Multi-Akteurs-Partnerschaften What is an MSP?

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What is an MSP?

A multi-stakeholder partnership is a type of cooperation with the following four features

In a multi-stakeholder partnership, partners from at least three of the following sectors are involved: the public sector, civil society, the private sector and academia.

Partners have knowledge and experience that can help the others further their work. In a partnership, they can share their knowledge, resources, technologies, networks and much more. Partners can thereby achieve their common goal, while also individually benefiting from the collaboration.

All partners are involved on an equal footing in the multi-stakeholder partnership’s work. This covers a broad spectrum of types of participation, from mere consultation to joint decision-making, thereby allowing each group to contribute its positions and viewpoints to the partnership’s goals and results.

Multi-stakeholder partnerships go beyond ad hoc consultations or brief, sporadic dialogues. Long-term engagement and a certain degree of institutionalization and independence are required to tackle the complex challenges that a multi-stakeholder partnership is seeking to address.

Multi-stakeholder partnerships aim to solve complex social challenges such as climate change, poverty or migration. Working together to overcome these challenges is necessary, as they affect society as a whole and exceed the ability of any individual actor to solve on their own. This is why multi-stakeholder partnerships are important for achieving sustainable development.


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Multi-stakeholder partnerships also make important contributions in the context of the Supply Chain Act in Germany. The website of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs provides information on this subject.

What distinguishes an MSP from other types of cooperation?

From networks to multi-stakeholder partnerships: Forms of partnership cooperation

Depending on the intensity of involvement of different actors and the formalization of partnership structures, different types of partnerships can be distinguished and located along a spectrum. There are different names for the categories used and the transitions are fluid.


  • There are a number of informal relationships among and between people and organizations. These relationships are open and enable the formation of communities that create and share knowledge.
  • Actors share similar interests or concerns and interact with each other, keeping in informal contact to support each other.
  • Example: Inclusive Business Action Network

Round table

  • A loose structure exists where stakeholders can report on their activities, share experiences and learn from each other.
  • It is often used to develop recommendations for action for specific groups of actors.
  • Example: Branchendialog Tourismus (only in german)

Multi-stakeholder initiative

  • Partners align their strategies and activities to jointly create value around a specific issue or common goals.
  • It often has a governance structure with a steering committee and a secretariat.
  • It may be designed as an initiative from the beginning, or it may evolve from networks or roundtables as stakeholders see the need to further formalize their collaboration.
  • Example: Access to Insurance Initiative

Multi-stakeholder partnership

  • It comes about with the participation of at least three of the sectors of business, civil society, academia, and government.
  • It has shared goals, decision-making, planning, and activities among members.
  • It aims to create shared value and transformative change at the societal level.
  • It has a governance structure, e.g., steering committee and secretariat.
  • Goals, stakeholder contributions, and responsibilities are usually defined in a memorandum of understanding.
  • Example: Alliance for Integrity 



Round table

Multi-stakeholder initiative

Multi-stakeholder partnership

MSP Success Factors
What do MSPs need to be successful? Find out what the key elements of a good partnership are to get your partnership on the right track

What do we already know about MSPs? Take a look at MSP studies and manuals: