Governing and (re)producing project governance: Public Private Partnerships at their exploitation phase

Camilo Andres Benitez Avila

    Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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    Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) are usually presented as collaborative inter-organizational relationships between public and private organizations for increasing the efficiency of public infrastructure delivery. Yet, PPPs are realized in very particular long-term contractual engagements, whose effects on the quality of the partnership and its outcomes are often subject to debate by practitioners and scholars. Here it is argued that our understanding of PPPs path at project level requires framing their formal governance structures as continuously (re)shaped by managerial activity, interactions and relations. Project managerial relations and interaction are built upon managers' dual position as members of temporal and permanent organizations. Furthermore, governing managerial activity unfolds within the historically contingent public-private relationing embodied in PPP contracts. Cycles of change and reproduction of PPP governance at the project level emerge, but are not reduced to, the shifts in the control/autonomy relationing in the contested field of public infrastructure and build environment. Therefore, the degrees of managerial freedom or agency depend on their creative enactment of project governance structures and organizational mandates, and their capacity to build new ways of relationing that eventually contribute to change at field level. This PhD dissertation substantiates this idea, taking as an empirical setting the maintenance and operation phase of Design-Build-Finance- Maintenance (DBFM) contracts in the Netherlands. We situate governing activity open to contingency and explainable within the complex process inter-linking agency and structure at project, organization and fields levels. In this introductory chapter, we define PPPs as a governance design and then as a phenomenon. These two different perspectives set up the context that accounts for the need to elaborate on social theory approaches to bring to light the actuality of PPP at the project level. Based on this background, we introduce the problem statement, research questions, approach and strategy inspired in the critical realist logic of scientific discovery. This section ends with the outline of the PhD dissertation.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Dewulf, Geert, Supervisor
    • Hartmann, Andreas, Co-Supervisor
    Thesis sponsors
    Award date5 Dec 2019
    Place of PublicationEnschede
    Print ISBNs978-90-365-4901-1
    Electronic ISBNs978-90-365-4901-1
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2019


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