Dealing with Paradox – Stories and Lessons from the first three years of Consortium-building

This case study documents and reflects upon the building of the Consortium of British Humanitarian Agencies (recently re-named START Network) which comprises 18 lead agencies working in the humanitarian sector who have evolved a collaborative way of working that both designs and delivers interventions and seeks to challenge and change the way the sector works for the better. 

Tiina Pasanen's pictureThis resource and the following information was contributed to BetterEvaluation by Tiina PasanenOverseas Development Institute (ODI).

Authors and their affiliation

Ros Tennyson – author. Development Director, Partnership Brokers Association. Emily Wood – research & design. Manager, Partnership Brokers Association.

Year of publication


Type of resource


Key features

The Partnership Brokers Association website introduces this document with the following:

"To address increasingly complex needs and solve pressing challenges for which single agency solutions seem largely inadequate, new forms of multi-stakeholder collaboration are emerging across the globe.  Do they live up to expectations? Are the inevitable transaction costs involved in managing diverse (and sometimes divergent) interests worth it? Does such collaboration lead to bold steps forward or to settling for the lowest common denominator?"

This case study explores these questions through examining the creation and development of the Consortium of British Humanitarian Agencies (recently re-named START Network).

Who is this resource useful for?

  • Evaluators
  • Commissioners/Managers of evaluation
  • Other (those designing or implementing MSPs)

How have you used or intend on using this resource?

This resource can be used to learn from or to highlight the lessons that this particular partnership has gone through.

Why would you recommend it to other people?

The Partnership Brokers Association has documented and reflected on the journey a consortium building. Though it focuses only on one particular partnership, many of the issues and challenges raised echo well with anyone working in partnerships.


Tennyson, R. (2013). Dealing with Paradox – Stories and Lessons from the first three years of Consortium-building. The Partnership Brokers Association. Retrieved from:

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Resource Suggested By
Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute.
United Kingdom.


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