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The Formation of Cross-Sector Development Partnerships: The Role of Bridging Agents and Project Network Alliances

41 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2013  

Stephan Manning

University of Massachusetts Boston

Daniel Roessler

Austrian Development Agency (ADA)

Date Written: March 1, 2013


Cross-sector development partnerships (CSDPs) are project-based collaborative arrangements between business, government, and civil society organizations in support of international development goals such as sustainability, health education, and economic development. Based on the case of public private partnerships in development cooperation, we examine the important role of bridging agents in managing the institutional complexity around the formation of CSDP projects and longer-term project network alliances. We analyze bridging agency as a collective process involving both internal partner representatives and external intermediaries in initiating and/or supporting roles. We find that external intermediaries ease the formation of singular projects and longer-term alliances. However, projects that are initiated by intermediaries tend to be narrow and repetitive in scope, whereas projects initiated by internal partner representatives tend to explore novel project agendas. Yet, the longer-term pursuit of these agendas beyond singular projects may require external intermediaries in supporting roles. Findings help better understand micro-processes and collective practices of brokerage and alliance formation in transnational governance contexts and beyond.

Keywords: Intermediation, brokerage, project collaboration, public private partnership, multi-stakeholder process, transnational governance, international development, institutional logics, relational practices

JEL Classification: F13, F16, F18, F53, F55, F59, L15, L32, O13, O19, P45, P48, Q11, Q17, Q28, Q56

Suggested Citation

Manning, Stephan and Roessler, Daniel, The Formation of Cross-Sector Development Partnerships: The Role of Bridging Agents and Project Network Alliances (March 1, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Stephan Manning (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts Boston ( email )

100 Morrissey Blvd
Boston, MA 02125
United States

Daniel Roessler

Austrian Development Agency (ADA) ( email )

Zelinkagasse 2,
Vienna, 1010

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