Special issue on Design Issues in Public-Private Partnerships


Journal of Organization Design

Special issue on Design Issues in Public-Private Partnerships

Submission deadline, Jan 15, 2016.

Guest editors: Zeger van Der Wal (LKY-NUS) & Kannan Srikanth (SMU) 

The Journal of Organization Design invites submissions for a special issue on the topic of “Design issues in Public-Private Partnerships (PPP’s)”.

This special issue invites empirical papers using any methodology (cases, archival data or survey data analysis, experiments) that investigate design issues in PPP – contrasting them with the challenges in traditional buyer-supplier relations or alliances found between private companies- private sector partnerships ( or “PSP’s”). The question we focus on is how the “public” nature of one party to the partnership changes the design of such relationships. Papers from either a public administration and/or organization science perspective are very welcome.

At a fundamental level, inter-firm partnerships can be seen as a particular instance of temporary (because they have a finite life) and lateral (because there is no formal authority hierarchy) organizations. We know a fair amount about this particular form of organizing, and how the basic design choices such as task divisions and allocation between partners, coordination, incentives and dispute resolution mechanisms (including reliance on equity ownership and consequent voting rights) affect their structure and performance. The benefits of synergies between partners, common pathologies such as “learning races”, as well as the advantages conferred by specialized organizational units responsible for managing a portfolio of partnerships, have all been well documented in the literature on PSP’s.

In this special issue we are interested in understanding, with reference to the traditional “best practices” in the design of PSP’s if, why and how they need to change in public-private partnerships. In particular we would like to learn how design decisions can aid in the process of value creation and private capture, while also safeguarding the public interest. This contrast based approach is likely to generate insight about both public-private partnerships as well as the design of inter-organizational partnerships in general.

Papers tackling questions such as (but not limited to) these would be welcome to be reviewed for the special issue:

  • How does the involvement of public interest influence partner selection, and the profitability of the private sector player in PPP’s?
  • To what extent is there flexibility in the distribution of tasks between partners in PPP’s?
  • How are multi-party PPP’s organized and managed? How do they differ from meta-organizations in the private sector? How does the existence of multiple stake-holders within the “public” side influence the design and performance of PPP’s?
  • What are the distinctive mechanisms of organizing and governance in PPP’s? By mechanisms, we mean contracts, incentives, task assignment, information exchange and communication interfaces, private and public audits, dispute resolution etc. For instance:
    • What are innovative contract design elements that seem to enhance the performance of PPP’s? What are the limits and possibilities of the use of pay-for-performance arrangements in PPP’s?
    • How does the organizational interface between partner’s look different in PPP’s and other private sector partnerships (PSP’s)?
    • How does the dispute resolution process in PPP’s differ from that in PSP’s?

Are there particular managerial skills needed to manage the interface in PPP’s? Are there particular incentive mechanisms that allow entrepreneurial decision making (i.e. avoiding omission errors) within the public partner, while preserving safeguards against improprieties and mistakes (i.e. commission errors)?

Keeping with JOD’s aims, we wish to publish concise, clear and compelling articles (with the scope for putting supplementary materials in online appendices); short articles (4500-5000 words) are encouraged, though the shortening can also occur through the editorial process. All submissions are processed though double blind peer review.