Purpose – In recent years, third sector-school partnerships have become more common and received increasing research attention. Yet, the ethical aspects of third sector-school partnerships have not been discussed in-depth. As a result, the field lacks a conceptual framework that makes possible in-depth understanding of the ethical characteristics involved in partnerships between public schools and the third sector. The aim of this paper is to fill this lacuna.

Design/methodology/approach – An integrative review of the general literature on stakeholder theory, corporate social responsibility, cross-sector partnerships, and strategic alliances, as well as of empirical studies on partnerships between schools and the third sector, offers insights on ethical conduct in these partnerships and their antecedents.

Findings – Based on the general literature on cross-sector partnerships and the educational literature on third sector-school partnerships, we offer a conceptual model and propositions about ethical conduct in these partnerships and its antecedents.

Originality/value – The innovative conceptual model makes possible a reevaluation of existing knowledge on third sector-school partnerships, and can support direct research of ethical aspects in these partnerships. In addition, the model provides conceptual language for administrators for managing practical ethical dilemmas in these partnerships.


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