One of the goals of the Partnership Resource Centre (PRC) is to execute evidence-based research and further develop a theoretical framework on the linkages between partnerships and value chain development (ECSAD 2009). Within the PRC Trajectory on Global Value Chains, this goal was specifi ed into the explicit objective to improve public knowledge of how partnerships shape or organise the process of inclusion of smallholders and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in (global) value chains, resulting in more local sustainable competitiveness.

The global value chains trajectory takes as point of departure the multi tude of institutional constraints that prevent primary producers and SMEs from exploiting local and foreign market opportunities. Apart from adverse climate conditions, limitations in infrastructure, and health and education issues, market-oriented activities are hampered by the lack of an appropriate institutional business environment. Especially the rural poor often have no proper access to, for instance, credit, technology, or land titles, while their market prospects are insecure (Markelova et al 2009; Poulton et al 2006). Value chain partnerships are increasingly considered to be useful vehicles to tackle these limitations, evidenced

in the active promotion of particularly bi-partite partnerships between companies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The synergy derived from partnership cooperation can overcome failures resulting from unilateral action by actors confined within one of the societal sectors (Kolk et al 2008). By addressing the institutional business environment, partnerships can play a pivotal role in enhancing the chances for primary producers and SMEs to turn themselves into viable suppliers of local or global value chains (Bitzer et al 2011) in support of sustainable, local economic development.

Research Paper