Although partnerships are emerging as a central feature in governance arrangements in advanced capitalist societies, much discussion has taken place on the value and effectiveness of the approach. In recent years this debate has come to the fore in Northern Ireland, as a plethora of partnerships have been increasingly applied across a wide range of different government programmes at different levels of governance. Using a map of partnership arrangements in Northern Ireland, the author examines three case studies with a view to analysing the value and importance of partnership and assessing the activities that they do best. From this analysis, the author then discusses the future of partnership governance, outlines a number of areas for new research, and presents an agenda for development. As the case studies suggest that too much emphasis has been placed on developing a `process', to the detriment of product outcomes, it is argued that partnerships need to adopt a dual approach to development by combining an inclusive process with greater strategic focus. At the regional level, however, a partnership framework is needed to facilitate coordination, reduce duplication, and improve understanding between partnerships, and between partnerships, local authorities, and government departments. Moreover, by adopting an inclusive approach, a partnership framework has the potential to provide a voice for the socially and politically excluded and to encourage participative planning and pluralist policymaking.