Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships Issue Paper
Global Knowledge Partnership Secretariat, 2003
In recent years, the term “multi-stakeholder partnership” (MSP) has gained much currency in development circles, trouncing the popularity of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP). However, proof of successful practice in the realm of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) is scant as documented examples of truly effective MSPs are few.
MSPs are about partnerships that are greater than the sum of its parts and about creating lasting and meaningful impact at all levels of action.
They are meant to promote a more holistic approach to development and better governance.
The concept of MSP as an instrument for achieving development goals is sound, particularly when stakeholders with unique complementary strengths or core competencies add value to development efforts and pool their resources and assets in solving problems. But while many laud the virtues of MSPs, most are struggling to make them work.
The central challenge seems to revolve around the nurturing of a working relationship based on trust, mutual respect, open communication, and understanding among stakeholders about each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Stakeholders from each sector bring their own organisational mandates, interests, competencies and weaknesses to partnerships. Without open acknowledgement of these factors, and without processes in place to facilitate negotiations among stakeholders for optimal outcomes, effective MSPs will not emerge.