Panel 11. Removing the Rose-tinted Glasses: Exploring the Dark Side of Cross-Sector Partnerships

Attention to cross-sector partnerships (CSPs) continues to grow in management practice and research - with little scrutiny of their potential dark side. Evidence of the potential for CSPs to produce harmful effects is found in disciplines outside of management. For example, urban studies scholars have criticized CSPs for their role in facilitating damaging public austerity measures and global development studies shed light on problems caused by power asymmetries in CSPs. In contrast, systematic analysis on the downsides of CSPs is lacking in management studies. This panel seeks to counterbalance the tendency to look at partnerships through rose-tinted glasses by calling for papers and creating space for discussions on the negative effects of CSPs. Such effects can result from a failed CSP or adverse consequences (direct or indirect) of a so-called successful CSP. Examples include situations where CSPs promote “solutions” that do not fit the local needs, replicate or reinforce extant power structures, maintain an undesirable status quo, or under the guise of ‘doing good’ covertly spread “westernized” ideas and aggrandize the power of dominant global actors. Furthermore, examining CSPs through a critical lens may reveal that marginal benefits are gained at the high cost of dependencies and/or tying up scarce resources, such that they are unavailable to other, potentially more urgent problems.

In this panel, we encourage the exploration of CSPs’ potential dark sdie.

We invite research contributions that:

  • Contextualize and explain how and why negative CSP effects occur (e.g. a matter of CSP initiation, design, institutional embedding, system-level forces, resource dependencies, and/or conflicting interests).
  • Reveal the underlying processes and trade-offs causing and reinforcing negative effects, as well as ways of breaking downward spirals and vicious cycles.
  • Inform the long-term, multi-level negative implications that CSPs can cause or reinforce and thereby hamper positive transformative capacities for necessary in-depth change and greater resilience.

We invite practice contributions on questions like:

  • Which direct or indirect negative effects require further research inquiry?
  • Do differences exist in the perspectives and/or experiences of CSP practitioners, beneficiaries, and academia on the dark side of effects, and if so how and why do they differ?
  • Which stakeholders are typically affected by CSPs’ dark side effects and what are some long-term implications?
  • And, finally, how can we effectively research the dark side of CSPs and how can this be managed in practice?

This dark side panel will help to develop a better understanding of CSP realities and conceptually inform the boundaries of their effectiveness.