In recent years, the partnership concept has not only shaped international development assistance but also the organisation of knowledge production processes in development research. This article looks beyond the rhetoric of the partnership concept by discussing institutional conditions and individual choices of North-South research collaborations in an international development research network. By drawing on ideas of the Sociology of Knowledge and by distinguishing between three lenses on power the article analyses discourses and practices shaping working relations between unequal partners. Research partnerships are not a universal remedy to react to and reduce structural inequalities and hegemonies of epistemologies. Nonetheless, research partnerships offer important opportunities for direct encounters between people and institutions from different scientific traditions and policy contexts. The necessity to negotiate power and social relations in international research partnerships help developing a more respectful and reflexive conduct of knowledge production in contemporary development research.