Business as Usual? Understanding the Legitimation of Two Public-­‐Private Partnerships for Agricultural Value Chain Development in Tanzania

Christina Ramberg Ek

Student thesis: Master thesis


Although legitimacy is recognized as a critical condition for the stability and effectiveness of transnational public-private partnerships (PPPs), surprisingly few studies have investigated how they come to be perceived as legitimate. This paper aims to address this research gap by analyzing two PPPs for agricultural value chain development in Tanzania: the Tanzania Agricultural Partnership (TAP) and the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT). By twinning commercial and development goals, the partnerships aim to significantly improve agricultural production and reduce poverty. However, to achieve their goals, they would have to become accepted as a legitimate alternative to government policy in a context characterized by low levels of social trust, general mistrust of the private sector, and a strong historical bias towards socialist agricultural policies. This paper empirically analyzes the process through which the partnerships were constructed as legitimate governance mechanisms for sustainable, agricultural development in Tanzania. It combines insights from sociological analyses of organizational legitimacy with a constructivist perspective to argue that legitimacy arise from a process of legitimation. Moreover, this paper contends that it is possible to legitimate a PPP through legitimation strategies. To better understand this dynamic and strategic process, this paper deductively develops a conceptual overview of legitimation strategies, which is integrated into an analytical model of legitimation processes in transnational PPPs. Applying this model to the case, the paper finds that the TAP and the SAGCOT partnerships were legitimated in the interaction between norms and the strategies pursued by the ‘PPP entrepreneurs’ and the PPP itself. Through discourse, stakeholder management, and institutionalization, these actors were able to strategically construct the two partnerships as legitimate. However, the paper also shows that strategies did not always have the intended legitimating effect across geographical levels and stakeholder groups. It also finds that some legitimation strategies in turn opened the PPP up to pressures that sought to transform the PPP or its objectives.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages102