What prevents the success of public-private partnerships with non-profit organizations?

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What prevents the success of public-private partnerships with non-profit organizations?


Jose Mauricio Rincon
Master of Science in International Public Service (2012 -Candidate)

School of Public Service
DePaul University

Submitted to Dr. Nonie Brennan
MPS 501-205
Cross Sector Analysis

Dr. Nonie Brennan.


March 8, 2011

What prevents thesuccess of public-private partnerships with non-profit organizations?


Research into public-private partnerships began in the 1980’s and has increased over time. Public-private partnerships are expected to generate added value for both sectors by solving complex problems, yet there is no ideal model for these partnerships (Bult-Spiering 2006). The challenges of constructing successfulcollaborations are well recognized: communication, identifying common goals, and gaining agreements (Huxham C, 2000). But most of the literature agrees to these core elements for successful partnership agreements: trust, commitment and sharing risk (Brooks, Liebman, Schelling 1984; Bult-Spiering 2006; Hemming, IMF 2006; Burger, 2000). Similarly, articles for and against public-private partnershipsagree on problems that prevent their success: lack of guidance and poor communication between parties, poor coordination in delivering services, ambiguous nature of services, lack of skills (Bult-Spiering 2006), and lack of equity among partners (Miraftab, 2004).
This research examines what prevents the success of public-private partnerships with non-profit organizations. The article begins withbackground information on the nature of public-private partnerships. A review of literature for and against public-private partnerships with non-profit organizations follows. A conclusion evidences similar arguments on the issues that prevent successful public-private partnerships with non-profit organizations.

From its birth, one of the traits distinguishing the United Statesfrom other western nations was the absence of established institutions (Brooks, Liebman, Schelling 1984). The feudal idea of ordered strata and a strong sense of unity never took hold in the U.S. Instead, the focus was on an open and mobile society protected from absolutism by a division of powers written in the constitution (Brooks, Liebman, Schelling 1984). The scramble for wealth and shares ofpower became the essence of the American life. Most importantly, Americans were free to mix public and private functions without a sense of conflict (Brooks, Liebman, Schelling 1984). By the middle of the 20th century, a functional separation of the public and private sectors became the norm (Brooks, Liebman, Schelling 1984).
In general, countries with strong public traditions generatepublic-private partnerships dominated by the public sector, and in countries with weaker public sector traditions, the private sector dominates the partnership (Bult-Spiering 2006). In the United States, as opposed to other western states, the rise of big business preceded the rise of big government (Brooks, Liebman, Schelling 1984).

Literature review
Although there is no clear consensus on whatconstitutes a public-private partnership, it’s generally agreed to as the transfer to the private sector of investment projects that traditionally have been done by the public sector (Hemming, IMF 2006). Peter V. Schaeffer, from West Virginia University, addresses the concern that public-private partnerships is a term used for a commonality among partners that doesn’t exist (Schaeffer, P, 2005).Instead, using the term “cooperation”, Schaeffer calls for an agreed-upon vocabulary for describing different cooperative efforts between the public sector and private for profit organizations (Schaeffer, P, 2005).
Public-private partnerships have some important characteristics: private execution and financing of public investment, emphasis in service provision and investment by the private sector,...
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