How to Scale Multi-Sector Partnerships: A PublicAffairsAsia Briefing and Infographic


PublicAffairsAsia has developed this briefing based on a survey and workshop which explored how to scale multi-sector partnerships in Asia Pacific. The research explores the essential steps, watchwords and fundamentals of building and scaling cross-sectoral partnerships which have impact and can be scaled.

The research was based upon surveys and interviews with over 40 practitioners, taking place online via self-submission, by telephone and email and during workshops held in Bangkok in June 2015 and at the 2015 SharingValueAsia Summit held in Singapore in October 2015. It was supported by funding from The ASEAN CSR Network.

Writing and research by Mark O’Brien

Click here to download the two-page infographic (as illustrated above).



1. How to scale multi-sector partnerships

Building lasting and scalable partnerships which involve corporations, NGOs and government are complex but increasingly important. While their success rests on many factors, here are five significant approaches which are likely to deliver positive outcomes.

  • Focus on the core competencies of the partners engaged – and identify “core conveners”
  • Know your eco-system – and broaden it through partnership
  • Bring the knowledge of all partners into your organisation – and pool resources
  • Actively forge “deliberate” shared value programmes – don’t do it all yourself
  • Be prepared for things to go wrong – because they will

Scalable Partnership: Key Concepts
Use technology; Develop trust; Use tools, methodologies and models; Secure blended investment; Be aware of global standards; Chart regulatory reforms and local laws; Mobilise private sector resources; Build in replicability; Avoid insular overlap; Understand expectations; Mobilise government – Secure its sponsorship, endorsement or, at least, its permission; Be aware of the policy environment; Do the due diligence; Blend finance and skill sets; Deepen scale within the communities; Hand over to others to reach scale; Build in flexibility.


RESPONDENT QUOTE: “The WWF does a solid job of scaling partnerships with impact largely because of their rigorous due diligence process where they invest considerable time and effort to gauge a prospective partner’s intentions and commitment to change.”


2. In what areas can PPPs and Shared Value programmes have impact?

We asked our survey respondents and roundtable participants to assess the areas where PPPS can really drive change. Food security and the environment were seen as ripe for PPPs, whereas the group thought it might be more difficult to deliver impact in the areas of tackling corruption or protecting and enhancing human rights.

One a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being very impactful, how much impact can PPPs have in the following areas:

Food Security & Sustainable Agriculture 8.8
The Environment 8.7
Health and Wellbeing 8.4
Anti-Corruption 7.9
Human Rights 7.6


3. What are the requirements for effective partnerships

We asked our survey respondents and roundtable participants what factors are important in creating long-standing and effective partnerships. This is how they ranked the following factors, determining trust to be the most important factor.

How practitioners ranked the core 15 requirements for effective partnerships

1st: Trust between partners
2nd: Common objectives
3rd: A project leader or leaders
4th: Mutual understanding
5th: Clearly defined roles
6th: Agreed responsibilities
7th: Effective communications channels
8th: A clear budget
9th: Mechanisms to measure ROI
10th: Agreed timelines
11th: A firm business or project plan
12th: Effective communications skills among partners
13th: Mechanisms to police conflict of interest
14th: Ability to achieve economy of scale
15th: Pre-agreed exit mechanisms, timelines for expansion and for wind-up or completion


4. Overcoming Simple Barriers:

We asked our survey respondents and roundtable participants what were the most common problems they encountered – and more importantly how they navigated these issues. Here’s what they told us:

  • Listen to stakeholders and localise strategies: If they don’t want or need what you are offering it will never succeed nor scale.
  • Don’t set out until you know where you are going: Investing time in planning up front, and communicating your plan, will save time and money later.
  • Don’t rush: Ensure there is a “discovery period” among partners where outcomes and targets are identified and relationships developed.
  • Address differences of opinion today: Otherwise they will become roadblocks tomorrow.
  • Avoid power imbalances: Understand that all parties are providing necessary services to each other and are therefore equal – even if the money or time commitments vary.
  • Don’t rely on key individuals too much: Partnerships should be embedded within organisations, not based solely on good relations between key staff.


The workshop and research was compiled by PublicAffairsAsia and its SharingValueAsia programme, with funding support from The ASEAN CSR Network

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