Coalition Building Discussion

The importance of building coalitions of groups working towards common goals is frequently recognised, but coalition-building is a fundamentally endogenous process and it is far from clear how external participants can help.  The literature discusses how coalitions work to support reform and change, but there is very little knowledge about how to build them.

Most coalitions in the development literature are characterised as ‘reform’ coalitions – groups of actors which have come together to push a reform agenda, usually but not always in areas of governance and accountability in government and public sector. General messages from the literature point towards the need for flexible, long-term support from donors, and incremental change engineered through a gradual process of gathering public and wide-ranging support. Broad alliances drawing together disparate stakeholders are the lynchpin of successful coalitions pushing a reform agenda, and this also suggests that shifting public opinion is of key importance. This bottom-up, public-facing approach, which focuses on issues, informal networks and relationships is considered to be more effective than large-scale, top-down or quick reform. Some difficulties with coalitions include that they are not necessarily responsive to external actors, and that they are prone to collusion and rent-seeking.

  • What do we know about how to encourage and build coalitions?
  • Can you suggest any examples of success stories in coalition-building?
  • How do coalitions work most effectively?
  • How can risks of rent-seeking and collusion be minimised?

Please share your thoughts on the discussion paper and leave your comments below!

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