Moira V. Faul is Executive Director of NORRAG, Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, Geneva.
The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is one of a recent proliferation of pooled financing mechanisms in sustainable development. Despite a policy narrative of inclusive and egalitarian partnering, differences between public, private and voluntary sectors are assumed to affect relations between partners, and the effectiveness of partnerships.
We theorise global financing partnerships as a social ‘space between fields’ that is generated and structured by relationships between the actors mobilised into partnership boards from different fields. We move beyond the conventional focus on sectoral factions to investigate the potential of other aspects of diversity to affect partnership outcomes.
We empirically investigate the structuring of the space of global financing partnerships, comparing the GPE with climate change and health, by analysing a new dataset of 188 board members of ten global financing partnerships. First, network analyses reveal that donors (whether states, international organisations or private sector) are systematically privileged in this partnership space.
Secondly, faultline analytical tools reveal that despite a narrative of additional financing from the private sector, donors are significantly associated with the public sector. Furthermore, donors (public and private sector) are significantly associated with an economic logic of action and non-donors with an issue-specific framing.
Examining the multiple diversities that come into play in partnership board composition and structuring enables an improved theorisation of partnership effectiveness; it also holds important implications for board decisions and the sustainability and educational impacts that these partnerships are purported to deliver.