A Document Reference Library and Evidence Database on Public Private Dialogue Systems and Approaches is now available for DFID Country Offices and business environment reform development partners, thanks to recent research produced by BERF’s Evidence and Learning team. DFID Zimbabwe requested assistance to identify Public Private Dialogue evidence sources most relevant to business environment reform and investment climate in Sub-Saharan Africa, including in fragile states.

There is lots of literature on various forms of Public Private Dialogue. BERF’s research indicated contexts in which different types of Public Private Dialogue are most effective; identified lessons learnt in setting up Public Private Dialogue platforms; and gave examples of methodologies to monitor and evaluate Public Private Dialogues.   The report presents evidence and sources to illustrate the Public Private Dialogue systems and approaches that are more conducive to Business Environment Reform and investment climate in Sub Saharan Africa, and identifies key challenges encountered.

There is no definitive answer on what works in Public Private Dialogue.  The Evidence and Learning Team was however able to summarise success factors.   The report concludes that there are some general conditions that characterise the most successful programmes. These include:


  • Buy-in from the government
  • Building trust between the different stakeholders involved in the dialogue
  • Champions from both the public and the private sector
  • Independence of the working groups
  • Political economy of policy making


  • Clear objectives
  • Decentralised approach
  • Capacity building of representative organisations and government officials

Effective Implementation

  • Promotion of regular, ongoing public-private dialogue
  • Partnership management
  • Clear and ongoing communication strategy


  • Ensuring the right people are involved in the dialogue
  • Working with grassroots organisations

Key challenges encountered in the implementation of Public Private Dialogue programmes in Sub Saharan Africa include:

  • Coordination and consistency
  • Sustainability
  • Strategic guidance
  • Rigorous situational analysis and evidence collection
  • Monitoring and evaluation systems
  • Pace and length of the reform process

The approach to building the Public Private Dialogue document reference library and evidence map was informed by the 3ie evidence map work of Snilstveit et al. (2013)[1] and by the approach outlined in the ‘DFID (2014) How to Note – Assessing the Strength of Evidence[2] . The approach  was modified to address the particular needs of DFID Zimbabwe, and to  provide a broad overview of the evidence base, to meet the needs of  other DFID Country Offices,  development partner agencies and Business Environment Reform practitioners.

We aim to have the Public Private Dialogue Evidence Database easily accessible to DFID Country Offices and other interested partners through an evidence gap map tool. In the interim, the BERF Public Private Dialogue evidence database file is available on request.


See Report Here

[1] Snilsveit, B., Vojtkova, M., Bhavsar, A., and Gaarder, M. (2013) Evidence Gap Maps: A tool for Promoting Evidence-Informed Policy and Prioritizing Future Research, Research Policy Working Paper No.  6725, World Bank, Independent Evaluation Group.

[2] DFID, (2014) How to Note: Assessing the Strength of Evidence, Department for International Development.