Kernaghan’s Classification of Partnerships

… a core concept used in Implementation and Delivery and Atlas107

Concept description

Leslie Pal (reference below, p. 253) describes Ken Kernaghan’s (1993, pp. 62-65) classic classification of partnerships:

  1. consultative partnerships: exchanging advice and information
  2. contributory partnerships: money or other forms of support for projects managed by a third party
  3. operational partnerships: sharing work in achieving goals, but the main decisions are still made by one partner, usually government
  4. collaborative partnerships: sharing both work and decisionmaking.

Pal writes (p. 253):

“While it seems puzzling that public officials would willingly relinquish some of their autonomy, there has been a rising interest in collaborative partnerships, both with private sector entities and nonprofit, noncommercial organizations such as those in the social services sector. And partnerships can also involve different government departments, either at the same level or across jurisdictions. …

“Governments want to save money, and partnerships with firms or nonprofit organizations can be a way (possibly) of offloading services. But governments also recognize some of their own limitations in directly delivering services, and so partnerships can be a means of improving service delivery, getting better feedback, and encouraging civic engagement.”

See also: Partnerships and Horizontal Management; Public-Private Partnership Models.

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Implementing through Partners and Networks (core topic) in Implementation and Delivery and Atlas107.


Leslie Pal (2014), Beyond Policy Analysis – Public Issue Management in Turbulent Times, Fifth Edition, Nelson Education, Toronto. See Beyond Policy Analysis – Book Highlights.

Kernaghan, K. (1993, Spring). Partnership and public administration: Conceptual and practical considerations. Canadian Public Administration, 36, 57-76.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 12 April 2017.

Image: AdvantageCS, at, accessed 7 April 2017.