Towards effective and sustainable global academic partnerships through a maturity model informed by the capability approach

Fekadu, Abebaw; Assefa, Esubalew; Tesfaye, Abraham; Hanlon, Charlotte; Adefris, Belete; Manyazewal, Tsegahun; Newport, Melanie J. and Davey, Gail (2021). Towards effective and sustainable global academic partnerships through a maturity model informed by the capability approach. Globalization and Health, 17(1), article no. 131.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-021-00785-2

Abstract

Background
Shortage of skilled workforce is a global concern but represents a critical bottleneck to Africa’s development. While global academic partnerships have the potential to help tackle this development bottleneck, they are criticised for inadequate attention to equity, impact, and sustainability. We propose a new values-driven partnership model for sustainable and equitable global partnerships that achieve impact.

Method
The model was based on the authors’ experiences of participation in over 30 partnerships and used insights from the Capability Approach.

Results
We developed an Academic Partnership Maturity Model, with five levels of maturity, extending from pre-contemplative to mature partnerships. The level of maturity increases depending on the level of freedom, equity, diversity, and agency afforded to the partners. The approach offers a framework for establishing a forward-looking partnership anchored in mutual learning, empowerment, and autonomy.

Conclusion
This is a pragmatic model limited by the biases of experiential knowledge. Further development of the concept, including metrics and an evaluation tool kit are needed to assist partners and funders.

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