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A plague on all your partnerships: theory and practice in regeneration

Andrew Coulson (Institute of Local Government Studies, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 1 March 2005




Much of the writing on partnerships implicitly assumes that they are beneficial. Other literature points out that partnerships are seldom of equals, and can become instruments of oppression whereby a strong partner gains at the expense of weaker members. This has been taken up by community development specialists with particular reference to the position, at best ambiguous, of representatives or residents of local communities on the boards of regeneration partnerships. This paper aims to review this theory.


Reviews partnerships and briefly considers three types of partnership in the UK: private finance initiatives (PFI) or public‐private partnerships (PPP); local strategic partnerships; and local area regeneration partnerships.


Concludes that partnerships need time to grow for confidence to be gained inside as well as outside the partnership; partnerships are not usually of equals, and the position of “community representatives” on the boards of partnerships is intrinsically problematic. However, local area partnerships need them: to make “decisions”, to test the likely reception of new ideas, to help sell what is going on. It is likely to prove a serious problem for some PFI/PPP partnerships which are contractually bound for 25 or 30 years; but one may surmise that in many cases partners will fall out and it will be difficult then to deliver the promises that have been made.


Partnerships vary, and hence generalisation is difficult. But some important points from the discussion can add to the ongoing dialogue about the nature of partnerships in regeneration.



Coulson, A. (2005), "A plague on all your partnerships: theory and practice in regeneration", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 151-163.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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