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The Collaboration Economy: How to Meet Business, Social, and Environmental Needs and Gain Competitive Advantage

ISBN: 978-1-118-53834-0
256 pages
April 2013, Jossey-Bass
The Collaboration Economy: How to Meet Business, Social, and Environmental Needs and Gain Competitive Advantage (111853834X) cover image
How six industries are collaborating with competitors, society, and the public sector for competitive advantage

No longer can we consume the equivalent of 1.3 Earths resources and expect to remain prosperous in perpetuity. We need a new economic paradigm, one that yields growth in a way that strengthens the global systems we rely on daily for survival, such as the global water, food, and energy systems. The Collaboration Economy—a model where the private, public, and civil sectors collaborate for prosperity that can last in perpetuity—is emerging. But what does this economic model look like? How does it work? How can companies survive and thrive in the Collaboration Economy?

The Collaboration Economy provides easy to use frameworks and tools to enable leaders of industry, of government, and of society to lead the effort to align growth with sustainable development.

  • Offers a plan for how the private, public, and civil sectors can successfully collaborate to steward resources, fortify global water, food, and energy systems, and spark a new era of prosperity at the same time
  • Contains case study profiles of the leaders of the Collaboration Economy, including Unilever, GE, Coca-Cola, Nestle Waters North America, Grieg Green, and the European Parliament
  • Written by Eric Lowitt, a globally recognized and sought after consultant, thought leader, and speaker in the fields of competitive strategy, growth, and sustainability, who has been named one of the Global Top 100 Thought Leaders on Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America
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Preface vii

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

Part One: Welcome to the Collaboration Economy 13

1. The Collaboration Economy: Prosperity and Social Dimensions Aligned 15

Part Two: Bringing the Collaboration Economy to Life and Scale 43

2. Renewing the Global Energy Sector 45
Eric Lowitt

3. Turning Packaging Materials into Capital 67
Kim Jeffery, Michael Washburn, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Chris Bartle, and Eric Lowitt

4. Renewing the Global Food System 87
Jan Kees Vis, Hal Hamilton, and Eric Lowitt

5. Responsibility as Profitability: Toward Responsible Shipbreaking 107
Petter Heier and Eric Lowitt

6. Renewing Consumerism 125
Judith Merkies MEP, Roope Mokka, and Eric Lowitt

7. Connecting the Water Drops 143
Bea Perez and Eric Lowitt

Part Three: Putting It All Together to Move Forward 169

8. Becoming a Collaborative Leader 171

9. Winning in the Collaboration Economy 187

10. Where Do We Go from Here? 213

Endnotes 223

About the Author 233

Index 234

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Eric Lowitt is a premier strategy and sustainability advisor to CEOs worldwide. He is the author of The Future of Value from Jossey-Bass and writes a regular column for both The Guardian and HBR.org. Eric is the founder of Nexus Global Advisors, a leading strategy, collaboration, and sustainability advisory firm. To learn more about how Nexus Global Advisors can help you, visit www.nexusglobaladvisors.com.

To learn more about Eric, visit www.ericlowitt.com.

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May 15, 2013
Sustainability Guru Eric Lowitt Says “Green is a Fad Diet”

Sustainability expert and author Eric Lowitt addressed corporate leaders and elected officials preparing their flood of greenwashing press releases for Earth Day:

“For so many companies, Earth Day has become an opportunity for press releases, cause marketing efforts, and special-edition, minimally reduced product packages. And that is all fine,” Lowitt wrote. “But fine doesn’t do it if we’re truly invested in preserving our planet while simultaneously kick-starting economic growth and inclusive prosperity.”

Lowitt also implored leaders to recognize that “the terms ‘green’ and ‘sustainability’ are not interchangeable,” and asserted that, “sustainability can happen, but we need to recognize the difference between quick-fixes and lasting, habitual changes that promote sustainability over the vagaries of green.”

Ultimately, Lowitt hopes that once executives “see that sustainability is not only broader than green, but also the basis for competitive advantage, they will also begin to realize increased profit and economic development opportunities. This realization usually comes with another: ‘We can’t overcome our environmental and social challenges alone.’”

Lowitt’s new book, The Collaboration Economy: How to Meet Business, Social, and Environmental Needs and Gain Competitive Advantage, is available now online, and in stores May 13, 2013. In the book, Lowitt offers a plan on how the private, public, and civil sectors can successfully collaborate to steward resources; fortify global water, food, and energy systems; and spark a new era of prosperity at the same time. As proof points for the model, Lowitt offers several case studies, including Unilever, GE, Coca-Cola, Nestle Waters North America, Grieg Green, and the European Parliament.

Powerful endorsements of Eric Lowitt’s The Collaboration Economy include: 

  •     Deepak Chopra, Author, Super Brain

“Anyone who thinks that we have run out of options to recover our economy, save our environment, or bring about social justice should read this book. “

  •     Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever PLC

“Any business model that aims to deliver positive economic and environmental and social outcomes […] will depend heavily on cooperation, collaboration and partnerships.”

  •     Muhtar Kent, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Coca-Cola Company

“Magical things happen when you bring together the Golden Triangle of business, government, and civil society partnerships that are deeply focused, uncompromisingly actionable and highly accountable.”

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