Sustainability benefits and challenges of inter-organizational collaboration in bio-based business: A systematic literature review

Gohar Nuhoff-Isakhanyan, Emiel F.M. Wubben*, S.W.F. Omta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Bio-based businesses are often considered to be sustainable. However, they are also linked to sustainability challenges such as deforestation and soil erosion. Encouraged to exploit innovative solutions and enhance sustainability, organizations engaged in bio-based activities extensively explore collaboration possibilities with external partners. The objective of this paper is to integrate the available knowledge on sustainability of inter-organisational collaborations in bio-based businesses, while considering the three aspects of sustainability: environmental, economic, and social. We collected data from three academic sources-Web of Science, Scopus, and EconLit-and conducted a systematic literature review. The results show the importance of geographical proximity and complementarity in creating sustainability benefits such as reduced emissions, reduced waste, economic synergies, and socio-economic activities. Based on the findings, we have developed a framework that illustrates sustainability benefits and challenges. Interestingly, the studies emphasize sustainability benefits more in emerging than in industrialised economies, especially relating to the social aspects of sustainability. In conclusion, although the scholars have not discussed mitigation of several sustainability challenges in bio-based businesses, such as land use conflicts, they have found evidence of vital sustainability benefits, such as energy availability, lower emissions, improved socio-economic life, and poverty reduction, which are essential in emerging economies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number307
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Bio-based business
  • Inter-organisational collaborations
  • Sustainability

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