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Edited by Graeme A. Hodge, Carsten Greve and Anthony E. Boardman
Chapter 3: A Brief Intellectual History of the Public–Private Partnership Movement
Tony Bovaird Introduction The public–private partnership (PPP) phenomenon has been with us for a long time. The phrase first became used by a specialist audience in the 1970s, and books were being written about such partnerships even in the 1980s (e.g. Rose, 1986), although it was the 1990s before it was widely recognized, when the Private Finance Initiative was launched by the John Major administration in the UK, and the acronym ‘PPP’ became common currency. However, the actual phenomenon goes much further back into history. This chapter explores the intellectual history of the PPP movement, both before and after it became a widely used acronym. It demonstrates that the intellectual provenance of PPPs is very varied, with major contributions from across the social sciences. This has contributed to the richness of our understanding of PPPs, but it has also made it difficult for critical comment to develop a constructive perspective from which to evaluate PPPs and suggest options for their change. In consequence, while there has been considerable criticism of specific manifestations of PPPs (like PFI), there is still considerable interest in and optimism about the potential of PPPs in general. The intellectual foundations of PPPs From the social science disciplines, there has been a wide range of rationales for PPPs and analyses of their consequences. In Table 3.1 we set out the range of theories we consider in this chapter (adapted and extended from Sullivan and Skelcher, 2002). A stylized history of conceptual standpoints for rationalizing the role...
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