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Identifying opportunities for cross-sectoral collaboration: applying the virtue matrix to sustainability

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Intellectual Contribution by Bruce Paton

Contribution Title

Identifying opportunities for cross-sectoral collaboration: applying the virtue matrix to sustainability

Conference

11th International Sustainable Development Research Conference, Helsinki, Finland

Year

2005

Description

Progress toward sustainability will require innovation and collaboration among business, government and civil society. But progress in recent years has been marked by trial and error, skepticism and confusion, and poor coordination across sectors. A recently proposed framework _ the "virtue matrix" (Martin, HBR 2002) _ offers promising new insights into how to choose an approach appropriate to the situation.

The virtue matrix (as modified slightly by the author) distinguishes between four quadrants of corporate social responsibility. The legal foundation quadrant addresses behavior required by current law. The social foundation quadrant addresses behavior required by society's current norms and expectations. The structural frontier quadrant addresses practices that benefit society, but not the individual corporation. The strategic frontier quadrant addresses practices that may benefit society and the firm.

Each quadrant can provide opportunities for firms, NGOs, governments, and socially responsible investment funds to influence corporate behavior. But the opportunities differ in each quadrant, requiring different tactics by each sector and raising different requirements for success. This paper provides insights from using the virtue matrix by identifying tactics to match the requirements for success in each quadrant.

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