The British partnership phenomenon: a ten year review

This article presents a detailed review of the vast partnership literature which has emerged in the UK between 1998 and 2008. It begins by examining definitions of partnership, and suggests that while academic definitions are vague, practitioner definitions tend to conflate partnership processes with partnership outcomes. An alternative definition based upon processes and practices is offered. This is followed by a review of the conceptual advocates/critics debate, and the key themes of empirical partnership studies. It is proposed that while recent empirical evidence identifies a variety of outcomes and presents various typologies of partnership, there is an absence of debates on typologies in the literature. The article then identifies several limitations of the existing literature including ideological positions, a lack of sensitivity to context and to different types of partnership, and a focus on outcomes. The article concludes by suggesting avenues for future partnership research.