The paper looks at the effort to transform partnership from a loose metaphor into a binding concept. Partnerships are today articulated as the solution to various cooperation difficulties across sectoral boundaries. They are seen as equivalent to community, long-term cooperation, dialogue, synergy and mutual differences. Contracts, on the other hand, are seen as equal to opportunistic agreements, short-term calculation and bargaining. In this paper, the partnerships are instead observed as a new form of contractualization: they are designed to maintain the plasticity of the promise. Four main themes emerge: partnerships represent a functional equivalent to contracts in hypercomplex society; they represent second-order contracts (a promise about a promise); partnerships constitute a doubling of time, factuality and subjectivity; partnerships are machine of possibility, a strange form of order constantly in the making.
Keywords: Partnership; Contract; Promise; Machine of Possibility; Systems Theory.