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Coordinating cross-sector partnerships for water provision in Malawi

Jean-François Soublière (University of Alberta)
Charlotte Cloutier (HEC Montréal)

Publication date: 24 February 2015


Subject area

Public sector management, stakeholder management, collaboration and strategy.

Study level/applicability

Undergraduate (final-year) or master's-level students (Master in Public Administration, Master in Management). Designed for courses in nonprofit management, public administration and/or international development. Can also be used in any course, such as strategic management, sustainable development or corporate social responsibility, that covers stakeholder theory, or stakeholder management as a topic.

Case overview

Decentralization has changed the way core services are delivered to local populations in sub-Saharan Africa. This in turn has forced nongovernmental organizations, international aid agencies, corporations and other development partners to change the way they engage with government in their shared efforts to help improve the living conditions of people living under the threshold of poverty in this and other parts of the world. This modular ethnographic teaching case uses the specific example of the water sector in Malawi to help highlight the complexity of multiple stakeholder relations in an international development context.

Expected learning outcomes

Upon completion of this case, students should be able to: identify and understand the different goals and issues that individual stakeholders in cross-sector partnerships are dealing with; identify and understand the power/control dynamics at play in these relationships; analyse the advantages and disadvantages associated with different ways of coordinating multi-stakeholder partnerships; and develop recommendations for structuring multi-stakeholder relationships in developing and emerging markets that balance efficient service provision with concern for individual stakeholder priorities.

Supplementary materials

Teaching Notes are available for educators only. Please contact your library to gain login details or email to request teaching notes.



Research for this case was partly supported by a grant from the Fonds québécois de recherche sur la société et la culture (FQRSC).


Soublière, J.-F. and Cloutier, C. (2015), "Coordinating cross-sector partnerships for water provision in Malawi", , Vol. 5 No. 1.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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