‘Twinning’ typically entails a form of formalised partnership between similar institutions in the North and South for an indefinite period (Jensen, 2007; Baud et al., 2010), with the aim of strengthening the capacity of partners in developing countries (Jones and Blunt, 1999; Ouchi, 2004). Institutional twinning inherently implies that the primary focus of the capacity development initiative is at the organisational level (above individuals), providing a possible strategic entry point for sector strengthening. This does not mean that there will be no work at the individual level, but that any such work will be part of a wider range of inputs and interventions (J.P. expert comments). Thus, donor agencies and other organisations may adopt a different mix of twinning activities, including: short- or long-term placement of experts, study tours and missions, systems development, advisory services, training events and workshops (Ouchi, 2004). More extensive cooperation also occurs, based on reciprocal relationships between entities, such as municipalities, aimed at forming broad development partnerships (Grupstra and van Eerdt, 2017).
This rapid review highlights findings on developed country-developing country (or North-South) twinnings/institutional partnerships between civil service organisations in the following three areas:
- Achieving sustainable capacity development outcomes and contribution to broader sectoral objectives.
- Building institutional relationships to strengthen the bilateral partnership to benefit both country’s national interest.
- Enhancing people-to-people links to develop closer ties, collaboration and influence.