keep pace with all the important developments during the last almost fifteen years, absorbing what they find important and discarding aspects that do not fit into their vision and programmes. The resulting manuals, tools and ways of propagating knowledge all reflect the “Green Network way of doing things”, i.e. keep it simple, work together and share knowledge.The conclusion is that through dialogue, reflexivity and the establishment of an enabling environment, public–private partnerships can become useful vehicles in societies’ move towards sustainability.In relation to the Thai context, the initial successes of implementing cleaner production through the network approach have been substituted by frustrations of yet another aid-driven project that was unsustainable. This is the point where “universities as development hubs” enters the stage. Capacity-building in environment and development has been implemented and tested over the last decade through university and university consortia networking. Universities from Africa (Botswana and South Africa), Asia (Malaysia and Thailand), Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua) and Europe (Denmark) have collaborated with graduate students and faculty. Initially some programmes emphasised research and others higher education, but eventually a blend of research and higher education appeared to be more productive. Links to external partners in public and private business have been established and proved successful in terms of mutual benefits.Activities comprise evolution of new study curricula (including a shift of the learning paradigm to problem-based and project-organised learning), exchange of students and faculty, joint research and joint development conferences. The results have been promising in terms of concrete results within each type of activity and together they provide vital steps in capacity-building in tertiary education to the benefit of development and environment.Strengthening of tertiary education is assumed to be a prerequisite for economic and democratic development in all countries, be they industrialised, in transition or developing. However, particularly in transition and developing countries there is a need for special support, e.g. through international aid programmes to tertiary education, including research and innovation in an interplay with other research institutions, business and government. Universities should play a central role in such global efforts to strengthen tertiary education. In co-operation with external partners such as business, consultants, NGOs and civil society at large, universities as key agents and providers in new learning, including developing tools such as project-based and problem-oriented learning (PBL) as well as information and communication technology (ICT); as providers of competent and motivated graduates to fill key positions in society; and as indispensable partners in creating the innovative and auto-learning society necessary to curb poverty and facilitate prosperity is emphasised.Modes of operation are still deficient, but ‘‘Public-Private Academic Partnerships’ is suggested as a concept to study further and modify to needs. Some of the results and their implications are presented in this thesis and more are documented in the references that are cited. In short, universities, in joint action with business and society at large, are necessary for constructing and maintaining innovative and sustainable societies.

AB - Moving from largely command and control measures in the 70s and 80s, through cleaner production and self-regulatory initiatives in the 90s, the emphasis in the new millennium is more on using networks and partnerships as levers for promoting a greening of industry. Predominantly since the 1992 Rio Summit, corporations have been increasingly pursuing these partnerships with public institutions including governments, international organizations and NGOs that aim to contribute to sustainable development activities. Partnerships have become more common as corporations react to mounting pressure from corporate stakeholders, civil society and government on the responsible nature of their business practices. So-called ‘Green Networks’, ‘Cleaner Production Centres’, ‘Waste Minimisation Clubs’ are among the highlighted alternatives to governmental regulation. While being promoted as an option for governments in the South to make up for lack of sufficient environmental legislation and enforcement, the majority of these examples, however, stem from countries in the North.In terms of public–private partnerships, one of the foremost Danish initiatives is the Green Network in the former county of Vejle. This initiative, initiated by local governments and businesses in the county, currently involves more than 280 partners from both the private and the public sectors (local companies, public bodies and local governments). The network started in 1994 and has grown in size and importance ever since. Fundamentally, it aims at providing new forms of co-operation between public authorities and private companies. The vehicle for this was initially a voluntary environmental statement by companies, who wished to be members. With the passing of time, however, the demands and pressures on both companies and public bodies have increased as has their innovativeness. Hence, the tools and means employed—outside as well as inside the network—have developed accordingly.Even though they are successful in a Northern context, uncritical transfer of such concepts to contexts in the South along with substantial, external donor funding have in many cases led to disappointing outcomes. It is necessary to discuss and be aware of key factors in the institutional set-up and the importance of institutional carriers for the potential success of Green Networks in the South.With reference to at that time ongoing initiatives in Thailand, especially the Cleaner Production for Industrial Efficiency (CPIE) network, and the successful case of Green Network in Denmark, this PhD project sets out to examine and assess these initiatives, discuss them based on an institutional and stakeholder approach (to partnerships) and suggest how the experiences can be understood in their own rights. Inherent in this is the context of development aid.The point of departure is, however, twofold. From one side, university collaborations and from the other a signification of a corporate awakening towards a broader role of business in society and the trend of corporations embracing partnerships. The latter has led many to question the driving factors that motivate corporations to pursue partnerships. Underlying drivers of corporate organizational behaviour include both legitimacy and stakeholder needs.However, with a constant flow of recipes or standards being the order of the day for modern companies and organisations, their survival also relate to their ability to cope with this flow, adopting relevant recipes from it and incorporating these into their organisation - and dispensing with them when they become outmoded. This ability is exhibited by what Røvik (1998) calls the “multi-standard organisation”, and he identifies five fundamental capacities that define it:• High absorption capacity• The capacity to decouple recipes that do not fit in • The ability to translate new recipes in a quick and easy way • The ability to detach old or worn down institutions, and• The ability to preserve and reactivate older forms of institutional recipesAn evaluation of Green Network reveals that the five capacities outlined in Røvik’s theory are all present. Green Network has exhibited a remarkable ability to keep up with trends in the development of the idea of ecological modernisation and sustainable development. They have been able to keep pace with all the important developments during the last almost fifteen years, absorbing what they find important and discarding aspects that do not fit into their vision and programmes. The resulting manuals, tools and ways of propagating knowledge all reflect the “Green Network way of doing things”, i.e. keep it simple, work together and share knowledge.The conclusion is that through dialogue, reflexivity and the establishment of an enabling environment, public–private partnerships can become useful vehicles in societies’ move towards sustainability.In relation to the Thai context, the initial successes of implementing cleaner production through the network approach have been substituted by frustrations of yet another aid-driven project that was unsustainable. This is the point where “universities as development hubs” enters the stage. Capacity-building in environment and development has been implemented and tested over the last decade through university and university consortia networking. Universities from Africa (Botswana and South Africa), Asia (Malaysia and Thailand), Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua) and Europe (Denmark) have collaborated with graduate students and faculty. Initially some programmes emphasised research and others higher education, but eventually a blend of research and higher education appeared to be more productive. Links to external partners in public and private business have been established and proved successful in terms of mutual benefits.Activities comprise evolution of new study curricula (including a shift of the learning paradigm to problem-based and project-organised learning), exchange of students and faculty, joint research and joint development conferences. The results have been promising in terms of concrete results within each type of activity and together they provide vital steps in capacity-building in tertiary education to the benefit of development and environment.Strengthening of tertiary education is assumed to be a prerequisite for economic and democratic development in all countries, be they industrialised, in transition or developing. However, particularly in transition and developing countries there is a need for special support, e.g. through international aid programmes to tertiary education, including research and innovation in an interplay with other research institutions, business and government. Universities should play a central role in such global efforts to strengthen tertiary education. In co-operation with external partners such as business, consultants, NGOs and civil society at large, universities as key agents and providers in new learning, including developing tools such as project-based and problem-oriented learning (PBL) as well as information and communication technology (ICT); as providers of competent and motivated graduates to fill key positions in society; and as indispensable partners in creating the innovative and auto-learning society necessary to curb poverty and facilitate prosperity is emphasised.Modes of operation are still deficient, but ‘‘Public-Private Academic Partnerships’ is suggested as a concept to study further and modify to needs. Some of the results and their implications are presented in this thesis and more are documented in the references that are cited. In short, universities, in joint action with business and society at large, are necessary for constructing and maintaining innovative and sustainable societies.

KW - Sustainable Development

KW - Environmental Management

KW - Public-Private Partnerships

KW - Institutional Theory

KW - Stakeholder

KW - Networks

M3 - Ph.D. thesis

SN - 87-91646-05-7

BT - Conceptual Developments & Capacity Building in Environmental Networks

CY - Aalborg Universitet

ER -