Technological innovations in the context of public-private partnership projects

Abstract: The idea that the private sector can play an important partin the financing and creation of built assets and thesubsequent operation of public services has gained ground overthe last decade. This development has contributed to the risein public-private partnership (PPP) projects in many countriesand within many areas in the public sector. From theconstruction perspective, these projects are usually creditedas providing real incentives for the actors involved, as wellas creating a business environment that is conducive toinnovation and improved practices, especially in theconstruction phase. This thesis examines the validity of thesestatements in the context of the PPP procurement route and theextent to which the actors involved in the design andconstruction phases are presented with, and able to exploit,opportunities for technological innovation. A multiple- casestudy approach was adopted for the empirical part of theresearch. Four major projects, containing significantconstruction work and completed between 1997 and 2002, werestudied: three in the UK and one in Sweden. Project personnel–the principal actors in the design and constructionphases–were interviewed at length. Within the findingsthere is evidence that the existence of certain conditions onprojects, and particular actions arising in relation thereto,can lead to a marked propensity towards innovative behaviour.The conclusion is reached that it is possible to implementtechnological innovations successfully on PPP projects, butthat there is reason to be cautious in promoting thisprocurement route as a prescription for success in theconstruction sector. There are inhibitors in the process thathave the potential to limit the amount of innovation achievedon a project. The thesis discusses this matter and identifiesthree key areas–communication and information, achievingtransparency in the applied framework and risk management–in which actions could be taken in order to improve theprospects for realising technological innovation on PPPprojects.Keywords:Public-private partnerships, technologicalinnovation, construction procurement, project management,risk