How to Build Effective Partnerships as a Soft Power Tool?

8th August 2019
Author: Evert-jan Quak

This rapid review synthesises the literature from academic, policy, and knowledge institution sources on how partnerships can be effectively used as a soft power tool. Indeed, the review concludes that partnerships have the potential to be part of a soft power toolkit in the post-conditionality era of international cooperation, often used as a form of country branding combined with self-interest. This conclusion is based on the literature on two types of partnerships: north-south peer-to-peer partnerships and north-south public private partnerships. While the evidence base to support peer-to-peer partnerships remains embryonic, some studies and evaluations give insights into their effectiveness and impacts. However, there is far fewer evidence that links the effectiveness of partnerships with soft power outcomes. Most of the literature used in this rapid review comes from evaluation reports and academic articles. They all mention the lack of good monitoring, which makes it difficult to measure real impact of partnerships. Most evidence is anecdotal, leaving a gap for evidence on the effectiveness of partnerships, in particular for institutional change.

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Suggested Citation

Quak, E. (2019). How to build effective partnerships as a soft power tool? K4D Helpdesk Report No 650. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.


8th August 2019


Continent: Global