Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships in Development Sector: A Conceptual Framework
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Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships in Development Sector: A Conceptual Framework

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The MSP paradigm emerged in response to the failure of both the structural (that over-emphasize the role of government in facilitating development process) and the neo-classical or neo-liberal ...

The MSP paradigm emerged in response to the failure of both the structural (that over-emphasize the role of government in facilitating development process) and the neo-classical or neo-liberal theories of development (that negate the role of the government and regard free market economy as the key to economic development) to effectively address the complexities of development.

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Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships in Development Sector: A Conceptual Framework Document Transcript

  • 1. Conceptual Framework Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships (MSPs) in Development SectorBackgroundThe concept of development has undergone a major theoretical shift from top downadvocacy by classical Western economists who equated it with economic growth,industrialization and capital formation to the ones that took into account general wellbeing of people, improvement in their quality of life (UNDP) and widening of theirchoices (Amartya Sen). These approaches also severed ‘development’s associationexclusively with economic growth and capital formation; and poverty came to be definednot merely as denial of access to resources, but also as denial of access to ‘information or‘knowledge’, which is increasingly being regarded as indispensable for development.“International institutions, country donors and the broader development community arerapidly coming to the conclusion that knowledge is central to development - thatknowledge is development” (World Development Report, World Bank, 1998).The MSP paradigm emerged in response to the failure of both the structural (that over-emphasize the role of government in facilitating development process) and the neo-classical or neo-liberal theories of development (that negate the role of the governmentand regard free market economy as the key to economic development) to effectivelyaddress the complexities of development. The issue of increasing environmentaldegradation and inequitable development was, subsequently, raised from the UnitedNations’ platform at the ‘Earth Summit’ in Rio (1992) that put sustainable developmenton the agenda of all major international bodies. With it, MSPs are increasinglyrecognized as tools to facilitate sustainable development.The concept of Multi-Stakeholder Partnership traces its roots to Public-PrivatePartnerships (PPPs), but gained a wider connotation when the third sector or the civilsociety was seen as an important component having some unique competencies andresources. It is based on the realization that no sector of the society, on its own, caninitiate or contribute to the process of sustainable development; and partnerships areessential for providing it a more holistic treatment. In this respect, the MSP paradigmtakes a big stride from the culture of ‘debate’ (that dominated the interaction between thethree sectors of the society in the preceding decades) to that of ‘dialogue’ and assumesgreater significance in relation to emerging economies in the third world countries.Initially, this approach was known as tri-sector or multi-sector partnership, but, over thetime, the term ‘multi-stakeholder partnership’ gained currency and provided it a newdimension by introducing the term, ‘stakeholder’ as “Stakeholders… have a ‘stake’ or aninterest in a particular decision either as individuals or representatives of groups. Thisincludes people who influence a decision, or can influence it, as well as those affected byit.” (Hammati, Minu; Multi-Stakeholder Processes for Governance and Sustainability:Beyond Deadlock and Conflict; London: Earthscan Publications, 2001). Henceforth, theconcepts of equity transparency, accountability and risk sharing became the watchwordsof MSPs.Review of MSP Literature 1
  • 2. The concept of MSP is still evolving and so is the literature around it. It is still strugglingfor a strong theoretical foothold. Each MSP case study is enriching its knowledge base byadding some useful tools or by refining its methodology. Since it is a relatively newapproach, most of the MSP literature revolves around creating the tools for partnershipbuilding and maintenance. Instead of contradicting and critiqing the issues addressed byothers; different authors have only added up resources to make this approach morerelevant for sustainable development.The MSP literature primarily focuses on finding ways to identify areas and issues onwhich partners from hitherto unrelated and mutually opposing sectors of the society cannegotiate, collaborate and cooperate to attain the MDGs. For convenience, it can bebroadly divided into two categories: a) those dealing with MSP methodology and tools;and b) those dealing with how to make the partnership sustainable and successful.In the latter context, several authors have attempted to analyze the role of ‘broker’, ‘thirdparty facilitator’ or ‘leader’ in tri-sector partnerships. In “The Guiding Hand”, RosTennyson and Luke Wilde find the role of the ‘broker’ indispensable for facilitatingpartnerships. He carries the responsibility of building and continuing a successfulpartnership till its objectives are met. They have identified seven stages of partnershipbuilding. The broker plays an important role throughout this process till the partners startthinking in terms of institutionalizing or sustaining the partnership.The same argument is put forward by Michael Warner in his short novel, “The NewBroker”, where MSP is explained from the private/business perspective. He uses thenarrative format to discuss how MSPs can be effectively used to add value to thedevelopment programmes of the private sector, what are the major constraints to thepartnership building process and how these could be resolved through the mediation of a‘third party facilitator’.Minu Hammati’s book, “Multi-Stakeholder Processes for Governance and Sustainability:Beyond Deadlock and Conflict”, views the MSP paradigm as a major shift from formaldiscussions on development issues to actual action or implementation of programs.Taking an eclectic approach to understand MSP, it discusses the ‘building blocks’ that areessential for its sustenance in different situations/contexts. Partnership buildingprogresses through five stages- context, framing, inputs, dialogues/meetings and output.In a similar vein, “The Partnering Tool Book” by Ros Tennyson analyses all aspects ofpartnership building after establishing the rationale for using this approach.The idea of MSP finds a concrete shape in the issue paper prepared by the “OverseasDevelopment Institute” and the “Foundation for Development Cooperation” that focuseson each aspect of such partnerships in great detail. With reference to MSP case studiescarried out in different parts of the world under different socio-cultural and geographicalcontexts, it analyses its relevance for the business, government and civil society; theirrole in the partnership; and the resources, skills and competencies contributed by them tomake it successful.From these studies, it can be surmised that there is no ideal model of MSP that canaddress any situational or contextual demands. It is not a panacea for all problems, but incertain conditions, it can be applied very effectively. The MSPs vary from each other interms of the issues they have taken up, their objectives, scope or scale and their time 2
  • 3. frames. So, on the one hand, there are international MSP forums like the ones initiated bythe GKP and the World Bank (Business Partners for Development Program) while, on theother, there are short term, localized MSPs like the Ericsson Response to disastermanagement. The MSP case studies undertaken in different parts of the world suggestthat this approach is resilient enough to suit different situational and contextual demands.Still, there are certain parameters or indicators that ought to be present to classify anystudy as a MSP.The following table analyses the theoretical model of MSP as formulated and improvedupon by different authors; and its inherent contradictions:Sr. The MSP Paradigm as explained in Inherent ContradictionsNo. the Literature (Parameters/Indicators)1. Collaboration among different With a number of interest groups operating sectors of the society: the public within each sector, its homogeneity is sector (government organizations questionable. Even the NGO sector within functioning at various levels- the Civil Society is highly diversified in Central, State, District); the private terms of specialization: there are NGOs sector (business, industry) and the engaged in R&D, training and capacity civil society (NGOs, research building and implementing development organisations, academia, media) programs at the community level. - This partnership seeks to achieve Since the community is influenced by the end some common objectives in results of the partnership, their ‘stake’ in the addition to specific interests and partnership cannot be denied. goals of each partner, necessitating In this context, the questions that arise are- sufficient overlap of their individual goals/objectives. a) What is the status and role of the people or community within the MSP and in relation to - The beneficiaries of the other stakeholders? partnership are the people, along with the stakeholders themselves. b) Can they influence the decision making process? d) What are the ways (PRA?) in which they can be involved/included in the partnership decision making process? e) What are the procedures for monitoring and measuring the performance of the partnership against both individual and wider development objectives?2. Emphasis on the use of ICTs as The term ICT is used in the widest sense to development tools; enablers of include all traditional/modern ICT mediums sustainable development as they to facilitate wider reach in spite of help in bridging the digital divide infrastructural limitations. that would, consequently, lead to 3
  • 4. achieving some of the MDGs.3. Pooling together and contributing What are the hidden interests that drive unique individual resources, different sectors/interest groups to share competencies and strengths in a resources and competencies? complementary and synergistic way. - Sharing of skills, knowledge, human resources, values, etc in addition to funding. - Maximum use of the specialization or core business of the partners increases the relevance of partnership.4. Equity and transparency in terms ofMSPs with limited number of stakeholders decision making, goal setting and can strive to achieve equity and transparency. implementation to build trust and But what about MSPs with several hundred understanding among the partners. partners and broader objectives where Sharing of risks, responsibilities partnership building is an ongoing process with different levels and structures of and accountability. influence/impact and involvement. a) What are the rules for joining or leaving a partnership? b) What are the strategies for communicating with the stakeholders and other interested parties? c) Which partners form the ‘core’ of MSP and how other partners relate to them? d) Which sector/interest group dominates decision making at a particular stage/phase? e) What is the exact role of partners who are on the periphery or are indifferent/inactive at the moment? f) What values/issues sustain their interest in being a partner? g) What values/issues drive the MSP to seek and justify their continuation in 4
  • 5. the partnership? h) What are the roles that they can take up at a particular stage/phase in the MSP? i) What is the exit strategy for the partnership as a whole? Therefore, mapping the entry and exit points of different partners can yield valuable inputs to understand the dynamics of long term partnerships.5. Since the stakeholders are drawn a) Is it appropriate to use a term like from drastically different sectors of ‘broker’ in the context of MSP? the society with different values b) Who can ‘broker’ or negotiate a and work culture, negotiations and partnership: conflict resolvement are crucial for the continuation of the partnership. • An individual or an - There should be grievance institution? mechanisms to resolve differences • One of the stakeholders or a and facilitate negotiations among third party facilitator? the partners.6. MSP is also seen as a process that facilitates the development of mechanisms to provide practical solutions to complex social and development related problems. In terms of process, it emphasizes on scoping of issue areas, identification of stakeholders, negotiations, building and maintaining partnerships, resolving conflicts of interests, and finally implementation, monitoring and review of partnership objective/s. 5