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[ Contents ]

Organising local partnerships

Chapter 3
Optimising the results


3.2 Guiding, supporting and boosting the partnership


    3.2.1 The needs updated

The partnership dynamic evolves according to the stages of development whose successful completion it ensures through the mobilisation of the different actors and their gradual integration.

It thus plays a big part in the inclusion and positive utilisation of diversity, in the joint elaboration of a local perception of the area's problems, in the collective elaboration of the most widely acceptable solutions and finally in this radical modification of behaviours which transforms actors into partners and competitors into associates.

Such an evolution is evidently not easy and involves the use of "tools" able to accelerate it, amplify it and expand it to the different levels of the partnership.

That is to say that coordination, information and training, generally cited as decisive supports of the development action, apply as a matter of priority to the partnership by actually covering two sets of needs:

  • Reinforcement of the internal functioning of the various partnership levels;

  • Expansion and spreading of the partnership's external influence.

On the first point, coordination, training and information help to manage the oppositions, conflicts and the refusals resulting from the creation of a triple tension:

  • tension between different interests, which causes different actors to adopt contradictory positions. Besides merely resolving personal disagreements, coordination must strip away easy consensus to reveal the underlying contradictions, and to look beyond those contradictions to find deeper meaning in the activity of each individual in order that new under-standing may lead to closer ties and integration;

  • tension between pressure for quick results and the need to stand back. The push for visible results encourages constant focus on the short term and a superficial approach to genuine problems; more forward-looking vision means taking into account a growing complexity and leads to actions which tackle sectoral action on a broad front or transform it radically. Coordination and training in local development can resolve this type of tension;

  • tension between the dynamic of a particular project inevitably run by the interested parties alone and the formulation of an area-based strategy involving a whole range of actors in setting up the structural elements of sustainable development.

On the second point - the partnership's external influence - training, coordination and communication help find solutions for two types of needs:

  • appropriation of the work by the partners - The fact that the partners formally belong to the local partnership in no way means that they actively participate in it, nor that they take over its activities and results. In the case of individuals, for example, while formal members of the local partnership, they may be absent or not regularly attend the activities organised by the partnership and therefore not be very informed. In the case of institutional partners, operators who are not really representative of these institutions may be the ones who participate or there may be a constant turnover of these people, making the appropriation of the action by the institutions concerned difficult or even impossible. The local partnership must therefore introduce mechanisms to avoid these pitfalls;

  • enlargement of the partnership base - More than a mere necessity, this is the very expression of the evolution of local partnerships. Without this enlargement, the partnership would in the end no longer be a local partnership and only represent the interests of certain groups or individuals. This, however, does not mean that such an enlargement is permanent: analysis of experiences shows that it occurs at certain specific moments of the partnership's history, corresponding to phases of maturity when the enlargement appears as a necessity, or when the opportunity to do so arises. The enlargement can be either formal or informal. Informal partnerships are particularly useful as intermediary stages of a gradual process of enlargement.

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