In the policy discourse on sustainable development, the positive role of cross-sector partnerships is increasingly stressed. Governments habitually frame their partnership approach in terms of ‘PPPs’ - Public-Private Partnerships. But it is not very clear whether these initiatives actually are a combination of ‘public’ and ‘private’, whether these initiatives actually represent a partnership and whether they provide solutions for what type of problems. This book chapter addresses these questions and explores the right fit for sustainable development partnerships. It argues that this discourse can be redressed to four questions: (1) what defines the ‘space’ in which partnerships develop to address sustainable development issues and (2) what kind or relevant roles do parties bring into the partnership and (3) what does this imply for the organizational fit of the parties in partnering space and (4) how does the various degrees of fit contribute to sustainable development. Is there an ‘optimal fit’? In this book chapter the authors develop a taxonomy that should help in classifying roles, the resulting relationships and the degree of organizational fit needed to make the partnership meaningful for sustainable development. This exercise should also help to link the meso-level of partnerships to the macro-level (impact) of sustainable development.

Book Chapter