The dynamics of multi-organizational partnerships: An analysis of changing modes of governance

Vivien Lowndes*, Chris Skelcher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

537 Citations (Scopus)


Multi-organizational partnerships are now an important means of governing and managing public programmes. They typically involve business, community and not-for-profit agencies alongside government bodies. Partnerships are frequently contrasted with competitive markets and bureaucratic hierarchies. A more complex reality is revealed once partnerships as an organizational form are distinguished from networks as a mode of social co-ordination or governance. Data from studies of UK urban regeneration partnerships are used to develop a four-stage partnership life cycle: pre-partnership collaboration; partnership creation; partnership programme delivery; and partnership termination. A different mode of governance -network, market or hierarchy - predominates at each stage. Separating organizational form from mode of governance enables a richer understanding of multiorganizational activity and provides the basis from which theory and practice can be developed. The key challenge for partnerships lies in managing the interaction of different modes of governance, which at some points will generate competition and at other points collaboration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-333
Number of pages21
JournalPublic Administration
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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