Partnering with the private sector is a key modality in development cooperation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Despite their increasing importance, such Public-Private Partnerships for Development (PPPD) experience major challenges in defining, assessing and reporting on their actual impact. This paper explores why, and how this can be improved. We engage in a qualitative synthesis review of academic, gray literature and evaluation reports of public-private programs of development agencies. We identify challenges, tensions and contradictions that affect a proper understanding and assessment of the impacts of such partnerships. The analysis shows that the main challenge in understanding and assessing impacts is the double governance logic that emerges in PPPD monitoring and evaluation (M&E).WhileM&E functions as an accountability and risk mitigation approach, it should also support collaborative characteristics of PPPDs such as trust and power-sharing, in order to enhance impactful PPPDs. Enhancing the impact of PPPDs for the SDGs requires bridging the divide between (a) result-based, upward accountability monitoring and evaluation approaches and (b) emerging learning, participatory and complexity-based approaches. The paper provides suggestions on how to navigate these governance tensions by using a paradoxical lens.

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Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

Pfisterer, S.M, & van Tulder, R. (2021). Navigating the governance tension to enhance the impact of Public-Private Partnerships for the SDGs. Sustainability, 13(1). doi:10.3390/su13010111