Development Cooperation Handbook/Partnership Management
Partnership is a structured cooperation amongst individuals and organizations.
Development cooperation actions are formally always done in partnership. However, many times these partnerships remain just "in name" and in fact there is a leading organization, acting as a sort of subcontractor of the donor, that informs other organizations on what they should do in order to get money allocated for such sub-tasks. In such cases, the other organizations may still be formally called "partners", but in fact they are subcontractors to which tasks are outsourced by the lead organization.
Real partnerships, instead are based on reciprocal empowerment and subsidiarity. The quality of the outputs of a cooperation action is strictly dependent upon the quality and authenticity of the partnership, since it is the main driver of the communication climate within the project.
There is a strong a relationship between the cooperation done by individuals that are colleagues within an organization and the cooperation done amongst partner organizations associated for the achievement of the objectives of a development program or project. In a sense, establishing a cooperation programme amongst different organizations is like making a temporary meta-organization, where each organization becomes a partner with the other organization, until program objectives are achieved. Organizations, where there is a healthy internal communication and cooperation climate, are better able to manage programme partnerships. An important determinant of the partnerships is, therefore, how the organizational cultures are framed and how they are centered in nurturing the cohesiveness and solidarity of their teams?
In development cooperation actions, your real co-workers are your team members, that could be employees of different organizations. When the partnership is not well structured, development workers find themselves in conflictual situations between their allegiance to their team and their allegiance to the interest of the employer organization. When instead, the modality of relationship amongst partners really expresses the task distribution defined in the action plan, then organizations empower each other and learn from each other in the same way that colleagues do in learning organizations. And, in the same way that organizations need to be projectized in order to generate a learning and employee empowering climate, so also partnerships need to be well structured where everybody's tasks and duties are well defined and efficiently allocated. And in order to have lasting benefit from project results and capitalize knowledge, project plans need to be coherent within wider perspectives of organizational partnership strategies.
When organizations of different countries learn to work together in a spirit of real partnership, they show how different countries and different civilizations can empower each other, learn from each other and relate in a positive sum game modality, where all stand to win.
Subsections of this chapter
In the documentary story ⇒ Getting partners on board