Centre for Economic Transformation| CET

Collaborative Networks for Sustainability (CONESU)

The role of network orchestrators in the Dutch Apparel industry


Collaborative networks are emerging rapidly as the preferred way of organizing to address urgent societal challenges such as persistent poverty, climate change and rapid loss of biodiversity. Yet, the long term survival of such collaborative networks is challenging and the value created in them can be lost if they dissolve. Network orchestrators are key players in ensuring that networks create value for the participating organizations and that these organizations can capture this value in their individual organizations. The aim of this research project is to develop tools, practices and frameworks that help guide network orchestrators in designing and governing collaborative networks for value creation and capture in the apparel industry.

Network orchestrator is a new professional role performed by individuals and organizations. By studying both the network orchestrators and participants of four collaborative networks in the Dutch apparel/textile industry in real time the CONESU project aims to support network orchestrators in performing their role effectively and help to professionalize network orchestration more broadly.


The consortium seeks to enhance the professional capacity and practices of network orchestrators by developing and testing tools for group work, engagement practices and business modelling to achieve the ambitious and transitional goals that collaborative networks set. Currently, they often use traditional tools from project management and strategic planning like agenda setting and action plans. While valuable, these traditional tools do not unlock the creative knowledge of network participants to its full potential. This new set of practices and tools will provide ways to mobilize resources, encourage participant engagement and align diverse companies to achieve collective goals.

CONESU Objectives

  • Gain new knowledge and insights on network orchestration of collaborative networks for sustainability.
  • Develop and disseminate best practices, tools and models to professionals (collaborative network orchestrators and participants) about the governance of collaborative networks in various key sectors that require transformational change towards sustainability.
  • Establish an annual conference for network orchestrators for continued professional development through learning communities, educational training, knowledge exchange and access to current research.
  • Establish a scholarly community that conducts high-quality engaged research to aid professionals, such as managers, investors or funders, and policy makers, in making decisions about establishing, joining or funding collaborative networks for transformational change towards sustainability.

As a consortium, we will create and develop professional knowledge and practical tools and frameworks. Through active participation and periodic reflection, the professionalization of network orchestration is a bottom-up, emergent process that involves our consortium members.


Collaborative networks have become key organizational vehicles for promoting transformational change towards sustainability in many industries, the projects aims to make an impact beyond the apparel industry. Conferences, publications and webinars will be organized to disseminate research results, best practices and tools to professionals. A scholarly community that conducts engaged research to aid professionals, such as managers, funders, and policy makers, in making decisions about establishing, joining or funding collaborative networks for sustainability as well as educational programs and executive trainings on network orchestration are targeted outputs of the project.

Consortium members of network orchestrators and participant organizations

Published by  Centre for Economic Transformation 20 February 2023

Project Info

Start date 01 Sep 2019
End date 01 May 2023