Conceptualisation and experience of ownership in multi-stakeholder partnerships: Lessons from the HDECoVA initiative in Ethiopia
Keywords:multi-stakeholder partnership, public-private development partnership, ownership, technical and vocational education and training (TVET), Ethiopia
AbstractOwnership is commonly considered a key principle aiming to promote effective multi-stakeholder partnerships. This article explores the conceptualisation and experience of ownership in a multi-stakeholder initiative in TVET, with an empirical focus on a Public-Private Development Partnership (PPDP) in Ethiopia. The qualitative case study is based on insights derived from semi-structured interviews with project staff and partnership actors and an analysis of relevant documents. The findings indicate discrepancies between rhetoric and reality of ownership dynamics, which complicates the actual ownership practice. The goal of all-inclusive equitable participation, originally intended, is not achieved. Power is not equally shared in the initiative, as local actors play a limited role in the decision-making process, and therefore do not acquire ownership as intended. In this case, the PPDP approach reproduces inequality as international actors exert influence through indirect governance. This study suggests a coherent understanding of the ownership concept, which emphasises the relationship between all parties, promoting co-ownership, rather than merely defining the roles of donors and beneficiaries. PPDPs are likely to achieve better results and local actors may sustain outcomes when their capacity is built through active engagement in the process and the partnership is implemented through joint commitment, responsibility, and equal participation.
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