By bringing together their respective competencies and resources for the greater good, governments, business, civil society and multilateral agencies have been seeking innovative ways to work together to respond to the myriad global challenges of our time: the impact of climate change; human security; the prevention, care and treatment of HIV/AIDS and other major diseases; the generation of new investment, entrepreneurship and employment; and financing for development. The appetite for such partnerships appears strong. Over 90% of corporate executives responding to a World Economic Forum survey felt that future partnerships between business, government and civil society would play either a major role or some role in addressing key development challenges. This trend will only be increased by the Western financial crisis and the retreat of the state from many areas of societal concern. In the last 15 years, many new partnerships have been formed, and many new people exposed to partnership ways of working. There have been remarkable successes, but also a range of concerns about effectiveness and accountability.
Partnerships can work, but can they work better? Many practitioners are now asking how they can achieve a greater scale of impact to match the magnitude of the social and environmental challenges we face. When considering how to equip their organization or programme with the necessary skills to engage with companies in new ways, many leaders of NGOs or UN agencies hire staff from the private sector. Although such staff exchanges are important, it is not sufficient to rely on private-sector staff to develop and implement strategic forms of engagement. Rather, engaging business for social change is a specialism in itself. This book seeks to distil some of the author's 15 years of experience and key learnings on the advanced strategic planning of partnerships for people who work within civil society or public-sector organizations and who already partner with companies.
Much of the research focus to date has been on operational issues, rather than on the strategic challenge of evolving partnerships to achieve a greater scale of impact. Rather than helping the reader with moving on from partnerships, this guidebook is intended to help with moving up to a greater scale of impact. The author identifies three generations in the evolution of cross-sector partnering and draws insights from the latest biological evolutionary theory on how complex systems can sustain themselves over time, translating this into a method for understanding and assessing partnering practice. Evolving Partnerships provides a rich and accessible mix of commentary, boxes for clarification, and 11 exercises to help the reader evolve partnering to achieve a wider level of impact – a level that responds to the scale, depth and urgency of the challenges we face today.
Written by one of the world's leading authorities on partnerships and a key architect of global partnerships, including the Marine Stewardship Council, Evolving Partnerships will be essential reading for all those involved in cross-sectoral partnerships.
- 2011 Routledge
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