Private finance-based infrastructure public–private partnerships (P3s) are globally popular, including renewed interest in the United States, but their performance remains contested. This article explores the meaning of P3 and the notion of P3 success, and points to multiple interpretations of both. It proposes a new conceptual model of the P3 phenomenon, including five levels of meaning: project, delivery method, policy, governance tool, and cultural context. Numerous criteria exist on which the success of P3 might be judged. These are as oriented toward politics and governance as they are toward more traditional utilitarian policy goals concerned with project delivery, or value for money (VfM). Indeed, governments have dozens of different goals in mind. Given mixed international results to date for VfM, it is posited that to the extent that infrastructure P3s continue to show popularity, governments may stress P3 success more on the basis of political and governance strengths, than utilitarian characteristics.
- Infrastructure development
- Public–private partnerships