Offentlig-private partnerskaber på bygge- og anlægsområdet: Et projekt om begrebsforståelse og partnerskabskommunikation

Christiane Schulze

Student thesis: Master thesis


Public Private Partnerships (PPP) have attracted a lot of attention during the last ten to fifteen years. These partnerships are often praised as the third way – alternative to both privatisation and traditional public provision. Governments all over the world have introduced PPP as an instrument to leverage private investment to resolve traditionally publicly provided services. The concepts of cooperation, which PPP refers to, are manifold and I have chosen to focus on the British Public Private Initiative (PFI) – a concept that has been spread to a lot of countries. Using a system theoretical approach inspired by Niklas Luhmann, my ambition was not to define what the PFI/ PPP concept should be, but rather to consider the meaning of the term empirically. This ambition represents my first cognitive interest. As PFI/PPP is an internationally known phenomenon, I decided to base my analyses on Danish as well as German Examples. I conclude, that in both countries the term is being used quiet alike and refers to contractual cross-sector cooperation that encompass the entire life cycle of building projects. As the private party is responsible for the delivery of the entire project, it also bears the corresponding risks. Hence, the PFI/PPP term refers to mostly same meaning. Yet there are differences between the analysed observations depending on the chosen perspective which forms the observation. Hence, variations in-between PFI/PPP observations depend less on national boarders than on the observer’s perspective – or as Luhmann would say: the function system that communication is coupled to. As stated above PFI/PPP are based on contracts. A wide range of literature claims that contractual PPP are not real partnerships in the meaning of the term. Out of this observation, I developed my second cognitive interest, to analyse whether PFI/PPP represents a partnership or a contract. Based on system theory, I observe partnerships as autonomous systems that both unfold their own organisation and at the same time function as contracts, which have to be translated into the internal communication of each respective member-organisation. I conclude that the contract of PFI/PPP does not constitute a partnership. However the complexity of the project and need for mutual agreements and consultations evokes partnership-type communication in contractual PPPs. While they might not be intended to be a partnership, they develop a common organisation in order to cope with unforeseeable and unsettled questions.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2009
Number of pages164