The central question of this paper is how to understand and characterize the parallel development of global private partnerships and other partnerships at the global level or national level, that all aim to promote sustainability of a global commodity. The aim of this paper is to contribute to the discussion on the role and use of global private partnerships in coping with sustainability as a wicked problem. For this purpose we have constructed and used a theoretical framework on complex decision-making processes with a grounded theory that explains diversity of private governance networks in terms of rivalry and exclusion. Focusing on five partnerships that promote sustainable production of soy in Brazil, the paper concludes that their development is highly interdependent and dialectical. One of the five partnerships is the Round Table on Responsible Soy. Both the start and development of this global private partnership have not ended but fuelled rivalry between different partnerships, herewith reproducing the wickedness of governance of sustainable production of soy. Managing sustainability as a wicked problem requires an understanding of the dialectical development of partnerships. Instead of embracing one partnership as the best or the benchmark, it may be wiser for policymakers to invest in managing interactions and articulating relationships between different partnerships at the global and national level.


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