Why collaborating with the competition can make business sense

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New forms of corporate collaboration can drive sustainability, and create better products and services

We would like to draw your attention to an article published by the Guardian and written by David Grayson, director of the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility at Cranfield University School of Management. The article sheds light into collaboration with competition and agrees with Bettina’s view that “we need to learn to tame the competitive spirit”, which she has explored in the 4th Innovation Best Practice & Future Challenges Report from 2010 (downloadable hereBelow you can read our favourite insights.

Business in the Community, for example, has got member companies to act on issues such as employability, homelessness and mental health in the workplace.

Companies from different sectors can find synergies: Barclays and GSK, for example,recently announced a partnership to provide financing for medicines in low-income African markets.

In some cases, companies are collaborating with competitors as well as NGOs and public sector bodies, to address specific problems. Refrigerants Naturally, for example, brings together Coca-Cola, Pepsico as well as Red Bull and Unilever in an alliance with Greenpeace and Unep to develop more sustainable refrigeration technologies.

A specialist NGO, The Partnering Initiative, suggests that there are four partnership skills:

  1. understanding other sectors,
  2. technical knowledge of partnering,
  3. people and relationship skills,
  4. and, underpinning it all, a mindset for partnering.

Companies such as Microsoft, BG Group, Shell and Nestlé have integrated partnership training into their executive development programmes.

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