Searching to facilitate creative processes, organisations recognise that the source of new ideas and information lies in the interaction between different functional departments, as well as in the cooperation with external actors. That is why increasingly, organisations from multiple sectors (i.e., government, business and civil society) are collaborating to tackle larger and more complex challenges beyond the organisation and sectorial boundaries. Examples of such challenges include the emergence of new industries and markets, financial crises and political conflicts, responses to socio-cultural change, the provision of health care and education, the prevention of crime and poverty, the shift to renewable energies, etc. Interactions between public, private and non-profit actors can happen in hybrid organisations, contractual partnerships and more informal exchange.
In cross-sector collaborations, the partners bring in heterogeneous resources which promise to be complementary in the design and implementation of innovative solutions to societal and economic problems. This particularly applies to intangible resources such as knowledge. However, before cross-sector collaborations can live up to their potential in exploiting existing and creating new knowledge, the involved actors have to bridge high cognitive distances. The government, business and civil society have their own logics and practices, and these profound differences may inhibit understanding and learning across sectoral boundaries. Moreover, although cross-sector collaborations build on shared overall goals, the partners may also pursue diverging interests and hidden goals.
We welcome theoretical and empirical (both quantitative and qualitative) papers and give no priority to a specific field of operation or kind of collaboration. However, a strong focus on the relational aspects of knowledge, learning and innovation will be appreciated. The management of knowledge, learning and innovation is a severe challenge within societal sectors but even more in cross-sector collaborations. This special issue will address questions related to this challenge.
Suitable topics include, but are not limited, to the following:
- What are the main drivers of, and barriers to, knowledge sharing, learning and innovation in cross-sector/within-sector collaborations?
- How do structural characteristics of the collaboration (e.g. origin and experience of partners, network size, governance of the partnership, life-cycle stage) affect knowledge, learning and innovation?
- How do actors in cross-sector collaborations cope with divergent logics and arrive at shared mental models and joint decisions?
- What practices of knowledge governance and management (e.g. boundary spanners, communities of practice) facilitate learning and innovation in cross sector/within-sector collaborations?
Submission of manuscripts: 30 November, 2017
Notification to authors: 31 April, 2018
Final versions due: 31 May, 2018