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The universal common good: faith-based partnerships and sustainable development


  • Stephen Morse

    (Department of Geography, Whiteknights, University of Reading, Reading, UK)

  • Nora McNamara

    (Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary, Brookville, West Park, Artane, Dublin, Ireland)


Partnership is increasingly espoused as the best relationship between members of the sustainable development aid chain, and implies a respect for the position of all and a desire to avoid a situation where one group dominates another. It also implies a form of relationship that is not just 'better' for the sake of it but that is more able to help achieve sustainable development. However, given the inevitable inequalities in power between donors that have the resources and field partners that do not it can be hard to put this ideal into practice. This paper explores the function of partnership within a group of closely related institutions that comprise the Catholic Church development chain. The research focussed on three Catholic Church based donors (one from the USA and two from Europe) and their partners in Abuja Ecclesiastical Province, Nigeria. Relationships between and within various strata of the Church in Nigeria were also examined. Relationships were 'patchy' at all levels. One of the donors had a significant operational presence in Nigeria and this was regarded by some respondents as a parallel structure that seriously undermined local bodies. However, while problems existed, there was a sense of inter-dependence arising from a shared sense of values and Catholic Social Teaching, which allowed partners to work through their stresses and conflicts. It is the innate sustainability of the aid chain itself founded upon a set of shared values that provided the space and time for problems to be addressed. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Morse & Nora McNamara, 2009. "The universal common good: faith-based partnerships and sustainable development," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(1), pages 30-48.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:17:y:2009:i:1:p:30-48 DOI: 10.1002/sd.368

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Brinkerhoff, Jennifer M., 2002. "Assessing and improving partnership relationships and outcomes: a proposed framework," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 215-231, August.
    2. Bantham, John H. & Celuch, Kevin G. & Kasouf, Chickery J., 2003. "A perspective of partnerships based on interdependence and dialectical theory," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 265-274, April.
    3. Bebbington, Anthony, 2005. "Donor-NGO relations and representations of livelihood in nongovernmental aid ahains," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 937-950, June.
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