The Partnering Initiative (TPI) is an international not-for-profit organisation dedicated to driving effective collaboration for a sustainable world. Founded in 2003, originally as a partnership between the University of Cambridge and the International Business Leaders Forum, since 2013 TPI has been an independent organisation registered as a charity in the UK.
TPI works with all sectors to promote and develop effective collaboration, providing organisational development services, including strategic advice and partnership evaluation, as well as training and capacity building programmes which promote new standards of professional practice. Further we work at the systems level – building the enabling environment and creating platforms to promote and support partnerships to deliver transformational change.
We are committed to capturing our experiences of partnership and developing cutting-edge theory from all our programmes. We continually create and renew our practical tools, processes and approaches which help collaborations reach their full potential. Our toolbooks, case studies and research papers promote new standards of partnering practice and build practitioners skills and knowledge around the world. These are available to download for free, through the Resources section of this website.
TPI is founded on a passionate belief in partnering as a key mechanism for creating a sustainable world, because today’s economic, environmental and societal challenges are so complex and interconnected that they can only be tackled by different sectors working together.
Today there are many examples of multi-stakeholder collaborations where government, business, civil society, and development agencies are joining their resources and competencies to stimulate innovation, maximise impact, and ensure sustainability. However, if we are to tackle the challenges our societies face today, we will need to see such action hugely scaled up and made much more systematic. And we will need to see the quality of partnering increased to ensure partnerships are set up to be robust, efficient and effective, as well as to reduce the often significant transaction costs involved in partnerships.
The word ‘partnership’ is widely used to mean a variety of relationships. TPI’s working definition is:
”A cross-sector or multi-stakeholder partnership is an ongoing working relationship between organisations combining their resources and competencies and sharing risks towards achieving agreed objectives while each achieving their own individual objectives.”
Partnerships and collaborations are initiated and formed for many different reasons, TPI believes that when created in appropriate contexts, partnerships can bring:
- Innovation and new, creative ways of solving old problems
- The power of combining complementary resources
- Quality, legitimacy and sustainability
In the case of complex issues, we have no choice other than to work in collaboration, with different players, different societal sectors, holding different parts of a sustainable solution.
Collaboration between stakeholders with different missions, interests and cultures can be difficult to achieve. It requires commitment and new forms of leadership; a collaborative mind set and a specific skill set; as well as both strong relationship management and output-focussed project management.
Underlying all this is the necessity to adhere to the core principles of partnership, and to go through a rigourous partnering process, to ensure the greatest chance of success.
With these critical elements in place, partnerships can achieve real impact. Without them, partnerships are likely to under-perform or fail altogether. TPI’s mission is to drive effective partnering, and we support individuals and organisations from all sectors to develop these skill sets and processes.