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Strategic Portfolio Management in German Development Cooperation – a Meta-Perspective

The study is a major element in the DEval processes for supporting the BMZ’s evidence-based, strategic portfolio management. The objective is the provision of overarching findings on the challenges presented in the management and structuring of German bilateral development cooperation in the partner countries against a background of complex requirements.

German bilateral development cooperation is structured along the lines of the BMZ’s subordinate specifications, priorities and scope for action in terms of development policy. In collaboration with the partner countries, the BMZ faces the challenge of reconciling the cooperation interests of those involved and orienting and managing the country portfolios strategically in line with the agreed goals so that the relevance and effectiveness of the engagement is ensured.

The object of the study is strategic portfolio management by the BMZ. Firstly, an analysis looks at the extent to which the country portfolios are successfully aligned with the overarching priorities and requirements and which factors facilitate or impede the BMZ’s strategic management. Secondly, the BMZ’s strategic planning and management requirements and processes are explained. The findings from the execution of Country Portfolio Reviews (CPR) form the basis for the analysis. Also examined is the extent to which the findings from CPR are used for country-specific strategy processes and the structuring of the country portfolios to generate conclusions with regard to the usability of CPR for strategic portfolio management.


Between September 2017 and December 2018, in order to strengthen the BMZ’s strategic management, DEval developed an instrument for the execution of Country Portfolio Reviews (CPR) in close coordination with the BMZ. Between January 2020 and December 2022, the project “Country Portfolio Reviews in the Context of the Agenda 2030” was also carried out for the implementation of CPR in BMZ partner countries. The objective of the project was to provide evidence for the strategy processes in the BMZ’s regional divisions and generate findings to improve the development cooperation system at the cross-country level. Since the country portfolios for bilateral development cooperation are structured against a background of strategic management requirements and the scope for action of the German development cooperation system, cross-country analysis of the CPR carried out could allow structural challenges and potential for German bilateral development cooperation to be identified across individual countries. For this reason, the CPR project application already foresaw the performance of a meta-analysis as an independent undertaking within the context of the 2022-2024 DEval Multi-Year Evaluation Programme (MEP).


The study is a major element in the DEval processes for supporting the BMZ’s evidence-based, strategic portfolio management. The objective is the provision of findings on strategic management and structuring of BMZ-financed official development cooperation at the country profile level. This includes information on the conception and practical implementation of the management requirements as well as on the alignment of the country portfolios with the strategic standards and priorities of the BMZ. The findings from the execution of Country Portfolio Reviews serve as the basis for the analysis. The focus is on identifying structural challenges and potentials that substantially determine the management and design of the country portfolios. The usability of the information provided by the CPR for political management is also analysed. The findings will serve the BMZ as a basis for critical reflection and the further development of internal management guidelines and processes.


The analysis is carried out on the basis of a systematic assessment of synthesis of experiences and results from the execution of country portfolio reviews. This is supplemented by further methods of data collection and analysis, such as the analysis of secondary data and documents, interviews and an online survey of BMZ staff.


Portrait von Kirsten Vorwerk
© DEval

Kirsten Vorwerk

Senior-Evaluator - Team Leader

Phone: +49 (0)228 336907-971


Portrait von Dr. Stefan Leiderer
© DEval

Dr Stefan Leiderer

Head of Department: State Fragility, Conflict Prevention and Governance

Phone: +49 (0)228 336907-940


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