Predominantly since the 1992 Rio Summit, corporations have been increasingly pursuing partnerships with public institutions including governments, international organizations and NGOs that aim to contribute to sustainable development activities. Partnerships have become more common as corporations react to mounting pressure from corporate stakeholders, civil society and government on the responsible nature of their business practices.
The corporate awakening towards a broader role of business in society and the trend of corporations embracing partnerships has led many to question the driving factors that motivate corporations to pursue partnerships. In this paper, the authors examine the underlying drivers of corporate organizational behaviour from the theoretical perspectives of both legitimacy and stakeholder needs, and discuss the challenges of gaining insight into why corporations embrace public–private partnerships. These theoretical perspectives are used to gain a deeper understanding of the corporate drivers that motivated TOTAL S.A. to approach UNESCO for cooperation on community development programmes in Myanmar. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.