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Futures Research Quarterly

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Increasing turbulence in the sociopolitical environment is reshaping the environmental management strategies employed by business and other institutions. New expectations of the role of business in society, changing demographics, critical social problems such as spiraling health care costs, educational reform and child care, and environmental degradation are posing serious challenges to business organizations and society as a whole. Private, public, and independent sector institutions have initiated a wide variety of collaborative, multi-organizational approaches to issues management which we describe as issues management alliances (IMAs). Known by a myriad of labels such as public-private partnerships, innovating organizations, community development corporations, and self-regulatory agencies, issues management alliances appear to be an adaptive mode of response to a turbulent sociopolitical environment: specifically, they address complex issues and problems that are not being managed adequately by organizations acting alone. To date, however, our understanding of issues management alliances has been fragmented. The primary purpose of this paper is to foster a more systematic appreciation of this robust phenomenon. First, we provide a definition of issues management alliance and organize the disparate examples of IMAs using Cummings' (1984) model of transorganizational systems. Second, we discuss the necessary conditions for the emergence and maintenance of this mode of response in terms of their effectiveness and differential efficiency. Finally, we conclude with a discussion of the implications of this phenomenon.


This article was originally published in Futures Research Quarterly.