Special Issue "Collaboration for Sustainability"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 July 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Edward Hackett
Website
Guest Editor
1. Brandeis University, Office of the Provost, MS 134, Waltham, MA, 02453, United States
2. Arizona State University, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Tempe, AZ, 85282, United States
Interests: collaboration, peer review, environmental justice

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Collaborations that extends across academic disciplines and into professions and the organized general public are widely recognized as essential to produce the knowledge and innovation required to address sustainability challenges. However, the best way to organize and conduct such collaborations is not well understood, particularly as differences exist in epistemic cultures, professional practices, political interests, social backgrounds, sustainability challenges, and a lot of other work against effective collaboration. For this Special Issue, we invite papers that analyze the organization and dynamics of sustainability collaborations and that propose new patterns of collaboration to achieve sustainability goals. We welcome empirical work of every variety, including case studies, comparative case studies (that involve different countries, disciplines, or sustainability challenges), and surveys. We also invite conceptual papers that reveal new aspects or dynamics of collaboration, or that propose innovative ways to bring scientists, engineers, members of other professions, and representatives of the public into productive collaboration. We encourage papers of every sort to address cultural differences, power dynamics, social justice, and equity.

Prof. Edward Hackett
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • collaboration
  • transdisciplinarity
  • interdisciplinarity
  • comparative analysis
  • public engagement
  • justice
  • equity

Published Papers (15 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Art-Science Collaborative Competencies: A Mixed-Methods Pilot Study for Improving Problem Solving for Sustainability Challenges
Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8634; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208634 - 18 Oct 2020
Abstract
The complexity and interconnectedness of sustainability issues has led to the joining of disciplines. This effort has been primarily within the sciences with minimal attention given to the relationship between science and art. The exclusion of art is problematic since sustainability challenges are [...] Read more.
The complexity and interconnectedness of sustainability issues has led to the joining of disciplines. This effort has been primarily within the sciences with minimal attention given to the relationship between science and art. The exclusion of art is problematic since sustainability challenges are not only scientific and technical; they are also cultural, so the arts, as shapers of culture, are critical components that warrant representation. Hence, it stands to reason that understanding art-science integration will benefit sustainability’s focus on use-inspired basic research. In this paper, we focus on artist-scientist team dynamics and the impact of those team dynamics on the quality of their outputs, in service of gleaning insight into how interdisciplinary teams can better work together to address sustainability challenges. In other words, we ask the question “How do art-science teams reason together, validate ideas, and produce robust outcomes when facing a task related to complex socio-ecological systems, which sit at the crux of sustainability challenges?” To address this question, we conducted a small-group pilot study of artist-scientist teams tasked with developing interpretive signage for the Tres Rios wetland site. We collected survey and ethnographic data to account for intra- and interpersonal interactions in teams. Specifically, this study focuses on variables we call barriers or carriers, which aid or hinder the collaborative interactions of deeply diverse teams. We found that successful art-science collaborations appear to result in improved communication skills, better problem articulation, more creative problem solving, and the questioning of personal and disciplinary mental models. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Collaboration for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
The Role of Intermediaries in Supporting Collaboration for Sustainability: A Model of Commissioning Intervention in the Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration for Sustainable Territorial Development
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 6769; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12176769 - 20 Aug 2020
Abstract
The intervention of intermediaries in supporting collaboration for sustainability is considered an effective way to address the challenges faced by all parties involved in this type of commitment. Our paper includes several less frequently approached perspectives in this field of research and refers [...] Read more.
The intervention of intermediaries in supporting collaboration for sustainability is considered an effective way to address the challenges faced by all parties involved in this type of commitment. Our paper includes several less frequently approached perspectives in this field of research and refers to the intervention of commissioning in supporting collaborative relationships with multiple stakeholders for sustainable territorial development. This paper proposes a model of structural and systemic development of commissioning at the national level, by specific geographical regions and development domains, and analyzes how commissioning structures intermediate the connection between multiple stakeholders, public authorities, and other relevant actors from different sectors of society, which mobilize resources to solve sustainability issues. The results show that the intervention of commissioning adds value to sustainability collaboration by providing stakeholders with an accessible and updated database specialized in development domains, where demands and offers for development resources can be managed safely, and the identification of the appropriate offer is carried out operatively through fast and secure computer systems able to create efficient and prompt connections. We believe that the model presented in the paper can be extended internationally to support global collaboration for sustainability, and we suggest further research in this direction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Collaboration for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Scripting, Situating, and Supervising: The Role of Artefacts in Collaborative Practices
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6407; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166407 - 09 Aug 2020
Abstract
While calls for cross-sectoral collaboration have become a recurrent motif in sustainability-oriented policymaking and research, the practical realization of such processes presents significant challenges. The hope for “collaborative advantage” often gets traded for the experience of “collaborative impasse”, namely those moments in which [...] Read more.
While calls for cross-sectoral collaboration have become a recurrent motif in sustainability-oriented policymaking and research, the practical realization of such processes presents significant challenges. The hope for “collaborative advantage” often gets traded for the experience of “collaborative impasse”, namely those moments in which collaboration gets stuck. To better understand the reasons underlying such impasses, the study focuses on the impact of facilitation artefacts—objects designed and used in collaborative practices. The study proposes an analytical heuristic of collaborative practices to investigate the data collected in an explorative study, tracing artefacts across three different communicative modes of deliberation. Detailed analysis of the case, grounded in audio–visual material, semi-structured interviews, photo documentation, and participatory observation, shows that such artefacts substantially influence the structure of the emerging interaction order in a given setting, and that unscripted and unsituated artefacts might contribute to reinforcing those communicative patterns that collaboration aims to contrast. The study identifies three relevant practices in facilitation work, in order to steer emerging interaction orders away from exclusionary dynamics: scripting, situating, and supervising. Although emerging from the micro-analysis of artefacts, these practices might apply to other spheres of collaboration and serve as orientation for successful collaborative processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Collaboration for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Implementing Community Sustainability Plans through Partnership: Examining the Relationship between Partnership Structural Features and Climate Change Mitigation Outcomes
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 6172; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156172 - 31 Jul 2020
Abstract
Addressing society’s most complex challenges, such as climate change, requires bringing together stakeholders from the business, government, and nonprofit sectors. At the municipal level, multi-stakeholder partnerships are often formed to implement community sustainability plans. However, these partnerships can create new challenges, as it [...] Read more.
Addressing society’s most complex challenges, such as climate change, requires bringing together stakeholders from the business, government, and nonprofit sectors. At the municipal level, multi-stakeholder partnerships are often formed to implement community sustainability plans. However, these partnerships can create new challenges, as it is cumbersome to coordinate action among a group that is made up of such diverse stakeholders. Past research suggests that it is important for these partnerships to have the appropriate structures in place to mitigate some of the coordination challenges to which they are prone. Yet, very few studies have examined the influence that different structural features have on plan outcomes. This article seeks to address this important research gap by using quantitative methods to examine five different features that can compose partnership structures—oversight, monitoring and evaluation, partner engagement, communication, and community wide-actions and their impact on climate change mitigation outcomes. Based on data collected through a global survey and publicly available greenhouse gases emission data from 72 different partnerships that implement community sustainability plans (CSPs), this study finds that structural features related to oversight and community-wide actions are positively associated with climate change mitigation outcomes. These results indicate that certain features of partnership structures may be more important for achieving desirable climate change mitigation outcomes, and thus contribute to research on collaborative governance structures and climate action. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Collaboration for Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle
Research Collaboration Patterns in Sustainable Mining—A Co-Authorship Analysis of Publications
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4756; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114756 - 10 Jun 2020
Abstract
This article quantitatively examines the patterns of collaborative research in the field of sustainable development of the mining sector. The study is based on bibliographic data of 4420 Scopus index research articles published in the period 1983–2018. Both trend and network analyses were [...] Read more.
This article quantitatively examines the patterns of collaborative research in the field of sustainable development of the mining sector. The study is based on bibliographic data of 4420 Scopus index research articles published in the period 1983–2018. Both trend and network analyses were employed in this investigation. The results show a rise in the number of joint articles and in the average number of the authors per joint article. Moreover, no increase in the relative numbers of interinstitutional, international, and cross-sector articles was observed. The collaborative efforts, in terms of the co-authorships, were taken mostly among authors affiliated with the one sector—namely, science and research institutions. This indicates that funding agencies should foster more intensively the cross-sector research collaborations for sustainable mining. However, the most collaborative countries formed cross-continental clusters, thus indicating the global character of research collaboration for sustainable mining. This, in turn, can support solving mining issues with long-term implications, especially the impact of the mining industry on the environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Collaboration for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Making Smallholder Value Chain Partnerships Inclusive: Exploring Digital Farm Monitoring through Farmer Friendly Smartphone Platforms
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4580; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114580 - 04 Jun 2020
Abstract
Value chain partnerships face difficulties achieving inclusive relations, often leading to unsustainable collaboration. Improving information flow between actors has been argued to contribute positively to a sense of inclusion in such partnership arrangements. Smallholders however usually lack the capability to use advanced communication [...] Read more.
Value chain partnerships face difficulties achieving inclusive relations, often leading to unsustainable collaboration. Improving information flow between actors has been argued to contribute positively to a sense of inclusion in such partnership arrangements. Smallholders however usually lack the capability to use advanced communication technologies such as smartphones which offer a means for elaborate forms of information exchange. This study explores to what extent co-designing smartphone platforms with smallholders for farm monitoring contributes to smallholder ability to communicate, and how this influences smallholder sense of inclusion. The study uses an Action Design Research approach in engaging smallholders in Ghana, through multi-stakeholder and focus group discussions, in a reflexive co-design process. The research finds that co-designing a platform interface was significant in improving farmer ability to comprehend and use smartphone based platforms for communicating farm conditions and their needs with value chain partners. Farmers were however skeptical of making demands based on the platform due to their lack of power and mistrust of other actors. This highlights a need for adjusting the social and political dimensions of partnership interactions, in tandem with the advancement of digital tools, in order to effectively facilitate a sense of inclusiveness in partnerships. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Collaboration for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
A Collaborative Transformation beyond Coal and Cars? Co-Creation and Corporatism in the German Energy and Mobility Transitions
Sustainability 2020, 12(8), 3278; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12083278 - 17 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
In this article, we critically discuss the role of collaboration in Germany’s path towards a post-carbon economy. We consider civic movements and novel forms of collaboration as a potentially transformative challenger to the predominant approach of corporatist collaboration in the mobility and energy [...] Read more.
In this article, we critically discuss the role of collaboration in Germany’s path towards a post-carbon economy. We consider civic movements and novel forms of collaboration as a potentially transformative challenger to the predominant approach of corporatist collaboration in the mobility and energy sectors. However, while trade unions and employer organizations provide a permanent and active arena for policy-oriented collaboration, civil society groups cannot rely on an equivalently institutionalized corridor to secure policy impact and public resonance. In that sense, conventional forms of collaboration tend to hinder the transformation towards a post-carbon economy. Collaboration in the German corporatist setting is thus, from a sustainability perspective, simultaneously a problem and a solution. We argue for more institutionalized corridors between civil society and state institutions. Co-creation, as we would like to call this methodical approach to collaborating, can be anchored within the environmental and industrial policy arenas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Collaboration for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Adapting Collaborative Approaches for Service Provision to Low-Income Countries: Expert Panel Results
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2612; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072612 - 25 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The international development sector is increasingly implementing collaborative approaches that facilitate a range of sectoral-level stakeholders to jointly address complex problems facing sustainable public service delivery, for which guidance does not explicitly exist. The literature on collaborative approaches has been built on experiences [...] Read more.
The international development sector is increasingly implementing collaborative approaches that facilitate a range of sectoral-level stakeholders to jointly address complex problems facing sustainable public service delivery, for which guidance does not explicitly exist. The literature on collaborative approaches has been built on experiences in high-income countries with vastly different governance capabilities, limiting their global relevance. A Delphi expert panel addressed this need by evaluating 58 factors hypothesized in the literature to contribute to the success of collaborative approaches. The panel rated factors according to their importance in low-income country contexts, on a scale from Not Important to Essential. Experts agreed on the importance of 49 factors, eight of which were essential for success. Rich qualitative data from open-ended responses revealed factors that may be unique to low-income country contexts and to service delivery applications, including how government capacity, politics, donor influence, and culture can influence decisions on structuring leadership and facilitation roles, appropriately engaging the government, and building legitimacy. Key considerations for future practice and research are summarized in a table in the appendix. This study contributes to both literature and practice by identifying the relative importance of factors to consider when designing collaborative approaches in low-income countries with limited governance capabilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Collaboration for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Structured Collaboration Across a Transformative Knowledge Network—Learning Across Disciplines, Cultures and Contexts?
Sustainability 2020, 12(6), 2499; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12062499 - 24 Mar 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require transformative changes at micro, meso and macro levels and across diverse geographies. Collaborative, transdisciplinary research has a role to play in documenting, understanding and contributing to such transformations. Previous work has investigated the role of [...] Read more.
Realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require transformative changes at micro, meso and macro levels and across diverse geographies. Collaborative, transdisciplinary research has a role to play in documenting, understanding and contributing to such transformations. Previous work has investigated the role of this research in Europe and North America, however the dynamics of transdisciplinary research on ‘transformations to sustainability’ in other parts of the world are less well-understood. This paper reports on an international project that involved transdisciplinary research in six different hubs across the globe and was strategically designed to enable mutual learning and exchange. It draws on surveys, reports and research outputs to analyse the processes of transdisciplinary collaboration for sustainability that took place between 2015–2019. The paper illustrates how the project was structured in order to enable learning across disciplines, cultures and contexts and describes how it also provided for the negotiation of epistemological frameworks and different normative commitments between members across the network. To this end, it discusses lessons regarding the use of theoretical and methodological anchors, multi-loop learning and evaluating emergent change (including the difficulties encountered). It offers insights for the design and implementation of future international transdisciplinary collaborations that address locally-specific sustainability challenges within the universal framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Collaboration for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Analysing Organisational Collaboration Practices for Sustainability
Sustainability 2020, 12(6), 2466; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12062466 - 20 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The complex sustainability challenges that society faces require organisations to engage in collaborative partnerships. Stakeholders affect, and are affected by an organisation’s sustainability activities, making it an important element when deciding with whom to collaborate. A large number of studies have focussed on [...] Read more.
The complex sustainability challenges that society faces require organisations to engage in collaborative partnerships. Stakeholders affect, and are affected by an organisation’s sustainability activities, making it an important element when deciding with whom to collaborate. A large number of studies have focussed on collaboration for sustainability, especially on vertical and dyadic partnerships and collaborative networks, while there is limited research on overarching collaboration activities from the perspective of individual organisations (for example, the Kyosei approach), and even less that includes a stakeholder perspective. The objective of this paper is to analyse with whom individual organisations collaborate and how stakeholders affecting and being affected by sustainability efforts are considered when choosing collaboration partners. A survey was sent to a database of 5216 organisations, from which 271 responses were received. The responses were analysed using non-parametric tests. The results show that organisations are engaged in collaboration activities for sustainability, collaborating mostly with two to three external stakeholders. However, the focus on collaboration for sustainability does not extend to a point that it would lead to a change of organisational practice nor do organisations necessarily consider how stakeholders affect and are affected by their efforts when choosing their collaboration partners. An update to the Kyosei process is proposed, in order to provide guidance on how to strengthen and extend collaborative partnerships for sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Collaboration for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Deltas in Crisis: From Systems to Sophisticated Conjunctions
Sustainability 2020, 12(4), 1322; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12041322 - 12 Feb 2020
Abstract
In recent years, threatened deltas have emerged as a significant matter of concern in numerous fields. While Earth System science and social-ecological systems focus on topics like global water circulation and sediment transport, social scientists tend to consider the problems facing particular deltas [...] Read more.
In recent years, threatened deltas have emerged as a significant matter of concern in numerous fields. While Earth System science and social-ecological systems focus on topics like global water circulation and sediment transport, social scientists tend to consider the problems facing particular deltas in the context of modernization or (post)-colonial development. There is nevertheless broad agreement that the delta crisis raises fundamental questions about modern approaches to infrastructure planning. Thus, environmental and sustainability scientists have come to recognize “the social” as integral to the delta crisis. This understanding of “the social,” however, takes two quite different forms. As an object of social-ecological systems research, the social is modeled alongside ecological systems. However, as a context for scientific interventions in environmental policy it appears as an obstacle to achieving sustainable delta policies. Based on a careful examination of Earth System science and associated discourses, we show that this instability of “the social”, combined with the ambition to integrate ‘it’ in an encompassing system poses serious problems for interdisciplinary delta research and for more imaginative and inclusive collaborative efforts to tackle the delta crisis—including, but going considerably beyond, policy and governance. Rather than integrative systems, we argue that the situation requires the creation of sophisticated conjunctions of epistemologies, methods, and practices. Such conjunctions, we suggest, pave the way for a cosmo-ecological approach, where social, environmental and sustainability sciences work together with designers, urban planners, policy-makers, and affected or concerned citizens on solving multi-scalar delta problems by working across their differences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Collaboration for Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle
Participation and Goal Achievement of Multiparty Collaborative Systems Dealing with Complex Problems: A Natural Experiment
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 987; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12030987 - 29 Jan 2020
Cited by 5
Abstract
Multiparty collaborative systems often deal with wicked sustainability challenges. Previous research has emphasized the important role of stakeholder representation and participation in comprehensive sustainability decisions. We report the results of an empirical test of the effect of stakeholder participation on systemic goal achievement [...] Read more.
Multiparty collaborative systems often deal with wicked sustainability challenges. Previous research has emphasized the important role of stakeholder representation and participation in comprehensive sustainability decisions. We report the results of an empirical test of the effect of stakeholder participation on systemic goal achievement and on multiparty dynamics in a natural experiment, using the results obtained through two simulations in which 44 professionals participated. In one of the simulations a ‘party exclusion dynamic’ evolved. As the two simulations had a similar baseline, the same number of participants distributed in a similar manner among seven stakeholder parties in each simulation, we could test the effect of stakeholder participation on goal achievement and systemic dynamics, using the other simulation as a comparison. Our results show that stakeholder exclusion prevents systemic goal achievement, disrupts collaboration and induces systemic powerlessness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Collaboration for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Transformational Collaboration for the SDGs: The Alianza Shire’s Work to Provide Energy Access in Refugee Camps and Host Communities
Sustainability 2020, 12(2), 539; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020539 - 10 Jan 2020
Cited by 9
Abstract
The potential for achieving transformation through partnerships is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, information on experiences that explore the processes that might generate systemic change is generally lacking. This article uses the Collaborative Value Creation (CVC) framework to analyze [...] Read more.
The potential for achieving transformation through partnerships is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, information on experiences that explore the processes that might generate systemic change is generally lacking. This article uses the Collaborative Value Creation (CVC) framework to analyze the transformational prospects of the Alianza Shire, the first multi-stakeholder partnership for humanitarian action in Spain. The partnership, which aims to develop innovative energy access solutions in refugee camps situated in the Shire region of northern Ethiopia is assessed from its creation in 2014 to the present with regard to four key partnership features: organizational engagement, resources and activities, partnership dynamics and impact. Our findings suggest that while the CVC framework is a useful tool for analyzing the evolution of a partnership to a transformative phase, additional information is required on the important role played by a partnership facilitator in assisting this process. This inquiry aims to build upon the CVC analysis by identifying and addressing some of the barriers faced by the Alianza Shire and other partnerships in attaining transformational outcomes and proposing two key enablers that can assist progression towards this: a facilitating organization that ensures the creation of collaborative shared value and an aspirational strategy for achieving significant systemic change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Collaboration for Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Collaborating for Sustainable Water and Energy Management: Assessment and Categorisation of Indigenous Involvement in Remote Australian Communities
Sustainability 2019, 11(2), 427; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11020427 - 15 Jan 2019
Cited by 8
Abstract
Indigenous peoples living in remote areas are often reliant on Governments for essential services and local economic development opportunities. Collaboration and partnership in resource planning and management is espoused as an approach that can provide multiple benefits for all stakeholders including more robust [...] Read more.
Indigenous peoples living in remote areas are often reliant on Governments for essential services and local economic development opportunities. Collaboration and partnership in resource planning and management is espoused as an approach that can provide multiple benefits for all stakeholders including more robust and long-lasting decisions, relationship-building and trust between government and community members as well as capacity building and empowerment of citizens. In Australia however, little evidence from the remote Indigenous community context is available to inform successful collaborations. This paper presents novel research using thematic analysis of practitioner interviews and document review to analyse the current situation of service-provider- remote community engagement and collaboration for sustainable water and energy management. An adapted typology of Indigenous engagement is applied as an analytical framework, categorising water and energy management initiatives according to four key types, each with varying levels of collaboration and implications for sustainable water and energy. Application of the typology shows that technocratic approaches to community engagement continue to dominate this space as collaborative processes are constrained by a range of institutional, governance, technical and cultural factors. The findings have implications for research, policy and practice, and point to a need for a systemic approach to address barriers and facilitate genuine collaboration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Collaboration for Sustainability)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Sustainability and Collaboration: Crossdisciplinary and Cross-Sector Horizons
Sustainability 2020, 12(4), 1515; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12041515 - 18 Feb 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
The title of this article signals increasing collaboration across boundaries aimed at understanding and solving complex scientific and societal problems. The article is a reflective analysis of five intersecting keywords in discussions of sustainability and boundary crossing. This genre of discourse studies interprets [...] Read more.
The title of this article signals increasing collaboration across boundaries aimed at understanding and solving complex scientific and societal problems. The article is a reflective analysis of five intersecting keywords in discussions of sustainability and boundary crossing. This genre of discourse studies interprets language use, drawing in this case on a representative sample of authoritative definitions, case studies, and state-of-the-art accounts. The Introduction situates the discussion around the increasing number and size of teams as well as research across both academic disciplines and other sectors, followed by the five keywords that structure the overall argument. Section 2 examines the first of the five keywords, defining interdisciplinarity by marking its alignment with integration, confluence, interdependence, interaction, and balance. Section 3 considers the second keyword—transdisciplinarity—by tracing evolution of a problem-focused connotation, links to sustainability, inclusion of stakeholders, the imperative of critique, and transdisciplinary action research. Section 4 brings together insights on inter- and trans-disciplinarity in a composite “crossdisciplinary” alignment with collaboration, factoring in the nature of teamwork, public engagement, and translation. Section 5 then turns to learning, noting the difference between education and training then emphasizing transformative capacity, double- and triple-loop learning, reflexivity, and a transdisciplinary orientation. Section 6 takes up the final keyword—knowledge—by calling attention to inclusion, indigenous and local perspectives, nomothetic versus idiographic perspectives, the question of fit, and the nature of crossdisciplinary knowledge. The article concludes by identifying future research needs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Collaboration for Sustainability)
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