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Keywords:

  • NGOs;
  • partnership

Abstract

In this article I use a case study of the relationship between an international non-government development organisation (NGO) and one of its local partner NGOs to question the desirability of basing NGO partnerships on the principle of subsidiarity. I argue that devolving maximum control to the local NGO in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity would have conflicted with the interests and expectations of both the international NGO and its local partner. As a result, there was occasional but significant contestation between these organisations about what sort of relationship was most compatible with the principle of partnership and what role each party should play within that relationship. I argue that such contestation over what constitutes partnership has the potential to contribute to the realisation of this value-laden term by involving all parties in defining the nature of their relationship. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.