Key determinants of effective partnerships: The case of partnerships between lead firms and farmers in pineapple value chains in Uganda and Kenya
Over the last decades partnerships have become a pervasive element in studies on the organization of social and economic activities at both national and international levels. It is worthy of note that notwithstanding the popularity of the concept as evidenced by the vast amount of articles on the topic, Barnes & Brown (2011) recently described partnerships as of poor theoretical appeal, under-defined, and poorly scrutinized. Their conclusion is mainly inspired by experiences in the area of economic development, as partnerships are explicitly mentioned in the Millennium Development Goals (goal eight refers to “global partnerships for development”). A loose definition of partnerships as linkages between independent organizations for achieving economic and social objectives includes partnerships that widely differ in terms of size, scope and complexity. Partnerships may range from the UN/Nike foundation for adolescent girls in developing countries; to multi-stakeholder approaches (between NGOs, local governments, multinational companies and farmers); and relatively simple agreements at local levels (Toyota’s partnerships with suppliers; farmers partnering with agricultural lead firms). It is striking that most of the literature focuses on the logic of types of partnerships while neglecting the effectiveness and its key determinants of partnerships. In this article we try to contribute filling this void by focusing on relatively simple bilateral partnerships between farmers and lead firms in the value chains of pineapples in Uganda and Kenya. Rather than focusing on the logic of the (type of) partnership per se, we use data on (i) the assessment of relevant partnership characteristics, (ii) the organizational strength of the partner, and (iii) the outcomes of the partnership in terms of their capacity to upgrade the farmers.
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