The paper discusses seven cases of cooperative problem solving by people's organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governmental agencies, and international donor and development agencies in six Asian countries (Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines). The paper seeks to identify when and why such cooperations lead to enduring improvements in intractable development problems, and the implications of those findings for national and international development policy-makers.
The analysis suggested that the evolution of cooperation in the cases needs to be understood in the context of seven themes, including: (a) the historical context, (b) framing the problems, (c) conflict and cooperation, (d) power differences, (e) organizing joint work, (f) expanding impacts and levels of aggregation, and (g) cooperation outcomes.
The discussion of these findings suggests some general concepts that may be helpful in assessing other potential cooperations. Three aspects of potential cooperations that were important in these cases were (a) the actors, (b) the phases of cooperation, and (c) the different forms of cooperation that emerged.
On the basis of these cases, the paper identifies seven implications that may be of interest to national and international policymakers concerned with solving development problems. The final section of the paper explores some implications for policymakers interested in promoting future multiparty cooperations of the sort described in the cases. The emphasis here is on implications for national policymakers and for international donors and development agencies. Many other organizations, such as corporations or universities, might be involved in cooperative problem solving in other situations. These cases do not suggest that multiparty cooperation is a panacea, appropriate to all situations and problems.They do suggest that carefully constructed alliances among people's organizations, NGOs, government agencies, international donors, and other stakeholders in some situations may make remarkable contributions to solving otherwise intractable development problems.