This paper explores the black box of value chain partnerships, by showing how these partnerships can facilitate institutional change that is needed to include smallholder producers and small-and medium sized enterprises into (global) food value chains. It draws on agricultural value chain literature, collaboration literature, and institutional theory to gain insight into the relationship between the partnerships’ inner dynamics on the one hand, and the institutional changes the partnership facilitates in key areas of the business environment on the other. The study comprises a multiple case study of four multi-stakeholder value chain partnerships in honey, dairy, oilseeds and pineapple in Ethiopia. Sources of evidence include program documents, minutes of 66 meetings, and in-depth interviews with 67 key stakeholders. The study identifies four key conditions for fruitful collaboration: trust building, societal embeddedness, strong private sector leadership, and stakeholder involvement. Especially the latter condition proved to be important. Existing institutional structures and vested interests defended by individual stakeholders that remain outside the partnership may significantly hinder the institutional change advanced by value chain partnerships.

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The Partnerships Resource Centre (PrC) , PrC Working Paper Series
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

Drost, S., van Wijk, J., & Mandefro, F. (2012). Key conditions for successful value chain partnerships (No. 033). PrC Working Paper Series. Retrieved from