The notion of ‘partnerships’ can be seen as a process in which partners commit to long-term, structural interaction based on a shared analysis that every actor suffers from a number of failures, consequently a shared vision of sustainability and a shared ambition that all partners should play a role in its achievement.

The underlying idea of partnerships is that by generating additional knowledge and resources, results can be achieved that benefit all parties and which they could not have achieved on an individual basis. Collaborative advantage is achieved if the following equation is reached: 1+1+1=4. The widely-held expectation is that (cross-sector) partnerships provide both organizational benefits to their member organizations and create synergy to achieve effective outcomes for society.

Partnerships, thus, have three basic dimensions: analysis, vision, ambition. Together they can be portrayed as a Partnership Box, consisting of eight possible building blocks.