Examining power struggles as a signifier of successful partnership working: A case study of partnership dynamics

Petra Derkzen, Alex Franklin, Bettina Bock

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


In Britain, and Wales particularly, inclusion and equal opportunities for all became key principles guiding the work of the many partnerships that were established at the beginning of this century. A primary objective of this paper is to develop a greater understanding of the politics and processes within 'partnership' as a widely used governance instrument. We argue that rather than dismissing partnerships for their exclusionary mechanisms, they might be considered as distinctive 'arenas of power' where the emphasis on participation and consensus shapes power relations in particular ways. What we demonstrate, using a differentiated topology of power [Allen, J., 2003. Lost Geographies of Power. Blackwell Publishing], is the effect that different modes of power, at different times, can have on social interaction and the process of partnership working. Although inequality in terms of resources existed in our study, we show that effective partnership working was enhanced at times when more reciprocal modes of power were used. We conclude, therefore, that an analysis of power based on resources alone is limited because the use and effect of resources may be "modified, displaced or disrupted depending upon the relationships that come into play" [Allen, J., 2003. Lost Geographies of Power. Blackwell Publishing, p. 97]. Hence, there is a need for more research on power struggles and conflicts in partnerships over time. Only then it is possible to see how and when differences in resources affect social interaction and result in different levels of (in)equality. A partnership cannot be seen simply as an indirect instrument of a dominant government actor to control organisations and individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-466
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Inequality
  • Partnership
  • Power
  • Rural development
  • Wales

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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