We review the role of multistakeholder partnerships in responding to sustainability challenges. We refer to sustainability as achieving a balance between use and regeneration of resources, achieving quality of life now and in the future, while preserving ecological processes on which life depends (Gray & Stites, 2013). Partnerships are increasingly emerging as vehicles for confronting sustainability challenges across the globe that typically transcend sectors and governmental boundaries and implicate many different stakeholders whose actions impact each other. We draw on a systematic review of the management and public policy literatures (Gray & Stites, 2013) as well as additional research from specific problem domains to address four broad topics: 1) The challenges of sustainability and the affordances of partnerships as a response; 2) Types and purposes of sustainability partnerships; and 3) Obstacles to partnership success; and 4) Outcomes of sustainability partnerships. Overall, we argue that the more that partnerships seek to be transformational, the greater the challenges partners will confront as they try to shape a sustainable future. We conclude with future research questions that will enhance our knowledge of sustainability partnerships.
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