Books and Media
Worlds Apart: Local and Global Villages
Periphery and globalised capitalism
Ethnicity and ethnic conflicts in Afghanistan
Partnership for International Development
World Banks water policy
living up to promises
Partnership for International Development Rhetoric or Results?
Boulder, Lynne Rienner Publishers 2002, 205 pages, $ 36,95, ISBN 1-58826-069-0
Much like marriage, partnership in development cooperation is an institutional ideal as well as a social arrangement. In this book, Jennifer Brinkerhoff lays out defining dimensions of this key concept and seeks to resolve existing ambiguities. The opening chapters present a conceptual framework for both academics and development practitioners to fashion effective partnerships. Seen as the basis for cooperative development programmes, such partnerships are central to effective capacity building. Brinkerhoff spells out the pragmatic why of partnership; but her main focus is on elaborating on a clearer understanding of the how of partnership.
Power imbalances may always impact upon partnership relations. However, what matters most to the success of a partnership is the degree of mutual interests and the level of organisational commitment to work towards shared objectives. Brinkerhoff presents case stories of such cooperation. They are chosen with a view to illustrate how the suggested partnership framework can be implemented in practice. Brinkerhoffs intention is not so much to prove the validity of the framework, but to raise awareness and appreciation of the circumstances under which one approach may be more fruitful than another. For Brinkerhoff, partnership is a highly appropriate response to international challenges and a rational approach to address problems that are beyond the scope of any one actor.
How to structure and manage partnerships is never a value-neutral decision. Yet partnerships based on the model of learning organisations seem to be most effective. What Brinkerhoff does distil from the body of rhetoric and the genuine arguments in support of partnership, are its essential, defining dimensions. Partners need to retain distinct organisational identities that are accepted and respected, regardless of existing power differentials in a relationship.
Global trends in development cooperation both necessitate and facilitate partnership approaches. Eventually the term partnership itself may be superseded or at least complemented by the term network. In recent years, surely on the donor side, partnership seems to be on the retreat as a guiding principle, becoming more a rhetorical gimmick than a lived reality. Brinkerhoffs book is a timely contribution to help reverse this trend and to reassert the relevance of partnership for efficient aid. The book deserves attention among development practitioners, whose community, in recent years, has become perhaps a bit too complacent with the way aid is contemplated and delivered. To compromise partnership in aid is nothing short of a self-defeating exercise.