From market multilateralism to governance by goal setting: SDGs and the changing role of partnerships in a new global order

Paper by Benedicte Bull and Desmond McNeill: “Business has been involved in cooperation with multilateral organizations through public-private partnerships (PPPs) since the late 1990s. With their adoption of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), multilateral institutions increasingly consider partnerships as a means to achieve their goals given their own limited implementation capacity. However, the global economic order has changed significantly since the first expansion of PPPs, particularly due to growing participation by non-western states and companies. This article asks how this shift has changed the eagerness to form partnerships, as well as their qualitative content. It analyzes the 3964 partnerships in the SDG partnership registry, focusing on the subset of them that includes business partners. We divide these into five groups: local implementation, resource mobilization, advocacy, policy, and operational partnerships.

We study PPPs involving companies from different varieties of capitalism—private, market based forms, and state-led forms of capitalism. We find that PPPs are still dominated by companies and other actors from Western countries. Moreover, business participate more in U.S.- and Canadianled partnerships than others. We also find strong differences regarding what category of PPPs that companies from different backgrounds engage in, and discuss the linkages between varieties of capitalism and PPP participation…(More)”.