Using Partnership as a Policy Instrument

… a core term used in Implementation and Delivery and Atlas107

Concept description

Leslie Pal (reference below) describes when using partnerships may be the appropriate policy response.

Pal writes (p. 167):

“A new emphasis on partnerships is another development in policy targets and hence, policy instruments. … the basic logic is that government can either get out of some of the things that it has traditionally done and leave them to the private or nonprofit sectors, or it can continue to do those things in partnerships with those sectors. An example is care for the elderly, which is provided primarily by for-profit and nonprofit organizations that receive the bulk of their funding from provincial governments. The first mode suggests an oversight capacity for government once the service has been devolved. The second implies a direct partnership with a community association, industry group, or nongovernmental organization. If partnerships are conceived of as a policy instrument, then they will not simply appear; they will have to be created. Doing this requires some skill, as well as a grasp of the different types of partnering that can be undertaken (e.g., one of consultation versus a roundtable format or working together to implement programs).”

Example – social impact bonds

Pal notes (p. 167) that:

“An interesting and new example of creative partnerships are “social impact bonds” (“Who Succeeds Gets Paid,” 2011). Government social service agencies issue the bonds, which are bought by private investors. The money is then used to support nonprofit agencies and charities in a variety of areas, such as education and law enforcement. Repayment to investors is contingent on performance and success standards for the programs. If services perform well, investors receive a return; if they do not, they simply receive their principal. Thus, three sectors are involved (government, nonprofits, and financial investors), and all have an incentive to encourage performance.”

See also: Pal’s Classification of Policy Instruments.

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.

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

Image:, Partnership for SSC Tier II, at, accessed 3 April 2017.