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Navigating Partnership Impact

Workshop title: Navigating Partnership Impact

Workshop facilitators: Prof. Rob van Tulder and Stella Pfisterer  

Function lead facilitator: Academic Director

Institution: Partnerships Resource Centre, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Relevance of the workshop for the conference theme ‘Partnering for Success: how M&E Can Strengthen Partnerships for Sustainable Development’?

The workshop directly deals with M&E as instrument for navigating impact in the partnering process of partnerships. The interactive workshop aims to stimulate impact thinking throughout the partnering process, so that M&E is considered as integrated part of successful collaboration and not just as an add-on. The tool includes illustrations of cross-sector partnership cases for sustainable development.

Workshop objectives and content

Many M&E tools have emerged that assert to assist organizations. In practice, many organizations involved in partnerships report to find standardized frameworks and tools unsuitable to their unique collaboration situation. They also report to feel unsupported by the tools to make choices regarding the many trade-offs that need to be made in M&E (e.g. accuracy versus timeliness). The buzz around tools and standardization steered organizations away from using M&E strategically to optimize their impact. This workshop is an effort to bring M&E back to what it is actually about: contributing to effectively achieving the desired impact.

In a partnership for sustainable development, making choices around M&E is hampered by levels of complexity. These are:

  • Multiple development stages in the partnership process (initiation, planning & design, realization, sustaining) at which different M&E issues are at play.
  • Multiple levels of analysis – and synergies between levels of analysis – at which partnership impact is created (individual in the organization, partner organization, partnership and society)
  • M&E in partnerships is path dependent, in that early choices influence the realm of choice in the subsequent phases.

Considering the above, we are in the process of developing a tool that presents respective pathways of M&E decisions about impact at various levels of analysis through possible process phases of partnering. For each possible pathway, we identify the core M&E tensions at each relevant level of analysis and provide guiding questions, suggested approaches and illustration. Ultimately, the tool aims to help practitioners to navigate their partnership impact throughout the whole process of partnering.

The workshop is set up around this tool and aims to discuss M&E challenges and the path-dependency of M&E choices in the process of partnering. We aim to critically reflect with practitioners and experts whether the tool captures their reality. The workshop provides participants the possibility to co-create with us a M&E tool for navigating partnering impact.

Type of participant who would be interested in the workshop:

Practitioners and academics working with partnership M&E