The term 'partnership' is
now widely used where more than one organisation or interest
is involved in a regeneration programme. It may be too
widely applied to situations where one powerful organisation
is doing no more than consult with others, or mask
fundamental differences of approach and objectives that will
later lead to conflict. Building Effective Local
Partnerships offers as a definition:
'A partnership is
an agreement between two or more partners to work
together to achieve common aims'.
This section deals
- The characteristics of
successful and unsuccessful partnerships.
- The difference between
partnership and other forms of participation.
- Some apparently easy
answers to partnership
- Guidelines for creating
The following factors for
success emerge from surveys of partnerships, and workshops
of practitioners involved in creating and running
- Agreement that a
partnership is necessary.
- Respect and trust
between different interests.
- The leadership of a
respected individual or individuals.
- Commitment of key
interests developed through a clear and open
- The development of a
shared vision of what might be achieved.
- Time to build the
- Shared mandates or
- The development of
compatible ways of working, and flexibility.
- Good communication,
perhaps aided by a facilitator.
decision-making, with a commitment to achieving
- Effective organisational
The following are
characteristics of failed attempts at partnership, or
warnings that something is going wrong:
- A history of conflict
among key interests.
- One partner manipulates
- Lack of clear
- Differences of
philosophy and ways of working.
- Lack of
- lUnequal and
unacceptable balance of power and control.
- Key interests missing
from the partnership.
- Financial and time
commitments outweigh the potential benefits.
Effective Local Partnerships, The
It may be easier to develop
an appropriate approach to partnership if you have a simple
theoretical framework for thinking about the wider issues of
Sherry Arnstein, writing in
1969 about citizen involvement in planning processes in the
United States, described a ladder of
1 Manipulation and
2 Therapy. Both are non participative. The aim is to cure
or educate the participants. The proposed plan is best
and the job of participation is to achieve public support
by public relations.
3 Informing. A most
important first step to legitimate participation. But too
frequently the emphasis is on a one way flow of
information. No channel for feedback.
4 Consultation. Again a
legitimate step - attitude surveys, neighbourhood
meetings and public enquiries. But Arnstein still feels
this is just a window dressing ritual.
5 Placation. For example,
co-option of hand-picked 'worthies' onto committees. It
allows citizens to advise or plan ad infinitum but
retains for power holders the right to judge the
legitimacy or feasibility of the advice.
6 Partnership. Power is
in fact redistributed through negotiation between
citizens and power holders. Planning and decision-making
responsibilities are shared e.g. through joint
7 Delegated power.
Citizens holding a clear majority of seats on committees
with delegated powers to make decisions. Public now has
the power to assure accountability of the programme to
8 Citizen Control.
Have-nots handle the entire job of planning, policy
making and managing a programme e.g. neighbourhood
corporation with no intermediaries between it and the
source of funds.
Arnstein's ladder of
participation suggests some levels are better than others. I
think it is more of a case of horses for courses - different levels are appropriate in different
The key issue is what
'stance' you take if you are an organisation initiating or
managing a process of participation or partnership
I suggest thinking of five
levels - or stances - which offer increasing
degrees of control to the others involved.
least you can do is tell people what is planned.
identify the problems, offer a number of options, and listen
to the feedback you get.
You encourage others to provide some additional ideas
and options, and join in deciding the best way
Acting together: Not
only do different interests decide together what is best,
but they form a partnership to carry it out.
community initiatives: You help others do what they want - perhaps within a framework of grants, advice and
support provided by the resource holder.
The 'lower' levels of
participation keep control with the initiator - but they
lead to less commitment from others. Partnership operates at
the levels of Deciding Together and Acting
Information is essential for
all participation - but is not participatory in
Apparently easy answers to
When local authorities,
private sector bodies, and indeed voluntary organisations,
are faced with tight timetables and firm guidelines it is
difficult to think through the complexities for
participation and partnership. There is a strong temptation
to go for a quick fix and hope to sort things out later.
Here are a few health warnings on different forms of
Set up a forum
A forum may seem an easy way
to get a wide range of interests together and act as a
sounding board, but should it be labelled a partnership? For
- Will the different
interests be able to develop a common vision - or
will they simply argue for their individual
- How representative will
the forum be? Will it just represent large,
- Will the implementing
organisations be bound by forum decisions?
Create special interest
Rather than putting all
interests together, give them each a forum. But
- Are they a
- Who decides the issue or
area to be covered?
- How will an overall
vision be developed?
- Will it be possible to
support and service all the fora: what resources are
- Will there be sufficient
interested people with time to spare?
Instead of creating more
organisations, give community representatives seats on the
decision-making bodies. However:
- Who will choose the
representatives and on what basis?
- Will they have the same
support and access to information as others on the
- How will they discover
and express the views of community interests?
- What checks will people
have on their representatives?
Set up a development
Development trusts are
non-profit-distributing companies, which may seek charitable
status. They have their own staff and are governed by a
Board including a range of interests. They are described in
more detail elsewhere in this guide - but they may
not always be the most appropriate form of partnership.
- Do you have the time and
expertise to create and run a company?
- Will funding be
available to pay staff in early years?
- Will there be ways in
which the trust can earn income to maintain operations in
the longer term?
Form a steering group of
A steering group would have
more say than a forum, but not control resources like a
Development Trust. It may seem a reasonable compromise, but
- Will the members expect
more power than implementing bodies are prepared to
- Will the different
interests have sufficiently similar styles of working to
- How will steering group
members be selected, and how will they relate to their
- Will they able to
deliver, or will they just be another talking
Run a Planning for
Instead of relying solely on
formal structures, using workshop techniques allows
participation to be taken to residents and others. Planning
for Real is one powerful technique which allows participants
to build models of the neighbourhoods they want, and develop
action plans. It provides more active involvement than
public meetings or fora. However:
- Does running the
exercise imply that the results will be adopted? Are
budgets sufficiently flexible for this?
- Will a development
worker be available to support groups which form around
the ideas developed?
- Will there be time for
ideas to be worked through?
- Who will
Get the money first, worry
about partnership later
Dress up funding bids with
token representation, then bring people on board when the
money is there. This may be convenient for the bidding body - however:
- Will it then be possible
to gain the commitment of other partners whose support,
skills and funds may be needed?
- Will local groups
challenge rather than support plans which have been
developed without them?
- Will the funder see
through the ploy?
- Will plans be flexible
enough to respond to local needs and demands?
Here are some guidelines
which may offer you a way of deciding what sort of
partnership you may wish to create, and how to make a
- Clarify your own aims
and objectives in forming a partnership. What are you
trying to achieve, and how will you explain
- Identify the
stakeholders - the key interests who can help or
hinder the project or programme - and put yourself
in their shoes. Who holds the power?
- Consider who you really
need as partners, and who would really want to be a
partner. Some stakeholders may simply want to be
- Before approaching
potential partners, make sure you have support and
agreement within your own organisation about working with
- Make informal contact
with partners to find out about their attitudes and
interests before putting formal proposals.
- Communicate with your
partners in language they will understand, focusing on
what they may want to achieve.
- Plan the partnership
process over time. For example, a new organisation may
well take a year to set up.
- Use a range of methods
to involve people - workshop sessions as well as
formal meetings. Be sociable.
- Encourage ideas from
your partners. Ownership leads to commitment.
- Be open and