Partnering for UN SDG #17: a social marketing partnership model to scale up and accelerate change

Sinead Duane, Christine Domegan, Brendan Bunting

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Purpose – The United Nations (UN) 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) places partnerships as a vital
mechanism, which strengthens the implementation of change strategies. The SDG targets are ambitious;
acknowledging the interconnected multifaceted issues that are currently facing society. Similarly, social
marketing thought is transitioning to embrace systemic change strategies, realising no one organisation can
have an impact on the emerging grand challenges. Partnerships are the 5th P in the social marketing mix,
however, partnerships is also a nebulous term which has been criticised for lacking theoretical development.
This study aims to answer the call from both the UN and social marketing community for further research to
guide the development and implementation of impactful transformative partnerships.
Design/methodology/approach – A robust mixed method approach to develop and test a social
marketing partnership model is presented. Trust and relationship commitment are at the forefront of
successful partnership exchanges. Morgan and Hunt’s (1994) trust and relationship commitment model is
extended into the social marketing domain.
Findings – The findings validate Hasting’s (2003) call for social marketers to listen to their commercial
marketing counterparts, positioning trust and commitment as essential to change strategies. As the degree of
complexities in the multifaceted world continues to accelerate, partnerships for change (UN SDG #17) will pay
off, driving more effective and smarter collaborations amongst a diverse range of stakeholders at different
levels in different networks. Partnerships will elevate social marketing to deliver systemic transformation for
complex problems with far reaching collective and sustainable consequences.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Social Marketing
Early online date29 Sep 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Sep 2021


  • Structural equation modelling
  • Social marketing theory


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