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Motivations for Environmental Alliances: Generating and Internalizing Environmental and Knowledge Value
International Journal of Management Reviews  (IF13.419),  Pub Date : 2020-05-28, DOI: 10.1111/ijmr.12228
Eva Niesten, Albert Jolink

Environmental alliances are a common response to societal sustainability demands. In environmental alliances, firms collaboratively exploit and explore environmental technologies to address market opportunities while simultaneously generating positive environmental impacts. A striking idiosyncrasy is that in addition to economic value, environmental alliances generate two types of external value: environmental value from positive effects on air, water, land and biodiversity, and knowledge value from innovations in environmental technologies. Research on motivations for environmental alliances is dispersed and underdeveloped compared to the well‐established literature on motivations for strategic alliances that emphasize economic value. This study therefore develops a classification of motivations for environmental alliances by combining the literature on strategic alliances and that on environmental and knowledge value. The resulting classification includes motivations for environmental alliances to generate environmental and knowledge value as well as motivations to create economic value by internalizing environmental and knowledge value. A systematic review of 123 articles on environmental inter‐firm alliances identifies specific motivations to populate the new classification. We show that alliance partners are motivated to share sustainable resources, reduce sustainability risk, respond to stakeholders or invest in specific sustainable assets to generate external value. They collaborate to reduce costs or enhance competitive advantage, reputation or legitimacy to internalize external value. The resource‐based view, resource‐dependence view, institutional theory and transaction cost economics have not previously distinguished between motivations to generate and internalize external value. We extend their area of application from strategic alliances to environmental alliances, and thus beyond the exclusive pursuit of economic value.