The Challenge of Public–Private Partnerships

The Challenge of Public–Private Partnerships

Learning from International Experience

Edited by Graeme A. Hodge and Carsten Greve

The aim of the book is to investigate how PPP reforms function in comparison to the more traditional methods of providing public sector services and infrastructure and who typically experiences the successes and failures of these reforms.

Chapter 2: The public-private interface: surveying the history

Roger Wettenhall

Subjects: economics and finance, public sector economics, politics and public policy, public policy


2. The public–private interface: surveying the history Roger Wettenhall INTRODUCTION As the conception of this book will indicate, ‘partnership’, particularly in the form of ‘public–private partnership’ (or ‘PPP’), has become one of the dominating organizational ideas circulating at the beginning of the 21st century. It has all the popular appeal of a new messianic slogan, and it can plausibly be argued that it has taken over that role from ‘privatization’ (and its variant, the softer ‘corporatization’) which had that role through the later 1980s and the 1990s. Privatization was itself, of course, the antidote to the earlier ‘nationalization’, a dominant idea around the mid-20th century. PPP, indeed, has the virtue of claiming a sort of middle ground between the hardline positions occupied by nationalization at the left pole and privatization at the right pole of the public–private spectrum. Its appeal, the very term implies, should be all the greater because it offers something to the adherents of both those earlier positions. Seemingly it moves us towards endeavours organized on a collaborative basis, whereas both those older bases were adversary by their very nature and so socially divisive in their effects. However, many who want to be associated with the new fashion use the term without attempting to define their purpose – or its relevance to that purpose – with any precision. For some, it seems that almost any modern organizational innovation where public and private elements are found can be described as a PPP; for others, it seems...

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