Voluntary business-to-government data sharing: exploring actor alignment to create mutual benefits
Sleen, Tom van der
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Over the past decade, the availability of data has significantly increased as a result of the ‘datafication’ of society. Simultaneously, public and private organisations are undergoing increasing pressures to address societal challenges. As a result, data collaboratives recently gained more attention in the literature on public-private data sharing. Data collaboratives are public-private data sharing partnerships that address societal challenges. They are often challenging due to diverging interests of public and private organisations and tend to be one-off in practice. Furthermore, the benefits for government organisations are often clear, whereas the benefits for private organisations are not. Academic literature recognises the need to balance these interests and create win-win situations. However, limited knowledge is available on how this can be realised within a business-to-government (B2G) data sharing context. This research aimed to explore how voluntary B2G data sharing partnerships to address societal challenges can be mutually beneficial and can become more sustainable over a longer period of time. The framework for voluntary B2G data sharing by Rukanova et al. (2020) was used as a starting point of this study. This framework provided a basic view of how the interests of public and private organisations can be aligned to create mutual benefits, but lacked in-depth insights. Therefore, this study proposes an adapted version in which the organisational interests of public and private organisations, alignment mechanisms, and the creation of benefits are further specified. This study was designed as a single case study with embedded subcases. The Dutch national statistical office, CBS, was studied as the main case due to its prior history of collaboration with private organisations. Two voluntary B2G data sharing partnerships between CBS and private organisations were studied as subcases. Data was collected by means of interviews with CBS and its private partners. The empirical findings of this study suggest that voluntary B2G data sharing can be mutually beneficial through the alignment of interests. Here, urgency was identified as a main mechanism to find common ground in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. As there is an increasing urgency regarding sustainability topics, it is not unthinkable that the willingness of private organisations to share data will increase as well. Value renewal is considered to be important to create a more sustainable partnership over a longer period of time. Further research is necessary to gain a better understanding of how interests are aligned and mutual benefit is created in other contexts.