More and more companies consider sustainability from a strategic perspective. CSR is not an option for businesses anymore and firms add environmental and social to their economic objectives they follow goals related to sustainable development. This trend entails the involvement of stakeholders and their interests in organizational activities and essentially constitutes a firms transition toward a multi-stakeholder enterprise. Whereas the importance and the significance of sustainable development are undisputed among business leaders, many firms still struggle to integrate stakeholders in a way that creates sustained value for everyone involved. Companies need to acquire and develop capabilities which facilitate their evolution toward a sustainable enterprise.
This thesis conceptually identifies social alliance engagement (partnerships with nonprofit organizations) as such a capability which induces evolutionary changes on a firms cognitive frames, behavioral aspects, and stakeholder relationships which all together support a company in adopting a multi-stakeholder enterprise model. Social alliance participation as organizational activity thereby primarily acts as a behavioral element of an organization which directly facilitates stakeholder integration. Moreover, social alliance engagement acts as a dynamic capability for sustainability as it induces evolutionary behavioral adaptations through learning and knowledge spillover effects. Furthermore, partnering with nonprofit organizations stimulates transitionary change on the subtler managerial mindsets and cognitive frames. It acts as a script-breaking impulse, as a firm-decentering stimulus, and as an influential factor on organizational identity. Finally, participating in social collaborations entails changes of an organizations relational/social capital by enhancing essential relational aspects and strengthening relational ties. These evolutionary and adaptational impacts on behavior, cognition, and relationships additionally reinforce each other through feedback loops.
Specifying social alliance engagement as a dynamic capability for sustainability contributes to contemporary knowledge, as it is one of the few attempts to identify a capability of that kind. Moreover, transferring the learning and knowledge-spillover effects usually very prominent within alliance research to a broader stakeholder-based focus demonstrates that alliance and stakeholder theory share essential similarities. This work also tries to shape the future academic agenda by giving multiple avenues for further research.