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"Systematic Change"

Misums Jennie Perzon examines the role of cross-sector collaboration in solving social issues and finding solutions for employment. Here she writes a column about her research and thoughts.

Working as a management consultant at Accenture for more than 15 years has given me the opportunity to explore many industries and observe the different commercial challenges in large corporations. In parallel, my engagement in corporate citizenship has led me to seek out opportunities in developing countries and the non-profit sector. There are a number of social issues and large challenges and in the world today – from social inequities to climate change – affecting the lives and wellbeing of billions of people globally. The world is rapidly changing affecting the economic, social and cultural, environmental and political aspects of life for citizens. Globalization has led to a shifted power balance across the world where the business and civil society organizations are becoming more influential.

Corporations and non-profit organizations work within the same environment and in the same markets, often facing similar challenges. Despite many potential benefits of collaboration I find that they often work in silos, and despite wanting to work together many fail to do so.

One of the great social issues in the world today is that of growing unemployment, with an estimated 200 million people unemployed and actively looking for work worldwide. At the same time that unemployment is increasing, there is a growing global ‘skills gap’, i.e. where the demand does not match the supply of skills and employers (often multinationals) cannot find any talent with the right skills for employment.  An example that will be explored in my research is cross sector collaboration in skill building initiatives to create employment in both urban and rural context in developed and developing markets.

Based on projects with and inquiries from large multinational corporations in the private sector and equally so from global nonprofits, I have seen an increasing demand for insight and understanding about cross-sector collaboration and long term shared value initiatives.

There is a growing awareness from both practice and academia that successfully solving social issues in this new global landscape will require active participation from and collaboration between all sectors.  Despite this, there exists a disconnect between sectors which drives me to further examine both the challenges and motivations to collaborate faced by both. I hope that my research will provide insights on actual efficient and scalable models for cross-sector collaboration and value creation.