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ECPR Journals Virtual Special Issue

The Effectiveness of Informal Organisations: How Can We Learn More?

Moira Faul
University of Geneva
Moira Faul
University of Geneva

Public-private partnerships have become a ubiquitous form of informal organization in global governance. Such initiatives are often embedded in pre-existing intergovernmental regimes, but also operate across national and local levels, engaging a variety of non-state actors. While considerable research has been carried out into the rise of partnerships and their potential to solve an increasing range of social, economic and environmental problems, doubts remain as to their effectiveness. At the same time, the existing literature on partnership effectiveness is highly fragmented across several disciplines, and characterized by a plurality of definitions and tendencies to focus on input-output chains in assessing effects. Bringing different literatures into dialogue with each other, this paper contributes a conceptual meta-synthesis of four key aspects of partnership effectiveness: (1) value creation for partners; (2) collaboration between partners and advancing collective action; (3) relations outside the partnership with formal institutions across governance levels and their constituencies; and (4) contribution to problem-solving. We also offer reflections on the underlying assumptions of extant research, and propose three preliminary hypotheses on potential pathways to partnership effectiveness. Adopting a multi-disciplinary perspective, we reveal the historical under-appreciation of the complexity of the effectiveness of partnerships. The conceptual framework we develop can be used to position future research in relation to current competing approaches, and to open new directions for the study of effectiveness of informal organizations more broadly.
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