Motivations for engagement in environmental inter-firm alliances in the Swedish fashion and textile industry

University essay from Handelshögskolan i Stockholm/Institutionen för företagande och ledning

Abstract: The fashion and textile industry is publicly seen as one of the most environmentally unsustainable industries in the world. Due to its complex and highly dispersed value chain, a collaborative effort is needed in order to lower the industry's environmental pollution. Thus, many environmental alliances have emerged in the industry, on global and national level. Despite its apparent empirical importance, the area of why firms engage in environmental inter-firm alliances remains under-researched by academia. This thesis sets out a conceptual framework to analyze the motivations behind firms' decisions to join as well as further engage in such an environmental alliance. The framework provides a novel holistic approach that includes three distinct theoretical perspectives relevant for examining the topic: resource-based view, institutional theory and network theory. Using an abductive method, we conducted a qualitative case study in the Swedish fashion and textile industry and discussed our empirical findings through these theoretical lenses. As Sweden is globally known for being at the forefront in sustainability development, the national fashion industry has been active in taking collaborative measures to jointly reduce their environmental impact. In our case study, we examined firms' motivations to join and further invest in the environmental alliance STICA, the Swedish Textile Initiative for Climate Action, that engages competing fashion brands in the Swedish industry. Our findings reveal a variety of motivations, including the aspects of potential resource-attainment, collective legitimacy and network benefits. Further, our study indicates that when comparing the decision to join and the decision to further engage in the environmental alliance, the determining motivations shift from firm- or industry-level to the individual level of the respective member companies' sustainability manager.

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