Improving High Street Performance through Collaboration

There is little evidence to link collaboration between stakeholders and retail centre performance, although this premise is central to much of the town centre and place management literature. For example, Sweeting (2002) notes that “local leaders have to play the roles of entrepreneur and facilitator; generating consensus/collaboration”,

Our research found that collaboration came 19th out of 201 factors that influence the vitality and viability of the high street. So it’s really important!
What do we mean by collaboration? Well, something along the lines of ‘co-marketing alliances or lateral relationships between firms at the same level in the value added chain’ (Bucklin & Sengupta, 1993; page 32), through, for example, the creation of Business Improvement Districts (Steel & Symes, 2005) or retail associations (Coca-Stefaniak et al., 2005). In other words, a form of ‘working partnership’ defined by Anderson & Narus, (1990; page 42) as the ‘…mutual recognition and understanding that the success of each form depends in part on the other firm” – a conscious recognition of agglomeration economics and the benefits these brings to traders and consumers (Hotelling 1929; Harris & Shonkwiler 1997; McLafferty & Ghosh 1987).

Collaboration implies stakeholders are willingly participating in activities that benefit the High Street – in a way ‘management’ does not. Perhaps that’s why our experts thought it had more influence on place performance than town centre or place management. Is it time we changed our name?


Anderson, J. C., & Narus, J. A. (1990). A model of distributor firm and manufacturer firm working partnerships. the Journal of Marketing, 42-58.

Bucklin, L. P., & Sengupta, S. (1993). Organizing successful co-marketing alliances. The Journal of Marketing, 32-46.

Coca-Stefaniak, J. A., Parker, C., Barbany, A., Garrell, X., & Segovia, E. (2005). Gran Centre Granollers–“city, culture and commerce”. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 33(9), 685-696.

Harris, T. R., & Shonkwiler, J. S. (1997). Interdependence of retail businesses. Growth and Change, 28(4), 520-533.

Hotelling, H, (1929), Stability in Competition, Economic Journal, 39 (1929), 41-57.

Ghosh, A., & McLafferty, S. L. (1987). Location strategies for retail and service firms. Lexington: Lexington Books.

Steel, M., & Symes, M. (2005). The Privatisation of public space? The American experience of business improvement districts and their relationship to local governance. Local Government Studies, 31(3), 321-334.

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