Public-private partnership has been a globally popular strategy for governments over the past two decades to deliver public-infrastructure. But private finance approaches have also been controversial, and there has been much written on issues such as defining and characterising partnerships, valuing risk, measuring value-for-money and on questions of performance. Crucial matters of governance including aspects such as accountability and decision making have also been discussed. Whilst some of the appeal of the PPP approach to infrastructure may have waned since the global financial crisis of 2008, it has equally become clear that PPP is as much an ideal as it is a specific policy or technical reform tool, and its political popularity will continue. This paper canvasses a range of infrastructure PPP literatures in order to develop a contemporary research agenda. It builds on the work of Broadbent and Laughlin (1999), Connolly and Wall (2009) and others. The paper begins by acknowledging the broad nature and appeal of the PPP phenomenon, the multiplicity of goals pursued through these strategies and the inherently contestable nature of many of PPP's performance domains. It observes that whilst there has indeed been much experience with Long Term Infrastructure Contract PPPs, some of the primary debates around performance are likely to remain unresolved and continue into the future. The paper seeks to move beyond older debates and address several contemporary areas of PPP performance which have not yet seen the visibility that they deserve. Multi-disciplinary in its reach, the paper seeks to strengthen research into the PPP phenomenon rather than displace empirical and theoretical contributions to date. Several examples of new areas of research priority are articulated including the role of PPP as governance tool, the influence of PPP on urban and regional planning matters, PPPs and pension funds, changing forms of PPP transparency, and the psychological appeal of PPPs to citizens, ministers and markets. And above this, a meta-frame of the internationalisation of the PPP phenomenon is proposed as the basis for a contemporary PPP research agenda. The paper concludes that these new areas of research endeavour will be fundamental to the next generation of PPP. The results from such new research directions, as well as continued empirical findings on more traditional questions of value-for-money and timeliness, are likely to be at the heart of how we judge PPPs tomorrow.
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Public-Private Partnership Conference Series CBS-Sauder-Monash 2013