A survey by the Society of Information Technology Management also found many councils and private firms cannot understand each other, do not know how to make a partnership succeed, and 'there is little evidence of mutual trust'.
The society looked at councils that had outsourced all or part of their information technology.
Councils that formed partnerships to try to solve problems often 'come to realise that managing a difficult issue at arm's length is significantly more difficult than tackling it directly', the society warned.
'The supplier community is just as tight knit as the public sector,' it said.
The society urged councils to share their experiences of successful partnerships and said that ignoring this advice was 'the most avoidable of errors'.
It also found partnerships rarely managed performance imaginatively. Every contract included penalties for poor performance but only one offered a supplier a bonus for exceeding targets.
'This practice seems a little one-sided for a partnership style of operation,' the society said.