AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies


by Chanje Mkosa Dahlgaard

Institution: Roskilde University
Year: 2015
Keywords: CSOs; equal partnerships; power; practitioners; Influence; CISU; ownership; inertia; Value-ladenness; strategy; Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness; donors; ideals; practice; Robert A.Dahl; Steven Lukes; Michel Foucault
Record ID: 1121064
Full text PDF: http://rudar.ruc.dk/handle/1800/23145


Increasingly, partnerships with Civil Society Organisations are regarded as effective for sustainable development and this can be evidenced in the cardinal policy documents such as the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness and its sequels. On the other hand, critics have argued for these partnerships not living up to the ideals such as equality and being mere cover-ups for unequal relations and used as ideological vehicles for donors and other practitioners. However, even amidst the critique, practitioners continue to endorse partnerships as a solution to combating development problems in the South. Inspired by exposure to partnership dynamics through an internship with a Danish CSO, the aim of the thesis is to examine this schism through an instrumental case so as to understand how practitioners in general present and practice partnerships. The thesis explores the issues and arguments raised in a review by critics and how the principles of the concept partnerships and the practices thereof are reflected in the partnerships with CSOs. The theory of power is thus found relevant for the investigation so as to try and identify how power is possibly exercised under the rubric of the seemingly taken-for-granted partnerships in the development context and its role in this disarray. Robert A. Dahl’s pluralist concept of power, Steven Lukes’ one-dimension view of power through decision-making and Michel Foucault’s perception of power become the analytical tools. The analysis is based on empirical research comprising interviews with a practitioner representative and four CSOs and review of different policy excerpts on partnerships from selected relevant policy documents. Finally the findings suggest discrepancies between policy and practice as also argued by others, and moral inertia regarding the change of status-quo on practitioners’ side; and possibly on the Southern CSOs’ part. The thesis therefore maintains that conditionalities are still present in donor assistance programmes in subtle ways and the introduction of partnerships as a strategy has not really altered the unequal relationship between North and South as expected by the Paris declaration but camouflages inequities. An overall conclusion is that the idea of ‘equal partnership’ in the international development needs to be revisited, taking power and the value-ladenness of the partnership idea into serious consideration, to be able to fully understand the inertia.