Question 1


Do you (plan to) work with government, the Public P?

This might help you find out

Who is the Public P?

Reasons for partnerships to engage public actors

Suggestions for further reading

This might help you find out

Do you need to work with government, for example because

  • this is required by donor or investor, or
  • there are legal obligations to involve government in the country or sector you focus on
  • you need a license to operate

Do you want to partner with government

Why government and not other actors? Check out other key partners, apart from government, in a PPP, as defined by the PPPCanvas

What else is important, apart from public sector management, as an ingredient for (vertical) scaling, as defined by the PPPLab Scaling Scan?

Who is the Public P?  

Government, also known as the Public P:

The first P – the public – in a PPP refers to the public sector. The public sector consist of organizations that are owned (or partly owned) and operated by the government and exist to provide services for citizens. Examples of organizations in the public sector include those dealing with education, infrasucture, and social services. The organization of the public sector varies by country, but public sector organizations usually exist of three levels: federal or national; regional (state or province), and local (municipality or county). To be aware of the diversity of public actors creates a better understanding of who the public sector is and supports strategies concerned with the choice of public actors to engage with. For more information consult our Insight Booklet Partnering with the Public P.

Reasons for engaging public actors

Sustainability, scaling, public value creation

Sustaining and scaling the partnership’s efforts is a key driver for engaging the Public P. It is generally understood that, without proper involvement of the public sector, it is difficult for PPPs to overcome barriers to scale. This requires vertical scaling, involving a focus on changing or strengthening the enabling environment. The Public P plays a key role in this. For this type of scaling, the Public P requires a particular kind of capacity—namely, the partnering capacity to bring in and negotiate new partnerships.

Policy Requirement

In some cases, certain policies by governments or donors can require public sector involvement in a partnership.

The formal requirement for projects within the Dutch funded Sustainable Water Fund (FDW) is to include a public partner in the consortium—which can include (semi)public actors, such as local water boards—triggers lead partners to engage. In FDOV, only less than half of the partnerships formally include an in-country Public P, and in all cases this is central government or parastatals.

In contexts such as Rwanda and Ethiopia with strong roles by government, the government has a steering role in partnerships, regardless of the sector and region has a steering role in PPPs in Rwanda and Ethiopia

Public involvement in a certain sector

In some sectors, public actor involvement is (naturally) more active/intensive than in others. Sectors that encompass public goods and public service provision, for instance, usually have a higher level of public sector involvement/different role of public actors than sector addressing a private good.

Between the food and water sectors there is a difference of the nature of the ‘public good’. In water and sanitation, developing a strong business case for private actors by recovering the costs of investment through, for example, water tarrifs can be at odds with the sociopolitical objective of providing access to water for all people. The water sector therefore remains a largely public domain, despite the rise in private actor engagement. The construction and maintenance of a water supply and sanitation infrastructure remains a traditional objective of development cooperation.

Suggestions for further reading

Bennington, J. (2011). From private choice to public value? In: Bennington, J & Moore, M. (Eds.) Public Value: Theory and Practice. Pp.31-51. New York: Palgrave Macmillan

Bryson, J.M., Crosby, B. C. & Bloomberg, L. (Eds.) (2015). Creating Public Value in Practice. Advancing the Common Good in a Multi-Sector, Shared-Power, No-One-Wholly-in-Charge World. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group.

Page, S. B., Stone, M. M., Bryson, J.M., Crosby, B.C. (2015). Public Value Creation by Cross-Sector Collaborations: A Framework and Challenges of Assessment. Public Administration, Vol. 93(3), 715-732.

Pfisterer, S. (2017). Public value and our collective future: what kind of world do we want to live in and how to create it? Interview with Prof. John Bryson. Annual Review of Social Partnerships, Issue 12.


One thought to “Question 1”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *