The international development sector is increasingly implementing collaborative approaches that facilitate a range of sectoral-level stakeholders to jointly address complex problems facing sustainable public service delivery, for which guidance does not explicitly exist. The literature on collaborative approaches has been built on experiences in high-income countries with vastly different governance capabilities, limiting their global relevance.
A Delphi expert panel addressed this need by evaluating 58 factors hypothesized in the literature to contribute to the success of collaborative approaches. In this article, produced with support from the USAID Sustainable WASH Systems Learning Partnership, the panel rated factors according to their importance in low-income country contexts, on a scale from Not Important to Essential. Experts agreed on the importance of 49 factors, eight of which were essential for success. Rich qualitative data from open-ended responses revealed factors that may be unique to low-income country contexts and to service delivery applications, including how government capacity, politics, donor influence, and culture can influence decisions on structuring leadership and facilitation roles, appropriately engaging the government, and building legitimacy.
Key considerations for future practice and research are summarized in a table in the appendix. This study contributes to both literature and practice by identifying the relative importance of factors to consider when designing collaborative approaches in low-income countries with limited governance capabilities.