DSA2016: Politics in Development
Multistakeholder partnerships are considered critical to the 2030 Agenda. This Panel considers the ways in which partnerships may/may not produce transformative spaces for partners; co-produce transformative solutions to development problems; or reproduce existing power asymmetries.
A series of global summits in 2015 hammered out the 2030 Agenda, which includes a number of agreements to address development financing (July), sustainable development (SDGs: September) and climate change (December). Multi-stakeholder partnerships that bring together representatives from public, private and third sectors are often presented as an essential ingredient for the fair implementation of this global agenda, mirroring the participatory spirit in which these goals were created.
Studies of 'partnership' also often assume that establishing a 'partnership' automatically mitigates existing power inequalities. But what happens in practice? How partnerships are established and enacted will impact more or less positively on sustainable development for all. Yet, conventional partnerships research tends to elide the politics of, and operation of power in, partnerships. In the absence of such research, we are left with an inadequate analysis that creates the conditions for ill-informed policy decisions and the perpetuation of extant power hierarchies.
This Panel welcomes abstracts that address theoretical, methodological and/or substantive aspects of the genesis, development, structure and role of partnerships with reference to one or more SDGs, focusing on the relationship between partnerships and power. Papers could consider, for example, the power resources that different partners bring to a partnership (material or ideational); or the power relations within partnerships; or the ways in which partnerships might seek to insulate themselves from power asymmetries in their context. Papers should examine the implications of these power asymmetries to the functioning of the partnership and/or the external impact of the partnership.
The Developmental State of the 21st Century: Accounting for State and Society
This paper will assess China's developmental state within a broader theory of what outcomes represent "development" post-2015; and, what factors and partnerships are most crucial to generate these results.
Whether China fits the East Asian developmental state model has been the subject of scholarly discussion over the last decade. This paper's point of departure is to assess China's developmental state within a broader theory of what outcomes represent "development" and what partnerships are most crucial to generate these results in a post-2015 environment. While the technocracy, industrial policies, and subsequent industrial transformation are still important elements to a developmental state, the empirical realities of the concept have moved beyond these elements. As development is no longer simply conceived of as economic growth, but also encapsulating human development, the role of the developmental state must be rethought. Focusing on the state's ability to deliver collective goods, these goods such as welfare have become an important task for developing and developed nations alike, and nowhere is this more important than in China. With a rapidly aging population, inadequate social safety nets for marginalised groups, the success of the Chinese developmental state requires new dynamics between state and society to deliver services to various segments of society. Consequently, intimate connections between the political and industrial elites are no longer sufficient and may actually be counterproductive to the success of the developmental state. This paper will advocate for a developmental state framework that accounts for an emphasis on human development using China as a case study to contemplate the how and why a re-thinking of the developmental state framework is necessary.
Roundtable Power Dynamics: A Case Study of the Scotland-Malawi Partnership
The relationship between Scotland and Malawi is characterised by a 'partnership approach' to development. The extent to which this approach can challenge former relations of power between the two countries is explored in this paper.
Since 2005 Scotland and Malawi have been linked in a 'special relationship', formally beginning with the signing of a Cooperation Agreement that year with the First Minister Jack McConnell and President of Malawi, Bingu wa Mutharika. The beginning of this partnership saw the Scottish Executive exploit a quirk within the Scotland Act allowing them to have a modest budget for international development, a department technically reserved for the UK Government. Around half of this budget has annually since 2005 been spent on projects in Malawi; around about £4.5 million per year.
In spite of this small amount of government funding, the relationship between these countries has thrived in the past 10 years. An estimated 94,000 Scots and 198,000 Malawians are actively involved in partnership activities between the two countries, and 46% of Scots surveyed knew someone with a connection to Malawi.
The relationship between the two countries is said to build "mutual, two-way, dignified" relationships, and that it's about "partnership not charity". The relations between Malawians and Scots working together is portrayed as equitable and democratic. The extent to which this characterisation of power-free partnerships exists in reality is the main focus of this paper. Building on research undertaken in 2015, I explore how actors navigate the conceptual and ideological power they are given due to the particular material conditions through which their 'partnerships' are born, and consider whether or not development can ever free itself from the inherited power relations of the colonial era.
Dynamics of rentier bureaucracies: why Abu Dhabi is more committed than Qatar to the international partnership on climate change
I use a historical-sociological approach to Abu Dhabi and Qatar's bureaucracies to examine how the degree of power centralization explains their different degree of cooperation on SDD 13 (former MDG 7).
Why is it that similar states decide to take different paths in the multilateral realm? Why is it that whilst the UAE has opened its doors to the International Renewable Energy Agency; Qatar has in parallel shunned the UNEP and failed to make any significant commitment to the multilateral agenda for climate change?
Renewed interest in external relations of rich Gulf states shows that this subclass of actors is less inclined to cooperate than most states. Political economists argue that rentiers' favourable position in trade relations and capacity to weather the costs of international isolation guarantees their (relative) autonomy from international constraints. International relations scholars point to Gulf states' narcissism, which promotes bilateral ties over multilateral commitments.
Yet one major caveat is left unanswered: Why is it that very similar rentier states knowing similar incentives and constraints display different degrees of commitment to international cooperation?
I expand on rentier state theory to argue that different degrees of power concentration in Abu Dhabi and Qatar cause different dynamics of intra-bureaucratic rivalries. These in turn impact the degree and continuity of these states' commitment to international partnerships. Using the case of SDG 13 (former MDG 7), I argue that while Abu Dhabi's iterative relationship with Dubai has led to increasing and incremental international cooperation on climate change, Qatar's centralized power structure has made cooperation weak and sporadic. I rely on a process-tracing methodology at the meso-level of ministries, agencies and companies; and fifty elite interviews conducted in the Gulf.
A vehicle for SDG implementation? Understanding UNDP Partnership Agreements with emerging development partners
This paper focuses on UNDP’s Partnership Agreements with emerging development partners. Based on the analysis of initiatives related to SDG 17 I ask for the extent to which these Agreements are a promising mechanism for transformative action toward the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has set up Partnership Agreements (PAs) with eight 'emerging partner' countries - the BRICS, Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey. These PAs aim at contributing to the achievement of the MDGs and their successor framework. My paper examines the implementation of UNDP's PAs and asks for the potential of this mechanism to actually contribute to 'transformative action' towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
To start with, I briefly look at the underlying dynamics leading to these PAs. While UNDP has been trying to reshape its profile and identify additional funding sources, 'emerging partner' countries have attempted to integrate the UN's brand and networks into their development cooperation strategies. Against this backdrop, I examine how, to what extent and by whom dominance is exercised in the implementation of UNDP PAs, taking both material (funding) and ideational (framing) factors into account.
The empirical analysis focuses on two initiatives that are closely related to SDG 17. First, I examine the establishment of a UNDP global policy centre, set up to promote the role of the private sector in development processes. Second, I analyse UNDP's attempts to strengthen the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation as a multi-stakeholder platform supposed to reshape the global development cooperation framework.
While these two cases provide insights into quite different dimensions of UNDP-promoted partnership processes, both highlight the dominance of national governments in establishing, shaping and limiting development cooperation 'partnerships' and thus challenge the transformational potential of the PA mechanism.
The role of moral frameworks in global health partnerships: a case-study on worms.
This paper proposes bringing insights and analytical tools from political science, IR and anthropology together to better understand how diverging moral frameworks of global health actors affect their partnerships with each other. A partnership for deworming in Africa serves as a case-study.
Conflicting values are often cited as a concern when public organisations enter partnerships with private actors. Global public-private partnerships for health (global health partnerships) have become increasingly important and widespread. Researchers in political science and international relations have analysed the different forms partnerships for global health take, their governance models and means to evaluate their effectiveness. Anthropologists have produced rich work on the moral frameworks and ethical subject formation of global health actors. This paper proposes bringing insights and analytical tools from both fields together to better understand how diverging moral frameworks of global health actors affect their partnerships with each other.
The paper asks (1) which challenges and conflicts arise when actors with different moral frameworks enter partnerships and (2) what strategies they adopt to communicate and collaborate across different moral settings. A global health partnership for deworming in an African country serves as a case-study. Drawing on secondary literature, stakeholder interviews and ethnographic fieldwork, I will show that (1) conflicts arose over priority setting within the programme, with one side arguing through utilitarian and corporate approaches, while another set of actors framed their priorities in the language of human rights and sustainability. I will argue that (2) translation from one moral vocabulary to another played a critical role in ultimately achieving agreement between partners.
This paper suggests that by studying international actors' moral frameworks we can gain a better understanding of transnational public-private partnerships for development.
Is there a need to decolonlize international health research partnerships?
The silencing of power inequalities and politics may be most acutely demonstrated by health research partnerships. The vital function of improving the health and well-being of vulnerable populations renders the examination of partnership dynamics as low-priority and maintains a tradition of silence.
The partnering of universities in Africa and the UK to carry out collaborative research is a long-established and well-funded tradition that seeks to fulfill the dual purpose of empowering African universities whilst enhancing the health and well-being of vulnerable populations. University actors are considered to be equal and politics are deemed to be neutral, through the perceived impartial framework of a partnership agreement. However, the attention they give to advancing science and health may be silencing the power imbalances that exist between university partners.
This paper analyses the rhetoric and practice of health research partnerships by addressing the following questions: how does the language of 'partnerships' convey equality between actors and neutralise positionalities? How are expertise and knowledge privileged differently between university actors? Is the 'per diem' culture harmful for partnerships? What can the complexities of research partnership dynamics broadly tell us about wider dynamics of the state, decolonization and knowledge production?
The current revival of 'decolonization' in Development Studies, and the increasing emphasis on 'partnerships' as critical to the 2030 Agenda, paves the way for an examination of the structural inequalities and political economy of partnerships specifically in the area of health research, which despite their prevalence too often escape critical scholarly examination.
Real or perceived? Power asymmetries in an academic partnership programme that seeks to globalize sustainability scholarship
How can we globalize sustainability scholarship? How can we mitigate power asymmetries in global partnerships? This paper evaluates a global research partnership programme that offers practical answers to these questions by connecting sustainability scholars from the Global North and South.
The concept of global partnerships is prominent in discussions on sustainable development. For young scholars in the Global South, these are of particular importance: they help give scholars a voice and provide entry points into global research networks and career opportunities.
This paper provides an evaluation of findings from the pilot cohort of a new initiative to globalize sustainability and poverty scholarship. 'Global Colleagues' is a research partnership programme that pairs earlier-career scholars working on sustainability and poverty based in resource-constrained institutions in the Global South with more experienced scholars (mid-career or beyond) working on similar topics at relatively well-resourced, research-intensive institutions in both the South and North in one-on-one partnerships that last for a minimum of one year.
As Carbonnier and Kontinen (2014) underscore, research partnerships sit 'at the intersection between the scholarly and development worlds'. Further, 'implementing equitable partnerships is difficult' and research partnerships are 'far from immune to the tension and conflicts permeating unequal power relations accruing from unequal access to funding, knowledge and expert networks' (ibid). Drawing on the literature of best practices in partnerships, we have tried to find both a theoretical and practical solution through a partnership programme that addresses real and perceived power asymmetries from the outset. In addition to revealing perceptions of power in partnerships, surveys conducted with programme participants provide insights about the motivations, aspirations and ideas, as well as the challenges faced by young scholars to which sustainability research should pay attention.
Preventing 'partnership', perpetuating dependence: The detrimental effects of knowledge hierarchies on international cooperation
Persisting knowledge hierarchies reinforce existing power asymmetries in international cooperation. The hierarchical classification of expertise fostered by the aid industry hampers partnership at eye-level and, ultimately, keeps developing countries in a perpetual cycle of dependence.
The rise of the 'partnership' paradigm in the global aid discourse has brought about a significant shift in terminology: Declarations such as the 2030 Agenda no longer speak of 'donors' and 'recipients', but of 'partners' who aim to 'share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources' in order to attain 'sustainable development'.
The new rhetoric, however, merely masks that international cooperation continues to be characterised by asymmetric power relations. The unequal setting caused by one-sided dependency is reinforced through the perpetuation of knowledge hierarchies which place 'international' (i.e., Northern) over 'local' (i.e., Southern) expertise. This is confirmed by empirical research carried out in two countries that are often used as prime examples of the 'partnership' approach: South Africa and Tanzania.
The proposed paper seeks to shed light on the persisting inequality of 'partners' in aid related to discursive power. Presenting findings from a qualitative study based on 73 expert interviews and comprehensive document analysis, it reveals that contrary to donor claims which emphasise the importance of local knowledge, the latter is systematically devalued and its credibility deflated.
Drawing on postcolonial theory, the paper highlights the epistemic dimension of power imbalance inherent in international cooperation. The hierarchical classification of knowledge is one explanation why after decades of aid developing countries continue to rely on external assistance. Rather than being empowered through 'partnership', they are kept in a perpetual cycle of dependence.
Global Partnerships for Sustainable Development? Comparing the Cases of Climate Change, Education and Heath.
Studies of partnership often assume that establishing a partnership automatically mitigates existing power inequalities. But what happens in practice? This paper examines different configurations of power of partnership in global financing partnerships in climate change, education and health.
Multi-stakeholder partnerships that bring together representatives from public, private and third sectors are often presented as an essential ingredient for the fair implementation of Agenda 2030, mirroring the participatory spirit in which these goals were created. How partnerships are established and enacted will impact more or less positively on sustainable development for all. Many studies of 'partnership' investigate the formal rules that include new development actors and assume the mitigation of existing power inequalities. Yet, conventional partnerships research tends to elide the specifics of the politics of, and operation of power in, partnerships. What happens in practice? This paper examines and compares the configurations of power and practices of partnership in global partnerships in climate change, education and health. This analysis extends existing accounts of partnerships as essentially mitigating asymmetries of power, showing rather that in practice partnerships can deepen existing power hierarchies in the international system. Thus, this analysis contributes to debates on agency and power within the partnership networks that are central to the implementation of the SDGs and Agenda 2030.