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How Governance Of Complex PPPs Affects Performance

Author: KIT VAN GESTEL, JORIS VOETS and KOEN VERHOEST
Published in PAQ, Vol. 36 No. 2

Since the late nineties public-private partnership (PPP) has been a rising star in the public sector’s firmament, and hence a popular topic for public sector scholars to study. Much of the PPP research so far is focused on general trends, empirical analysis and on particular aspects of PPP, e.g. their democratic quality, the risk allocation, their policy impact, and management issues. However, more integrated work on the level of projects and programs is needed. PPP arrangements do not follow one set path towards a unified model. We argue that PPP arrangements are shaped by contextual elements in which they are constructed and that the capacity of the government to manage PPPs will affect their final configuration and hence their performance. We therefore hypothesize that a good match between (a) complexity of (the environment of) a particular PPP project, (b) the overall capacity of the government to manage PPP projects, and (c) the particular governance strategy applied to a PPP project, is required to achieve good performance, and vice versa. To test this hypothesis, this article takes a more integrating perspective on PPP arrangements by using a holistic design that draws on a range of insights in PPP and public management literature, trying to combine and test them in a novel way. In the first part of the article, we introduce the conceptual framework. Next, we test it in a case study that involves the design, the construction, financing and maintenance of social housing infrastructure. Finally, we draw up some conceptual, empirical and theoretical lessons.

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