Ideal and reality of multi-stakeholder collaboration on sustainability problems: a case study on a large-scale industrial contamination in Phoenix, Arizona

Rider W. Foley, Arnim Wiek, Braden Kay, Richard Rushforth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Multi-stakeholder collaboration among industry, government, the public, and researchers is widely acknowledged as a critical success factor for resolving sustainability problems. Proponents argue that pooling capacities and resources is necessary to cope with such wicked problems. Despite good intentions and attempts to follow best practices, the reality of multi-stakeholder collaboration is often flawed. We demonstrate this mismatch between the ideal and reality with a case study of a multi-stakeholder collaboration centered on a large urban area affected by industrial contamination (superfund site) in Phoenix, Arizona. The study indicates deficits in the collaborative process due to the lack of trust, power asymmetry, and other factors. Efforts have recently been undertaken to enhance the multi-stakeholder collaboration through novel engagement approaches. The study uses insights from stakeholder engagement approaches to demonstrate how the quality of multi-stakeholder collaboration on sustainability problems could be appraised and how common obstacles to such collaboration could be overcome, while reflecting on the role of transdisciplinary research in this process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalSustainability Science
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Sep 20 2016

Keywords

  • Complex problem solving
  • Remediation
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Superfund site
  • Transdisciplinarity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Health(social science)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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