Betwixt & Between

Issue #3

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Issue #6, Issue #5, Issue #4, Issue #3, Issue #2, Issue #1


Welcome to the third issue of the Journal of Partnership Brokering ‘Betwixt and Between’!

The content in this Issue reflects the expectations we have of partnership brokers as managers of the partnering process in a wide range of contexts and cultures – how their interventions, skills and insights can contribute to the success of a partnership as well as to the development of the broader brokering movement. It also explores new mechanisms in partnership brokering.

In their case study, Ian Dixon, Mark Nodea and Jacob Workman explore how a combination of external and internal brokering is working to facilitate an innovative two-way learning partnership between an important remote Indigenous art centre and a leading University in Australia. In 2011, the Gija Community in North Western Australia and the Centre for Cultural Arts Conservation within the University of Melbourne began a relationship, initially to restore art works damaged by major flooding. As the relationship progressed and the protagonists sought expansion of the partnership for greater impact, they engaged an external broker to work with the internal brokering unit to progress its aims. The article is a very informative and engaging description of how that worked.

In another story from the front line, Ioana Crihana draws on her experience of a mutli-stakeholder partnership in Romania to offer her observations on what it takes to build long term partnerships. As a broker and as the head of an organisation which facilitates partnerships across the country, she views sustainability as a necessity for ensuring substantive outcomes. Her core proposition is that partnerships, like many other human relationships, depend as much on the attributes, characteristics and accomplishments of the partners as they do on the processes and people (partnership process managers / brokers) which bring them together and encourage them to commit to a stable and productive partnership.

Implicit in this facilitative role of the broker is that he / she has the professional confidence and requisite skills and experience, underpinned by an understanding of professional partnership process management, concepts and tools. Not surprisingly, there is increasing investment from both individuals and institutions in building their skills and capacity through action learning and professional training. The Partnership Brokers Association (PBA) is the only entity running a unique international professional training programme for brokers, promoting partnership brokering and supporting a sizeable community of partnership brokers worldwide. Drawing on PBA’s training model, World Vision International (WV) has developed an equally unique internal training programme aimed at embedding partnership brokering within its organisation and supporting the adoption of its local community level approach. In their paper, Ian de Villiers and Ros Tennyson explore the characteristics of the PBA and WV training initiatives and the issues and opportunities they face in extending the reach and impact of partnership brokering.

The commitment – individual and collective – to building brokering competencies is further addressed in the articles exploring the roles of brokers as leaders and as navigators of complexity and ownership. Based on his own experience as a partnership broker, Earl Miller looks at servant leadership and situational leadership in the context of partnership brokering. He argues that leadership needs to be a critical focus for partnership brokers as they work to gain insight and inspiration about effective ways to increase their contribution. Just as they may adopt a number of different duties in the fulfillment of their role, brokers may have to express different attributes of directive and non-directive leadership.

Brad Henderson believes that partnership brokers play a key role in navigating complex problems in partnerships. However, given the interwoven webs of relationships and interactions and multiple narratives within a partnership, they may find it difficult to ‘see’ what is actually happening. In his paper, he explores the notion of complexity in partnering and proposes ways for brokers to improve their complexity ‘eyesight’ and to equip themselves with appropriate complexity-busting tools and strategies.

Most partnership brokers will agree that they cannot – and should not – do everything, taking on more and more roles and responsibilities. Apart from exhaustion, it will create dependencies and make it hard to let go when the time is right. The question of who owns the partnership is relevant here. Partnership brokers often question to what extent the partners, and hence the success of the partnership, depends on them. Based on her own experience as a partnership broker for a consortium of nineteen NGOs, Marieke Hounjet explores the role of partnership brokers in building a sense of ownership in her paper. She makes a case for why ‘ownership’ deserves more attention; and explores some practical implications for partnership brokers.

Since 2003, when the Partnership Brokers Accreditation Scheme (PBAS) was launched[1], the partnership brokering movement has been focused on individuals performing a new kind of professional role. Now, we are seeing the emergence of partnership brokering units and organisations set up with a specific remit for facilitating collaboration. In her paper, Ros Tennyson explores these as a new kind of delivery mechanism, describing their characteristics, roles they fulfil and their way of operating. She cites three comparable but contrasting examples of entities from India, Poland and the UK, operating in different contexts and established with different intentions.

In editing three issues of the Journal, I am struck by the thought that here is growing evidence of how partnership brokers are bringing maturity to the theory and practice of brokering partnerships. They are not only making  a significant difference to the effectiveness and impact of partnerships but also role modelling a new form of leadership that will be central to helping individuals, organisations and nations address the challenges society faces going forwards.

However, I am also reminded by some of the conversations with my peers, including those with the authors, that we need to continue to gather evidence which contributes to the understanding and recognition of the role and value of partnership brokers. This is necessary if, as a partnership brokering community, we are to influence leaders, planners, donors, policy makers and practitioners from all sectors.

We have a large international partnership brokers’ community and network. PBA alone has assembled a critical resource of practicing brokers: more than 1,300 individuals from all sectors and from a wide range of contexts and cultures have now completed its Level 1 brokering skills training course, with over 280 having gone on to become accredited partnership brokers.

There is, therefore, an opportunity to gather more evidence of the impact of brokering on effective partnerships. Action enquiry can show in what ways and in what circumstances brokering makes a difference and maximises the impact of partnerships and the value of investment (financial, technological and human). It can highlight how partnership brokers are role modelling new forms of ‘facilitative leadership’ and in what ways this type of leadership can influence and impact organisations, decision-making processes and strategies to mitigate challenges more effectively and appropriately. Ultimately, we could argue that the aim of the global brokering community is to show the economic value of brokering and the ‘intangible wealth’ it creates by making a significant contribution to the development of social infrastructures.

If you see this as an invitation to contribute to the Journal, you are not mistaken.

The Journal falls under the remit of the PBA’s Learning Community of Practice and is a mechanism for sharing evidence and insights from within and beyond the organisation’s growing alumni of partnership brokers. It is a public platform that brings together thought leadership, original thinking, insights and breakthrough practice in partnership brokering from across cultures, sectors and geographies. Although the Journal’s content is sourced primarily from those operating as partnership brokers, we also welcome contributions from individuals working in any sector and location, who have instigated or provided resources for partnership; or been involved with partnerships that have led to system change or new policies; or just have a strong personal perspective on partnership brokering and its place in equitable and sustainable development.  We look forward to receiving your contribution.



S.HundalAfter a career in the corporate sector, Surinder Hundal is now working specifically in the field of cross-sector partnerships, partnership brokering and partnership evaluation. She works as an independent accredited partnership broke and as a specialist in corporate social responsibility. She sits on the Board of the Partnership Brokers Association (PBA), the international professional association for partnership brokers. She holds a post-graduate certificate in Cross-sector Partnerships from the University of Cambridge.  Surinder has worked in Asia Pacific, Europe, the USA, the Middle East and Africa, principally in telecommunications businesses such as Nokia and BT, where she led multi-faceted communications, strategy, marketing, corporate responsibility and partnership development roles.  She also led policy and communications at International Business Leaders Forum. Surinder can be reached on

[1] PBAS was initiated by Michael Warner at ODI (Overseas Development Unit and Ros Tennyson IBLF (Internal Business Leaders Forum – to ‘promote professionalism and integrity in cross-sector partnering’. It built on the partnering work of both individuals and on the partnership track record of the two organisations.

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