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4th International Symposium on Cross Sector Social Interactions

“Innovative Collaboration for a complex world: Reaching across institutional divides”

Suffolk University, Boston, May 29-30, 2014


Submission deadline for abstracts (600-1,000 words): February 8, 2014


Cross-sector partnerships have become an essential strategic tool for organizations around the globe. Business organizations, non-profits, governmental agencies, and communities increasingly realize the value of collaboration with organizations from other sectors as a means to access key resources they do not possess, and to pursue objectives they could not achieve on their own (Austin & Seitanidi, 2012; Dahlberg, 2007; Kolk, Dolen, & Vock, 2010; Kolk, Van Tulder, & Kostwinder, 2008; Parker, 2003; Seitanidi & Ryan, 2007; Waddock, 1988). At the same time, the vastly different organizational logics of these sectors make collaboration particularly challenging (Dahan, Doh, Oetzel, & Yaziji, 2010; Rivera-Santos & Rufín, 2011; Selsky & Parker, 2005).

Started in 2007, the symposia on Cross Sector Social Interactions (CSSI) aim to bring together academics and practitioners in the field of CSSI every two years in order to discuss and share insights from both theory and practice. Building on this momentum, the 4th International Symposium on Cross Sector Social Interactions will take stock of advances in CSSI since the previous symposium in 2012, and will bring together scholars and practitioners to develop not only knowledge and concepts, but also tools and methods.

In spite of a rapidly growing literature, many of the dimensions and implications of partnering across sectors still remain to be explored. In particular, we are only beginning to understand the specificities of innovation through cross-sector collaboration. For this Symposium, we would like to bring an innovation perspective to the study of CSSI, and to especially consider CSSI not only as innovative forms of collaboration that transcend institutional boundaries in themselves, but also as sources of specific innovations for complex problems (Le Ber & Branzei, 2010a; Le Ber & Branzei, 2010b; Murphy, Perrot, & Rivera-Santos, 2012). As recent and rapidly evolving forms of organizational architecture, CSSI can be usefully regarded as specific forms of innovation. Such an approach offers the potential to bring the rich scholarship on innovation to bear on the analysis of CSSI; conversely, it can also bring important new insights from CSSI to the scholarship and practice of innovation. For example, the innovation literature has paid a lot of attention to the development of teams composed by individuals of deliberately diverse backgrounds and capabilities (Cohen & Levinthal, 1990; Gruber, MacMillan, & Thompson, 2013), who can not only generate new ideas through the recombination and juxtaposition of previously unconnected concepts, but who can also examine innovative concepts from a variety of lenses, such as the social good perspective of non-profit organizations and the emphasis on scalability of many business firms, identifying blind spots and potential pitfalls. In our contemporary world, where “distance” is diminishing in more than just a physical sense, so that organizations of all kinds are coming into contact with other organizations that follow vastly different logics, cross-sector collaboration can help individuals and organizations make better sense of this growing complexity, as we further elaborate below. Yet the management of such diversity poses tremendous challenges for the innovation process. Likewise, CSSI initiatives bring together persons from very different backgrounds, and thus face significant obstacles regarding communication, development of trust, and other factors required for the success of these initiatives. In what ways do CSSI resemble other forms of innovation? What can the innovation literature tell us about how organizations should approach and structure initiatives that involve CSSI? What is unique about CSSI as innovations that can expand our understanding of innovation processes? How do specific innovations stemming from CSSIs tackle complex problems?

In our view, a fundamental element in searching for answers to these questions is the institutional diversity that is innate to CSSI. We are referring here not only to the institutional logics of different organizations of different sectors—business vs. non-profit vs. public—but also, the types of institutional divides encountered across the space of geography and levels of economic development (Rivera-Santos, Rufín, & Kolk, 2012). These divides are growing more prominent as business organizations from the developed world increasingly interact with low-income communities in developing countries. In these communities, a complex and unstable blend of institutions—local, national, and supranational—frequently coexist side by side. How do the pre-existing innate institutional divides affect CSSI when they produce innovative ventures? What are the elements of innovative processes that are able to resolve institutional conflicts and contradictions? Can conflicting institutional logics be recombined to yield innovative and sustainable organizational forms? These are some of the questions that we invite scholars and practitioners to examine in the 4th CSSI Symposium.


Our intention is to consider a variety of forms of submission to the symposium in order to provide a forum for research at a variety of stages of development, and for researchers at different career stages. We particularly encourage proposals from doctoral and early career researchers. Reflecting this, the symposium welcomes both extended abstracts (600-1,000 words) and poster proposals (600 words - a physical poster will be required if selected, with further details to be provided to the selected abstracts). Abstracts should provide a brief overview of your work and/or present interim research findings. Accepted abstract submissions will be offered the opportunity to present their research (around 15 minutes of presentation time) in workshop sessions at the symposium. Accepted posters will be exhibited at the symposium space providing opportunities for scholars to interact and discuss their latest research with the symposium participants. We welcome academic and practitioner research on the symposium topic.

As in previous years, papers submitted to the Symposium will be eligible for the Routledge Best Paper Award in Social Partnership, comprising a certificate to the recipient, a voucher for £100 books by Taylor & Francis Group, and a one-year subscription to Academy of Management Annals.

The best symposium papers will be candidates for inclusion in a Special Issue of the Journal of Business Ethics or/and in an edited volume.




February 8, 2014

Submission of abstracts (600-1,000 words), as an attachment in MS Word or pdf format to [log in to unmask]

March 31, 2014

Selection of papers and posters

May 29-30, 2014

Symposium in Boston, USA

August 31, 2014

Submission of full papers to be considered for the Thematic Special Issue for the Journal of Business Ethics


Symposium co-chairs and organizers

Carlos Rufín - Associate Professor of International Business, Suffolk University (USA), [log in to unmask]

Miguel Rivera-Santos – Associate Professor of Strategy and International Business, EMLYON Business School (France) and Babson College (USA), [log in to unmask]

Organizing Committee

Rob Van Tulder - Programme Chair 2012

Andrew Crane - Symposium Chair 2014 & Symposium Chair 2016

James Austin - Recipient of 1st LTA Award

May Seitanidi - Symposia Co-ordinator



Austin, J. E. & Seitanidi, M. M. 2012. Collaborative Value Creation: A Review of Partnering Between Nonprofits and Businesses: Part I. Value Creation Spectrum and Collaboration Stages. Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 41(5): 726-758.

Cohen, W. A. & Levinthal, D. A. 1990. Absorptive capacity: a new perspective on learning and innovation. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35(1): 128-152.

Dahan, N. M., Doh, J. P., Oetzel, J., & Yaziji, M. 2010. Corporate-NGO Collaboration: Co-creating New Business Models for Developing Markets. Long Range Planning, 43(2/3): 326-342.

Dahlberg. 2007. Business guide to partnering with NGOs and the United Nations: Dalberg Global Development Advisors.

Gruber, M., MacMillan, I. C., & Thompson, J. D. 2013. Escaping the Prior Knowledge Corridor: What Shapes the Number and Variety of Market Opportunities Identified Before Market Entry of Technology Start-ups? Organization Science, 24(1): 280-300.

Kolk, A., Van Tulder, R., & Kostwinder, E. 2008. Business and partnerships for development. European Management Journal, 26(4): 262-274.

Kolk, A., Dolen, W., & Vock, M. 2010. Trickle Effects of Cross-Sector Social Partnerships. Journal of Business Ethics, 94: 123-137.

Le Ber, M. & Branzei, O. 2010a. Value Frame Fusion in Cross Sector Interactions. Journal of Business Ethics, 94: 163-195.

Le Ber, M. J. & Branzei, O. 2010b. (Re)Forming strategic cross-sector partnerships: Relational processes of social innovation. Business and Society, 49: 140-172.

Murphy, M., Perrot, F., & Rivera-Santos, M. 2012. New perspectives on learning and innovation in cross-sector collaborations. Journal of Business Research, 65(12): 1700–1709.

Parker, A. R. 2003. Prospects for NGO Collaboration with Multinational Enterprises. In J. P. Doh & H. Teegen (Eds.), Globalization and NGOs: Transforming Business, Government, and Society: 81-105. Wesport, CT: Praeger.

Rivera-Santos, M. & Rufín, C. 2011. Odd couples: Understanding the governance of Firm-NGO Alliances. Journal of Business Ethics, 94: 55-70.

Rivera-Santos, M., Rufín, C., & Kolk, A. 2012. Bridging the institutional divide: Partnerships in subsistence markets. Journal of Business Research, 65(12): 1721-1727.

Seitanidi, M. & Ryan, A. 2007. A critical review of forms of corporate community involvement: from philanthropy to partnerships. International Journal of Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Marketing, 12(3): 247-266.

Selsky, J. W. & Parker, B. 2005. Cross-Sector Partnerships to Address Social Issues: Challenges to Theory and Practice. Journal of Management, 31(6): 849-873.

Waddock, S. A. 1988. Building Successful Social Partnerships. Sloan Management Review, 29(4): 17-23.


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