BOX 4-1Reflecting on Our Own Best Practices: Report-Back from the Second Breakout Session

Workshop participants were asked to think about partnership experiences they have already had and to consider how they determine the acceptability of a specific public–private partnership. Here is a summary of the “metrics of acceptability” identified by the mixed-sector breakout groups. The numbers in parentheses indicate the number of breakout groups (total of six) that identified that particular metric (although not necessarily with the language used here) as being important.

  • Agreement on a common agenda and goal, with return of investment for all partners (5). One breakout group spokesperson said, “We want to make sure that there are some common goals or common approaches to what you want to achieve.” Another breakout group emphasized that recognizing potential areas of disagreement and explicitly agreeing that those areas will not be addressed is an integral part of identifying where commonalities reside and, thus, where productive partnerships can be nurtured.
  • Contributions of partners, with each partner bringing something unique and complementary to the table and with all partners engaged and committed and not just signing on to the cause (5). With respect to unique contributions, one breakout group spokesperson explained, “That doesn’t necessarily mean a tremendous amount of expertise, although obviously you want that, but it could also mean that they bring something else to the table that’s important, be it political power or something else.” Another breakout group identified the importance of a balanced representation between “the usual players” and new players who bring with them the potential for innovation. Yet another group emphasized the importance of maintaining a balanced bias.
  • Compatibility, both individual and institutional (3) (e.g., core values of the partners). With respect to individual compatibility, one breakout group spokesperson said, “We have to be able to get along. We don’t want to fight with each other at the table. If we have any issues with that, we might want to reconsider the relationship.”
  • Scope and extent of the project (3), including its feasibility and achievability.
  • Past partnership history and performance (2) (e.g., proven track record of success, history of credibility).
  • Having clear procedural steps in place (2), including an operation plan or research design in place, metrics for measurement and evaluation, and procedural steps for opting out. With respect to evaluation, one breakout group emphasized the importance of a “built-in evaluation throughout the partnership” because a partnership is a “living entity that develops over time.”
  • Sense of authentic trust among the sectors that allows for adaptation and (anticipated) progress (2). Also, the manager of the partnership, if there is one, must be trusted by all parties.
  • Public trust (1) (i.e., whether the public is going to react negatively to the partnership).
  • Apparent importance of solving the problem (1).
  • The absence of “nonstarters” (1). One breakout group spokesperson explained, “If there is a subject matter or something that just doesn’t align with the agenda of your organization, you might not want to get into that relationship” (e.g., tobacco and public health).
  • Benefits of participation considered against the risks and benefits of nonparticipation (1).

From: 4, What Next?

Cover of Building Public-Private Partnerships in Food and Nutrition
Building Public-Private Partnerships in Food and Nutrition: Workshop Summary.
Institute of Medicine (US).
Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2012.
Copyright © 2012, National Academy of Sciences.

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