Edited by Graeme A. Hodge, Carsten Greve and Anthony E. Boardman
Chapter 6: Splintered Logic and Political Debate
Matthew Flinders In 1983 the American political scientist Graham Allison wrote a seminal article in which he posed the question: are public and private organizations fundamentally alike in all unimportant respects? In asking this question Allison sought to explicate and define the differences between the values, principles and motivations – the very underlying logic – of public and private organizations. A quarter of a century later Allison’s question remains as salient, if not more so, than when it was first posed. More specifically, his conclusion that ‘public and private management are at least as different as they are similar, and the differences are more important than the similarities’ provides a canvas on which it is possible to explore emergent themes and tensions in relation to the role of public– private partnerships (PPPs) in the provision or supply of public goods in the twenty-first century. Exploring these themes, particularly those concerning sociopolitical relationships, is critical due to the fact that although a great deal has been written about the growth, role and technicalities of PPPs, very little has been written about the political implications of the global trend towards promoting a greater role for the private sector in the design and delivery of public services. More critically for the focus of this chapter, much of the literature on what might be termed ‘the politics of PPPs’ has exhibited a lazy style of thinking and little conscious theorizing – lazy in the sense that political debate has been couched in terms of broad polarizations that...
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