What Can Public Administration Scholars Learn from the Economics Controversies in Public-private Partnerships?

Graeme A. Hodge*, Carsten Greve

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is the label often applied to long-term contractual arrangements when the private sector provides management and operating services for public infrastructure and puts private finance at risk. Political and economic logics have long been applied when analysing the success of such infrastructure delivery mechanisms. Mixed empirical performance results has been a recurring theme. Decades of PPP implementation experience has improved our knowledge of the political and policy “logic” of PPP success, but public administration scholars know less about the logic of the economist, about how economic thinking has evolved and its effects on PPP evaluation. This article explores discussions and debates analysing the economics of PPPs. It challenges the PPP economic efficiency argument, not from the perspective of public administration or public policy (which now repeat well-rehearsed arguments) but from the perspective of economics itself. The article argues overall that there are strongly competing economics logics relevant to PPPs, and that public administration scholars need to be more aware of these internal economics controversies and debates rather than assuming that economics is a settled homogenous discipline. Furthermore, it argues that this heterogeneity of economic logics is a central reason why PPP performance debates continue to be unresolved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Public Administration
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)219-235
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online: 06 Aug 2021.


  • Public private partnership
  • PPP
  • Infrastructure
  • Evaluation
  • Economics

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