This paper aims to consider whether there is significant divergence between the Welsh and English approaches to partnership working.
The analysis reported stems from a research project, commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government in 2002, which examined the extent and effectiveness of three‐sector partnerships. The findings from the Welsh study are contrasted with the findings of a number of studies of the modernisation agenda in English local government.
First there are increasing numbers of partnership programmes which are born and bred in Wales. Second, Wales has unitary local government and so it does not have the complexity of two‐tier structures which frustrate partnership working in the English shires. Third the Welsh polity is a small one with short and close vertical linkages between national and local actors. Fourth, the engagement with the private and voluntary sectors as political stakeholders is a higher political priority in Wales than the involvement of these sectors in service delivery. These differences mean that partnership has a rather different emphasis in Wales.
Although focused on Wales, the article raises greater questions about the purposes of partnership working. More work is needed, however, on the measurement of partnership performance.
The paper raises questions both about the rationale of partnership governance and about the institutional factors likely to influence success.
The paper contributes to the new research area of comparative patterns of UK governance.
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