Multi-stakeholder initiatives have emerged as collaborative partnerships to deal with wicked problems, particularly in the global food system. This article analyzes the role that academics play in these initiatives at a global level, and the nature of their participation. Based on a qualitative analysis supported by a database of 41 multi-stakeholder initiatives in the global agriculture and food sector and 51 interviews with their participants, this research identifies five key roles that academics play in multi-stakeholder initiatives and in communities of practice around them. In multi-stakeholder initiatives, academics act as knowledge experts, agenda-setting advisors and facilitators. In communities of practice, academics develop new knowledge on multi-stakeholder initiatives by theorizing from their observation and reflection and they build international bridges between students and multi-stakeholder initiatives. The results imply that academics engaging in multi-stakeholder initiatives that deal with global wicked problems can choose multiple paths to align their societal mission of co-creating sustainability with the broader organizational goals of their universities.
- Multi-stakeholder initiatives
- Cross-sector collaboration
- Sustainable development
- Wicked problems