The Partnerships Effectiveness Model

The Partnerships Resource Centre developed a monitoring and evaluation approach that helps practitioners to get access to relevant knowledge on partnerships. The Partnerships Effectiveness Model (PEM) contains two dimensions: (1) a descriptive part that follows the partnership from its (start-up phase towards its output and outcome phase; (2) an analytical part that covers the four most relevant aspects of partnering: context, efficiency, effectiveness and impact. The academic background of this model is explained in a separate document.

  • Context refers to the particular environment in which the Partnership is operational. This can be (1) a country, (2) a city, (3) a value chain, but also (4) an issue, (5) a network. The context defines the configuration; identify and compare specific success and failure factors of partnerships in the context and generate knowledge on the specific characteristics of the partnership in the context.

  • Most partnerships are founded in a joint problem or issue for which actors try to define joint goals. In case problems are complex, aligning goals and means becomes more difficult, in particular when it is difficult to assign clear responsibilities. Who can be held responsible for the problem and who will consequently have to take responsibility? The fit between responsibility and problem/issue, between goals and means has consequences for the choice of appropriate types of partnership. In other evaluation studies this dimension is also referred to as ‘appraisal’.

  • The success of the partnership relies on the competencies and resources that are brought in by each partner. “What is invested in the partnership” can include resources based on the capacity and conditions under which the partners enter in the partnership. The input of partnerships consists of the means that are necessary to carry out the process, which can be either of material (money) or immaterial of nature (knowledge).

  • The actual dynamism, execution and implementation process/procedure of every partnership is defined as the “throughput” of the partnership. In other evaluation studies this dimension is also referred to as ‘activities’. The throughput dimension focuses on the structure within which partners work towards the partnership objectives. Governance, accountability (compliance, responsiveness and transparency), power and influence are critical variables which guide the partnership process.

  • The activities undertaken by the partners result in project outputs such as products and/or services, but also in redefined goals for the partners due to the accumulated experience in the project. Output represents the deliverables or what will be accomplished as a result of the combination of inputs and activities.

  • The changes, benefits and results brought by the partnership on both the partners and the wider society ask for the achievement of the strategy objectives and referring to benefits, modifications, learning or any other result from what the partnership activities/partnership project made.

  • Impact addresses positive and negative (long-term) effects produced by the partnership, directly or indirectly, intended or unintended. The impact of the partnership can be measured at the level of the partners, the stakeholders and the extent of socio-economic welfare. An increasingly popular measure of partnership impact is social impact.

    Further reading: Enhancing the impact of cross-sector partnerships.

  • Efficiency refers to competency in performance and the ability to accomplish the partnership activities with a minimum expenditure of time, resource and effort. Efficiency can be seen as the internal value added by the partnership. It often contains a ‘cost-benefit’ ratio.

  • The effectiveness of partnerships can be defined as “the added value of the partnership”. It measures the quality of the partnership performance, the opportunities that can be created by accomplishing the goals and whether the results could have been achieved with a different approach. This is also known as the ‘counterfactual’ argument. Evaluation studies often suggest that impact and effectiveness can only be measured by using a control group (that did not receive the intervention). In the practice of often unique partnership constellation, establishing control groups is often very difficult to realise. Other manners of assessing impact is by studying the changes due to the partnership in the actual behaviour of the participating partners. In case a firm, for instance, changes its business model as a consequence of the partnership, the effectiveness of the partnership goes beyond its own objectives. This can be dubbed a multiplicator effect via de changed strategies of the partners.