2017 Organisation and Management of Aid Other

Results and Ownership in Swedish Development Cooperation

Therese Brolin

The increased focus on results within international development cooperation is a consequence of the assumption that development cooperation must be more effective and efficient. However, these approaches present diverging and sometimes contradictory strategies to increase effectiveness and efficiency within international development cooperation, with different implications for the relations between donor and partner countries. This study investigates how different actors frame the results agenda and partner country ownership and contributes to an increased understanding of the dynamics and relations within international development cooperation.

The report was presented during the seminar Ägarskap och snabba resultat – målkonflikter och framtidsutsikter.

Main findings

  • Development partners have a significant share of responsibilities but limited mandate. This imbalance has a negative impact on partner country ownership.
  • The instrumentalisation of development cooperation has changed the focus of development cooperation: evidence of results, regardless of their relevance, has been given priority over improvements in the lives of poor men and women.
  • Instead of functioning as a means to achieve an objective, the results agenda has become an objective in itself. Decision makers have lost track of the overall objective.
  • Donors’ development objectives, and the results achieved in relation to these objectives, have come to play a more prominent role. Solidarity with people in the global South seems to have become a weaker motivation in the pursuit of international development cooperation.
  • Partner country ownership departs from the assumption that only those affected by poverty or development can actually tell what development entails for them and how it could be achieved. Development cannot be accomplished if development partners are not allowed to define objectives and set the agenda for the pursuit of development and the reporting of results.

Therese Brolin defended her PhD thesis Ownership or Donorship? Results and ownership in Swedish international development cooperation in Human Geography at the University of Gothenburg in September 2017. Prior to her doctoral studies Therese worked as an evaluator at the Swedish Agency for Development Agency (SADEV).