Some public-private partnerships (PPPs) fail. That’s a fact. But when the lessons these failures impart are integrated into future projects, missteps have the potential to innovate — energizing the learning cycle and setting the stage for long-term success. To gain a better understanding of how innovation in PPPs builds on genuine learning, we reached out to PPP infrastructure experts around the world, posing the same question to each. Their honest answers redefine what works — and provide new insights into the PPP process.
This is the question we posed: How can mistakes be absorbed into the learning process, and when can failure function as a step toward a PPP’s long-term success?
Our first response in this eight-part series comes from the International Monetary Fund's Isabel Rial.
For centuries, PPPs have been used by governments as an alternative to traditional public procurement for the provision of public infrastructure, although results have been mixed. If properly managed, PPPs can deliver substantial benefits in terms of mobilizing private financial resources and know-how, promoting efficient use of public funds and improving service quality.
Yet in practice, PPPs have not always performed better than traditional public provision of infrastructure. The reasons for this vary across countries.