The MSP Guide: How to Design and Facilitate Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships

The guide links the underlying rationale for multi-stakeholder partnerships, with a clear four phase process model, a set of seven core principles, key ideas for facilitation and 60 participatory tools for analysis, planning and decision making. The guide has been written for those directly involved in MSPs - as a stakeholder, leader, facilitator or funder - to provide both the conceptual foundations and practical tools that underpin successful partnerships. 

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

Authors and their affiliation

Herman Brouwer and Jim Woodhill with Minu Hemmati, Karèn Verhoosel and Simone van Vugt, Wageningen UR's Centre for Development Innovation

Year of publication


Type of resource


Key features

This guide provides a practical framework for the design and facilitation of these collaborative processes that work across the boundaries of business, government, civil society and science.

It includes the following sections:

  • The Rationale for using MSPs to tackle complex sustainability challenges
  • 4 Phases that guide the design of MSP processes 7 Principles to follow that help make MSPs successful
  • Key Ideas for effective facilitation of MSPs
  • 60 participatory tools that enable people to work together constructively and creatively

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?

The chapter on Reflective monitoring provides both a rationale for embedding monitoring practices into a MSP from the start, as well as some specific questions that can be used to guide the reflective monitoring practice:

  • Has a learning culture and environment been created?
  • Have success criteria been defined?
  • Have monitoring mechanisms been developed and implemented? 
  • Has progress been reviewed and evaluated and lessons identified?
  • Have the lessons learned been fed back into the strategy and implementation procedures?

Why would you recommend it to other people?

This guide is clearly written and goes though the rationale of multi-stakeholder partnerships, what they are, how to design them, what makes them effective and how to move on from design to practice. It is available for free download.


  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships
    • What Are Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships?
    • Characteristics Of An MSP
    • Different MSPS For Different Purposes
    • Who Is Involved In An MSP?
    • Designing And Facilitating An MSP Process
    • When Is An MSP The Right Choice?
  • 3 Designing The Process 26 Process Matters
    • The Process Model
    • Phase 1: Initiating
    • Phase 2: Adaptive Planning
    • Phase 3: Collaborative Action
    • Phase 4: Reflective Monitoring
    • Process Design In Practice
  • 4 Seven Principles That Make MSPS Effective
    • Principle 1: Embrace Systemic Change
    • Principle 2: Transform Institutions
    • Principle 3: Work With Power
    • Principle 4: Deal With Conflict
    • Principle 5: Communicate Effectively
    • Principle 6: Promote Collaborative Leadership
    • Principle 7: Foster Participatory Learning
  • 5 From Design To Practice
    • Facilitation
    • The Human Dimension
    • Getting Organised
  • 6 Choosing Tools
    • Tools For Connection
    • Tools For Shared Language
    • Tools For Divergence
    • Tools For Co-Creation
    • Tools For Convergence
    • Tools For Commitment
  • 7 MSPS In Action
    • A Civil Society Perspective
    • A Business Platform Perspective
    • A Public Sector Perspective
    • A Producer Organisation’s Perspective
    • A Science Perspective
  • 8 Additional Resources
  • Notes
  • References 


Brouwer, H. and J. Woodhill, with M. Hemmati, S. van der Vugt, and K. Verhoosel (2015). The MSP Guide: How to Design and Facilitate Multi-stakeholder Partnerships. Centre for Development Innovation, Wageningen University, The Netherlands – Retrieved from: