Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED Programme)

Capacity Building for Effective Partnerships – An Active Review in Croatia, January-July 2007


The review was a joint project between the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID). It was implemented by the OECD LEED Trento Centre for Local Development, the USAID Mission to Croatia and USAID’s partner institution World Learning.


Capacity building for effective partnerships

Local partnerships find themselves with a steadily growing number of tasks. To accomplish these tasks effectively, a number of different contextual factors are important: a supportive local community and enabling institutional framework, dedicated partners aware of the costs and benefits of partnerships; and an effective core partnership structure.  Therefore, building capacities for local partnerships requires a threefold approach:

  • Establishing a supportive institutional framework requires building the capacity of local government representatives to participate in and co-ordinate partnership activities, and raising awareness amongst such representatives on the importance of both decentralisation and strong local participatory governance.
  • Training and support is needed for wider participation in partnerships (for example, representatives from civil society and the private sector) to build their capacity to contribute effectively to partnerships and make their voices heard.
  • Strengthening communication structures amongst partners will help to settle conflicts of interest and contribute to maintaining effective management and operational structures within partnerships. Although differences exist between these three different approaches, effective partnerships will only be built when they are undertaken collaboratively.

The project

The project included two phases: (i) a one week visit to selected areas in Croatia, including interviews and round table meetings with local stakeholders, and (ii) a workshop to summarise the findings of the visit and include participants in interactive work. The workshop was important for presenting and exchanging international experiences.

Dates for the one week study visit and the workshop :

  • 23-27 April: a 1-week study visit to the areas of Varazdin and Vukovar by an international review team led by USAID Croatia, the OECD Secretariat, and World Learning.
  • 28-29 May: a 1.5-day workshop to summarise and discuss findings from the study visit, and to involve participants in interactive work on good practices in partnership building. The workshops was important for presenting and exchanging experiences from OECD member countries.

    Download the programme and all the material here

The final report

The report “Building Effective Local Partnerships in Croatia: Organisational Challenges and Strategic Orientations” (available in English and Croatian languages) brings together investigations of local needs, analysis of broader local challenges and practical capacity-building exchanges on international good practices in improving local governance through local partnerships. Key policy recommendations addressed the need for an increased co-ordination and integration between different policy areas at national level concerning local development issues and greater communication and exchange between local partnerships and central government institutions. Clear guidance for the work of partnerships, while maintaining the necessary flexibility, will be a pre-requisite for more effective local action. There should be greater support to joining up of efforts at local level within the framework of a local development strategy and regular opportunities for organisational development and specialised training for the partnership and its partners should be considered. Government counterparts of local partnerships will need to assist them in the establishment of strong performance management, monitoring and evaluation systems.

Download the report here
Also available in Croatian
The conclusive Round Table
Round Table on “Local Governance in Local Development: the Role of Local Development Partnerships” was organised to present key findings and policy recommendations to a wider Croatian and international audience, with the aim to contribute to the on-going debate about the role of local partnerships in local governance and their overall contribution to local development.
The 1.5 day event offered participants opportunities to exchange experiences and to learn from international good practice approaches in developing national support programmes for local partnerships, in increasing the joining-up of local actors, and in establishing effective performance management systems to make the economic and employment development contribution of local development partnerships more transparent and effective.
The Action Space
To widely disseminate recommendations and lessons learned from this USAID-OECD review of local partnerships in Croatia, a web-based “Action Space” has been created, where local partnerships and their counterparts in government, business and civil society can consult OECD recommendations and international learning models. The aim is to inspire policy and practice innovation.
Geographic areas

Varazdin and Vukovar were selected as locations for the one week study visit. The active review included a study conducted through peer review by an international panel comprised of OECD, USAID Croatia, World Learning, local development professionals and academics from OECD countries with strong expertise in local partnerships. The purpose of this review was to help identify the strengths and weaknesses of current approaches, to make recommendations for policy development and to provide learning models to guide the development of locally-tailored approaches. The review process included an assessment of the current contribution of partnerships to the delivery of policies and their role in designing and implementing local strategies. Strengths and weaknesses in the role of the partnerships against the socio-economic and institutional background, and the functions performed by the partnerships were examined. The survey included an assessment of the current contribution of partnerships in the delivery of policies, and their role in designing and implementing local strategies. A set of recommendations was development for further discussion.


Ms. Andrea-Rosalinde HOFER
Policy Analyst
OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Trento Centre for Local Development, Italy
Tel: (39)-0461-277-616
Fax: (39)-0461-277-650

Mr. Arsen JURIC
Rule of Law and Local Government Affairs Specialist
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
U.S. Embassy Zagreb, Croatia
Tel: (385)-1-661-2077
Fax: (385)-1-661-2008




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