The Politics of Public–Private Partnerships in Western Europe

The Politics of Public–Private Partnerships in Western Europe

Comparative Perspectives

Thomas Krumm

This comprehensive book provides a comparative policy analysis of public-private partnerships in 14 Western European countries from Scandinavia to Greece, bringing together insights from government, economics and politics. Thomas Krumm describes and analyses the forms and extents of collaboration between the state and private sector organisations, focusing on political drivers for a policy change in favour of PPP and the supportive and limiting socioeconomic and institutional conditions. Using comparative data, the author charts key policies and actors involved in supporting collaboration between the state and private business organisations across these countries.

Chapter 2: PPP as a political issue

Thomas Krumm

Subjects: politics and public policy, european politics and policy, public policy


Obviously, public–private collaboration is a multi-disciplinary topic. Scholarly interest in PPP is often focused on the economic and financial aspects of public–private collaboration (e.g. Grimsey/Lewis 2005a, Yescombe 2007), on legal and technical aspects, and also on the politics of PPP in certain countries such as the UK (e.g. Flinders 2005). Furthermore, also in the field of social and political sciences it is regarded as a contested issue; a considerable share of scientists have adopted a sceptical stance towards this policy (Hellowell 2012: 330), often in line with the rejection of the policy by the public sector unions. This rejection is often based on the classification of PPP as a ‘neoliberal’ policy with an empty, non-substantial rhetoric (Wettenhall 2003, Linder 1999). Other authors such as Colin Crouch (2011) stress the innovation of PPP as a blend of neoliberal policies with Keynesian elements such as the stimulation of (additional) demand without letting the public budget run immediately much deeper into debt. This policy of ‘privatized Keynesianism’ as it was labelled by Crouch evolved in the 1990s as a reaction to the flaws of classical Keynesianism (or what politicians made of it). In contrast, neoliberalism was elaborated by economists like Milton Friedman and transferred to Anglo-Saxon political systems by President Reagan in the United States (US) and Margaret Thatcher in the UK. In continental Europe, it also found supporters among politicians, although with less vigour than in the Anglo-Saxon world.

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