Joint Venture vs. Partnership Agreements: Understanding Some Key Differences
Joint Venture vs. Partnership Agreements: Understanding Some Key Differences
January 13, 2024

By: Katelyn J. Dougherty, Esq.

When discussing business collaborations, it’s essential to understand the differences between a Joint Venture Agreement and a Partnership Agreement. Both are forms of business arrangements, but they serve different purposes and have distinct legal implications. This blog post will explore some of these differences.

What is a Joint Venture Agreement?

A Joint Venture (JV) is a cooperative arrangement between two or more business entities, often formed for a specific project or a particular time frame. The primary features of a Joint Venture Agreement include:

  • Purpose and Duration: JVs are typically project-specific or limited in duration. They are formed to achieve a specific goal, such as developing a new product, entering a market, or combining resources for a project.
  • Shared Resources and Risks: Parties in a JV share resources, risks, and operational costs relative to their contributions.
  • Independence of Parties: Each entity in a JV maintains its legal status and operates independently outside the JV’s scope.
  • Control and Management: Management responsibilities and control mechanisms are defined in the JV agreement, which can vary significantly depending on the project’s nature and the parties involved.

What is a Partnership Agreement?

A Partnership Agreement, on the other hand, refers to a long-term relationship where two or more individuals or entities agree to conduct a business together. Key characteristics include:

  • Long-term Commitment: Unlike JVs, partnerships are usually not formed for a single project or a limited duration. They represent a long-term business relationship.
  • Shared Profits, Losses, and Liabilities: Partners share profits, losses, and liabilities of the business. This sharing is typically proportional to their investment or defined in the partnership agreement.
  • Joint Decision Making: Partners usually participate in the management and decision-making processes of the business.
  • Unlimited Liability: Unless the partnership is a limited partnership, all partners typically have unlimited liability, meaning their personal assets could be at risk if the business fails.

Key Differences

  • Purpose and Scope: JVs are often more project-specific or temporary, while partnerships are typically formed for ongoing business operations.
  • Legal Status: In a JV, each party retains its separate legal status, while a partnership usually operates as a single legal entity.
  • Liability: Partners generally have joint and several liabilities, whereas JV parties may limit their liabilities to the extent of their investment in the JV.
  • Profit Sharing: In JVs, profits are typically shared based on the agreement, which might not be equal, while in partnerships, profits and losses are usually shared equally or according to the partnership agreement.


Understanding the differences between a Joint Venture Agreement and a Partnership Agreement is crucial when considering a business collaboration. The choice depends on the nature of the project, the duration of the venture, the level of control and involvement desired, and the risk appetite of the entities involved. Always consult with legal and financial advisors to determine the best structure for your specific business needs and goals.

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This Blog was written by Founding Attorney, Katelyn Dougherty.

DISCLAIMER: This blog is for educational purposes only and does not offer nor substitute legal advice. This blog does not establish an attorney-client relationship and is not for advertising or solicitation purposes. Any of the content contained herein shall not be used to make any decision without first consulting an attorney. The hiring of an attorney is an important decision not to be based on advertisements or blogs. Harbour Business Law expressly disclaims any and all liability in regard to any actions, or lack thereof, based on any contents of this blog.

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