What we do


Global and regional programs

Over the past years, we have become increasingly interested and specialized in global and regional programs or, more generally, in global and regional development interventions that are characterized by fulfilling one or more of the following criteria:

  • Multilateral funding dedicated to a specific purpose;
  • Horizontal partnering for governance or implementation;
  • A globally or regionally distributed target group.

These initiatives have been researched by various groups and are roughly segmented into:

  • Global and Regional Partnership Programs (GRPP);
  • International Financing Institutions/Mechanisms (IFIs);
  • Global Public-Private Partnerships (GPPPs);
  • Other types not covered by the above definitions.

Current definitions are however somewhat overlapping (as shown in the picture below) and are usually not based on performance-related criteria. Click here to download a draft outline of our research addressing these issues.

Overall, global initiatives are clearly in fashion: The number of IFIs has more than doubled from 27 in 1994 to 60 in 2004 and the number of GPPPs has risen significantly over the last decade. The World Bank has become increasingly interested and invested in Global and Regional Partnership Programs (GRPPs) and other global interventions organized as trust funds.

The increased prominence of global interventions is most likely motivated by an aid-effectiveness-related harmonization rationale as well as the growing realization that collective action is needed for mitigating global risks.

GRPPs. In the past, we have been focused most on evaluating and researching Global and Regional Partnership Programs (GRPPs) that play an increasingly important role in international development cooperation.

GRPPs are used to channel and deliver development assistance to address urgent global or regional issues and concerns. These programmes are partnerships in which:

  • The partners contribute and pool resources (financial, technical, staff, and reputational) toward achieving agreed upon objectives over time
  • The activities of the program are global, regional, or multi-country in scope
  • The partners establish a new organization with a governance structure and management unit to deliver these services

Most of these programs are specific to a certain sector or theme, such as agriculture, environment, health, finance, or international trade. Almost all advocate greater attention to specific issues or approaches to development in their sector, but on different scales:

  • Some, generally small, programs are mainly policy or knowledge networks that facilitate communication, advocate policy change, and generate and disseminate knowledge and good practices in their sector
  • Other, somewhat larger, programs also provide country or local-level technical assistance to support national policy, institutional reforms and capacity strengthening, and to catalyze public or private investment in the sector
  • The largest programs also provide investment resources to support the provision of global, regional, or national public goods

Notwithstanding this diversity, GRPPs have many shared features that present challenges in design, implementation and evaluation and distinguish them from, for example, development projects or country-level programs.

  • GRPPs are programmatic partnerships with multiple donors, partners, and other stakeholders, whose interests do not always coincide. Translating the theoretical win-win concept into real-world mutual benefits poses a challenge;
  • GRPPs operate simultaneously on the global, regional, national and local level and require mechanisms for management, oversight and evaluation that effectively link these levels to each other;
  • Impact pathways of GRPPs usually show a large attribution gap, i.e. effects external to the program become more important than the program’s own cause-and-effect logic. This has posed challenges for planning, but also for evaluation of GRPPs;
  • GRPPs governance is multi-layered and complex and identifies the “sweet point” in trading legitimacy (e.g. inclusion and participation) with decision-making efficacy;
  • GRPP organizations are often virtual, i.e. program staff is employed by e.g. international organizations which can pose management problems.

GRPPs have great potential and sometimes seem the only efficient solution to pressing problems on a global scale. Due to their complexity, however, they are also prone to inefficiencies or failures.

Deep experience and fact-based understanding is required in order to design and implement these programs with maximum development effectiveness and efficiency. We help organizations attain this goal by offering our expert services: research, evaluation and strategic advice.

Public-private Partnerships. In the large arena of multiple stakeholder partnerships, we have become specifically interested in partnerships involving both public and private partners. All these interventions are recognising the important role of the private sector in advancing innovation, creating wealth, income and jobs, mobilising domestic resources and in turn contributing to poverty reduction.

Within these partnerships we see an increasing focus on actively involving low income population (as producer, consumers and entrepreneurs). This inclusive business approach aims at developing sustainable, market-based solutions that are commercially viable and can deliver measurable, impactful and scalable development results for those at the base of the pyramid.

Our activities to improve the effectiveness of these public private partnership programs includes (see also our advisory services):

  • Benchmarking studies
  • Design and conduct different types of program evaluation
  • Analyse and optimize your partnership portfolio
  • Design impact-driven program and portfolio
  • Design and optimize partnership governance

We, at IfDS, use the term Public-Private (Development) Partnerships to address all of these ventures. However, when taking a closer look, it becomes evident that several quite distinct types exist, sometimes within the same program. Typical of partnerships are:

  • Strategic thematic alliances include key players working on a jointed ‘systemic’ solution for an identified complex issue (including advocacy, agenda setting, etc);
  • Public Goods Partnerships focus on complementing deficient or inadequate government policies, for example compensating relatively weak governments. Examples are infrastructure, water supply and sanitation, where food and nutrition security is more and more considered as public good;
  • Product Development Partnerships, to develop and co-create innovative solutions (including services), based on the more efficient use of existing solutions, developing new solution and/or new markets;
  • Supply chain partnerships.

While these programs differ in many important aspects, they do share one key feature: they are based on a partnership model, where public and private partners share costs and benefits as well as risks and opportunities. These programs are also confronted with conflicting demands – development versus commercial goals.

While some partnership programs have existed for almost ten years now, a surprisingly limited amount of rigorous project-level evaluation has been conducted, resulting in a knowledge gap regarding patnership typology and development effectiveness and efficiency.

Already in 2008, eight out of the 22 bilateral OECD DAC donors had established Public-Private Development Partnership (PPDP) programs that either promote ‘public private partnerships’, ‘global development alliances’ or other types of initiatives designed to leverage the resources and expertise of the private sector. Several other donors have launched new programs or have similar schemes in the pipeline. The following links will take you to the website of some PPDPs:

Within the United Nations system and among the Bretton Woods institutions, similar partnership programs are in place in almost 20 different organizations.

We aim to better understand what types of partnersips offer the most promise within given donor frameworks, as well as how to design and run PPDP programs in order to maximize return on investment in both the development and business dimension.

To this end, we have been invited to conduct an independent evaluation of the Austrian Government’s Public-Private Development Partnerships (PPDP). This program evaluation is based on a theory-driven segmentation of the large and diverse portfolio of public-private partnerships the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) has implemented since starting the program in 2005. This approach represents an innovative and powerful way to effectively evaluate complex project portfolios. Both the business case and the development case are assessed, reflecting the overlapping but individual goals of public and private partners, and the program-level evaluation is supported by six project-level reviews.

To our knowledge, this evaluation represents the on of the first rigorous evaluation of a PPDP program.

Earlier, we have conducted a large-scale international benchmarking study of existing PDDP programs for the German government.

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