Rope knot showing collaboration

Seven Principles for Effective and Healthy Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships

Despite growing enthusiasm for multi-stakeholder partnerships, we shouldn’t be naïve. Getting people to work together towards common goals is never easy. Partnership is especially daunting when diverse and competing interests, perspectives and values are at stake, and different organisational and cultural contexts involved. It is not as simple as just sticking people in a room and hoping for the best.

What are Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships?

The MSP Guide describes Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships this way:

There are many different ways for groups to work together to solve a large and complex problem, or exploit a promising new opportunity. And people use many different words to describe these types of partnerships and interactions and the processes involved, from coalitions, alliances, and platforms, to participatory governance, stakeholder engagement, and interactive policy-making. We use the term ‘multi-stakeholder partnership’ (MSP) as an overarching concept which highlights the idea that different groups can share a common problem or aspiration, while nonetheless having different interests or ‘stakes’.

Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Challenges

This article briefly discusses some of the challenges of collaborating in an age of widening divides and some of the frustrations that many Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships encounter.

These are frustrations that will be familiar at some level to most network and partnerships leaders. That said, they are especially noticeable in Multi-Stakeholder Networks where the large number of members from many different sectors increase the complexity of partnering effectively.

In this article, authors Herman Brouwer, Minu Hemmati and Jim Woodhill draw on their experience to share seven principles for helping Multi-Stakeholder Networks work in effective and healthy ways.

Seven Principles for MSP Effectiveness

  • Embrace systemic change
  • Transform institutions or “the rules of the game”
  • Work with power to address power differences or abuses
  • Deal with conflict
  • Communicate effectively
  • Promote collaborative leadership
  • Foster participatory learning

This article also shares practical ideas for putting the principles into practice.


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