Partnership development

The term ‘partnership’ is being used more and more – often for collaborations that are more along the contractor / supplier model – which is not necessarily an equitable partnership.

P4ID believes that for groups of organisations and individuals who come together in order to execute an international development programme or an international research programme, all members of that collaboration need to feel they all bring something to the table, and also derive a mutual benefit. That their partnership is therefore greater than the sum of its parts.

In order to do this, and to build up levels of confidence and trust in the first instance – crucial for highly dispersed groups that will not get the chance to meet face to face regularly – an initial, residential ‘inception workshop’ is advised. At this initial workshop, members also get to know each other, understand what motivates their colleagues and learn how best to work with them.

Much of the work involved in strengthening partnerships is inextricably linked with the development of your project, programme or funding proposal and P4ID advises combining the modules listed below with those of the Programme / Proposal Development workshop modules. This way, all members of the collaboration will get to meet, share their experience, establish agreed roles and responsibilities, align their individual and collective aims and objectives, as well as ascertain what each member can provide.

P4ID works with each collaboration on an individual basis to build up an agenda of highly interactive sessions and tools that will get the best from all members of the team. Aspects of partnership strengthening could include (but not be limited to) the following:

  • Working through individual/organisational aims to fit with collective aims and objectives for the partnership
  • Ironing out hidden agendas
  • Addressing imbalances of power
  • Challenges to collaborative working
  • Resolving those challenges
  • What to look for in a partner
    • Skills complementarity
    • Absorptive capacity
    • Alignment of institutional protocols and procedures
  • Looking ahead to, and planning for, the ‘small print’ aspects of partnering such as:
    • Alignment of institutional procedures, such as:
      • Due diligence
      • HR policies
      • Finance and budgeting
      • Agreements and legal aspects
    • How to end a collaboration satisfactorily