T07P12 - Public-Private Partnerships as Public Policy

Topic : Policy Design, Policy Analysis, Expertise and Evaluation

Panel Chair : Olivia Jensen - olivia.jensen@nus.edu.sg

Objectives and Scientific Relevance of the panel

The growing literature on PPPs has greatly advanced our understanding of the factors that contribute to the successful contracting of PPPs (for example, reviews of critical success factors by Osei-Kyei and Chan 2015 and Ke et al 2009), variables affecting the stability and longevity of individual contracts (Marcelo & House 2016) and the assessment of the ‘value for money’ of infrastructure procurement through PPP (Mwangi 2016). Theoretical advances in agency theory have informed contract and auction design (see Iossa & Martimort 2015, for a recent extension to a rich literature on the topic).

The unit of analysis in much of this literature is the individual contract, with PPP often defined implicitly as a procurement method, and ‘success’ construed within the confines of contract terms. While such an approach has yielded interesting and useful results for contract design, tendering etc., it is only one facet of PPP as public policy.

PPP may also be conceived more broadly as a policy instrument employed to achieve particular policy objectives at the sector, regional or national level. Framing PPP as a policy instrument in this way implies that a different approach to evaluation is needed that takes into account several modes of ‘success,’ including process, goal attainment, distributional outcomes and political consequences (Newman 2014).  A growing body of literature on accountability and governance of PPPs draws attention to the challenges of ensuring that PPPs are consistent with mechanisms of democratic accountability (Willems and van Dooren 2016).

In evaluating PPP as public policy, it is necessary to shift the focus from the individual project to the assessment of the impact of PPP on an entire sector, region or country. This shift in perspective raises many new questions, for example about the level of effective competition in PPP procurement, and in the cumulative liabilities of governments engaging in large multi-sector PPP programmes.

This panel seeks to deepen our understanding of PPP as an instrument of public policy and to contribute to the elaboration of meaningful evaluation frameworks for PPP in these terms. The maturation of PPP programmes in the UK, Australia and other pioneers provides an opportunity for evaluation and to draw out lessons for countries that have recently embarked on PPP more recently.

Call for papers

Public-private partnerships may be conceived broadly as a policy instrument employed to achieve particular policy objectives at the sector, regional or national level. Framing PPP as a policy instrument in this way implies that ex ante and ex post evaluation should be conducted at the sector level in addition to the standard analysis carried out at the project level. An evaluation may take into account several modes of ‘success,’ including process, goal attainment, distributional outcomes and political consequences (Newman 2014).  A shift in perspective from the individual contract to the sector raises many new questions, for example about the level of effective competition in PPP procurement; the impact of large single- or multi-sector PPP programmes on the cumulative liabilities of governments; and the operating performance of PPPs over the entire term of  contracts.

This panel seeks to deepen our understanding of PPP as an instrument of public policy and to contribute to the elaboration of meaningful evaluation frameworks for PPP in these terms. The maturation of PPP programmes in the UK, Australia and other pioneers provides an opportunity for evaluation and to draw out lessons for countries that have recently embarked on PPP, while the spread of PPP across jurisdictions provides extensive opportunities for comparative analysis.

Particular topics of interest include but are not limited to:

The contribution of PPP to improved access to and quality of infrastructure, utility and social services and other sector-level policy objectives;

Concentration and competition among PPP contractors at the national or global level and implications for programme design;

Distribution of benefits of PPP between government, private actors and citizens;

Evidence of efficiency and other performance outcomes of PPP over the entire contract term and the design of incentives for efficient ongoing operations and maintenance;

PPP as case of policy transplantation;

The relationship between government capacity and long-term benefit distribution from PPPs.

Submissions of both theoretical and empirical works are welcome for the panel; empirical studies from emerging markets would be especially appreciated.

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