Inconclusive: The effectiveness of PPPs

Beneficiaries of an HIV prevention education program that is a part of a public-private partnership by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Standard Bank, Namibia Diaries, and the Namibia Business Coalition on AIDS. Photo by: Mary Jordan / USAID / CC BY-NC-SA

There is no strong evidence in existing literature that public-private partnerships are effective, according to a new paper that offers an alternative take on the impact of collaborations between public and private development actors.

The paper provides a critical analysis of existing literature about partnerships, a growing trend among donors, nongovernmental organizations and other members of the development community. It is based on a study by Abt Associates for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families.

The existing body of literature about partnerships is diverse and complex but does not adequately answer the question of whether or not, and in what conditions, collaborations are effective, the paper says. It adds that literature instead focuses on rationale, advantages and processes of partnerships. Further it says the few studies that tackle effectiveness measure outcomes based on the partner’s perception of effectiveness.

“Greater investment in rigorous evaluations of partnership effectiveness is needed to build up the evidence base and to guide funders and organizations deciding whether to invest their time, resources, and energy in collaborative approaches to achieving shared goals,” the paper says.

Future research, the paper adds, should also focus on providing an appropriate definition of partnership effectiveness and exploring the relationship between partnership capacity and effectiveness.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.