Most of us believe that partnerships work, but we don’t really have the proof. Much more importantly, we don’t know how they work and how their performance can be improved.
Public-private development partnerships are a promising means for implementing new solutions for sustainable development. Public and private partners bring together their individual strengths and resources to reach individual and joint objectives more effectively.
The new Endeva report “Proving and Improving Development Partnerships” documents solutions and good practices for measuring results in development partnerships. Based on 13 case studies, the study identifies 12 good practices that can help to make results measurement a tool for enhancing the performance of partnerships.
Key insights from the study include that building a theory of change together helps to align the partners’ vision, avoid conflict, and gets the partners on a joint learning path. Building on this theory of change, measuring intermediate outputs can help to learn faster and understand the links between activities and ultimate outcomes better. A focus on the intermediate level also triggers experimentation with different approaches. This learning-oriented approach to measurement also asks for flexibility during implementation, while sticking to established practices.
Even though there is a lot partners can do today to measure results, donors, private-sector actors and academies could still greatly enhance the environment for measurement. The study recommends to:
- Establish Centres of Excellence that can coach partners in setting up results measurement systems and consolidate and share findings
- Offer training sessions and peer-learning forums for practitioners. Forums where partnership managers can present and receive feedback on their results measurement systems could be particularly effective. • Basic research that proves links between intermediate and ultimate outcomes (e.g. if people wash their hands with soap they will suffer from fewer infections) relieves the burden of proof on these complex questions from projects. Donors could generate lists of these research questions and fund universities to work on them.
- A shared dabatase with evidence from partnership projects would be useful to benefit from insights and experiences of others, and advance more quickly in developing effective approaches. The study was presented to the Global Partnership for Effective Cooperation in Mexico in May. It is to be hoped that this forum for donor coordination can make progress on building the foundations for more effective partnerships.
“Proving and Improving Development Partnerships“ was published in January 2014 by Endeva. The study was conducted by Christina Tewes-Gradl, Marieke de Ruyter de Wildt, Claudia Knobloch, and Johanna Huppert. This publication is available for free download from the Endeva Publications Page. A webinar on the basics of measuring results will be provided in cooperation with Ashley Insight on XX.