Do countries learn from experience in infrastructure public–private partnerships? Public–private partnerships practice and contract cancellation

Darwin Marcelo, R. Schuyler House, Cledan Mandri-Perrott, Jordan Z. Schwartz

Article ID: 1084
Vol 3, Issue 1, 2019, Article identifier:56-75

VIEWS - 463 (Abstract) 242 (PDF)


Learning from experience to improve future infrastructure public-private partnerships is a focal issue for policy makers, financiers, implementers, and private sector stakeholders. An extensive body of case studies and “lessons learned” aims to improve the likelihood of success and attempts to avoid future contract failures across sectors and geographies. This paper examines whether countries do, indeed, learn from experience to improve the probability of success of public-private partnerships at the national level. The purview of the paper is not to diagnose learning across all aspects of public-private partnerships globally, but rather to focus on whether experience has an effect on the most extreme cases of public-private partnership contract failure, premature contract cancellation. The analysis utilizes mixed-effects probit regression combined with spline models to test empirically whether general public-private partnership experience has an impact on reducing the chances of contract cancellation for future projects. The results confirm what the market intuitively knows, that is, that public-private partnership experience reduces the likelihood of contract cancellation. But the results also provide a perhaps less intuitive finding: the benefits of learning are typically concentrated in the first few public-private partnership deals. Moreover, the results show that the probability of cancellation varies across sectors and suggests the relative complexity of water public-private partnerships compared with energy and transport projects. An estimated $1.5 billion per year could have been saved with interventions and support to reduce cancellations in less experienced countries (those with fewer than 23 prior public-private partnerships).


public–private partnership; contract cancellation; mixed-effect probit model; linear spline; cubic spline

Full Text:



Araral E, Jarvis DS, Ramesh M and Xun W (2011). Regulating infrastructure: A review of the issues, problems, and challenges. Infrastructure Regulation: What Works, Why and How Do We Know? Lessons from Asia and Beyond. Singapore: National University of Singapore. p17-19. Available from:,+Jarvis+DS,+Ramesh+M+and+Xun+W+(2011).+Regulating+infrastructure:+A+review+of+the+issues,+problems,+and+challenges.+Infrastructure+Regulation:+What+Works, + W h y + a n d + H o w + D o + We + K n o w % 3 F + L e s s o n s + f r o m + A s i a + a n d + B e y o n d . + S i n g a p o r e:+National+University+of+Sing&lr=&source=gbs_navlinks_s.

Bovens M and Hart P (1995). Frame multiplicity and policy fiascos: Limits to explanation. Knowledge and Policy, 8(4): 61-83.

Alford, J (2013). Wicked problems: Implications for public policy and management. Administration and Society, 47(6): 711-739.

Delmon J (2009). Private Sector Investment in Infrastructure: Project Finance, PPP Projects and Risks. Netherlands: Kluwer Law International. Available from:

Gould W (1993). Linear splines and piecewise linear functions. Stata Technical Bulletin, 15: 13-17. Availble from:

Reprinted in Stata Technical Bulletin Reprints. Vol. 3. College Station, TX: Stata Press. p98-104. Available from:

Guo G and Zhao H (2000). Multilevel modeling for binary data. Annual Review of Sociology, 26(1): 441-462.

Harrell F (2001). Regression modeling strategies: With applications to linear models, logistic regression, and survival analysis. New York: Springer.

Howlett M (2009). Policy analytical capacity and evidence-based policy-making: Lessons from Canada. Canadian Public Administration, 52(2): 153-175.

Linder S and Peters B (1987). A design perspective on policy implementation: The fallacies of misplaced prescription. Review of Policy Research, 6(3): 459-475.

Mandri-Perrott XC and Bisbey J (2016) How to Develop Sustainable Irrigation Projects with Private Sector Participation: Public-Private Partnerships Toolkits. Washington DC: The World Bank.

Mandri-Perrott XC and Stiggers DJ (2013). Public Private Partnerships in the Water Sector. London: IWA Publishing. Availble from:

Marcelo D and House S (2016). Effects of Multilateral Support on Infrastructure PPP Contract Cancellation. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper Series (No. 7751). Washington DC: The World Bank.

McConnell A (2010). Policy success, policy failure and grey areas in-between. Journal of Public Policy, 30(3): 345-362.

Panis C (1994). The piecewise linear spline transformation. Stata Technical Bulletin, 18: 27-29. Availble from:

Reprinted in Stata Technical Bulletin Reprints. Vol. 3. College Station, TX: Stata Press. p146-149. Available from:

Scott J (1998). Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. London:Yale University Press.

UK House of Commons Treasury Committee (2011). Private Finance Initiative: Seventeenth Report of Session 2010-12. Printed 18 July 2011. Available from:

cmselect/cmtreasy/1146/1146.pdf. [Last accessed on: 2017 Apr 28].

Weber E and Khademian A (2008). Wicked problems, knowledge challenges, and collaborative capacity builders in network settings. Public Administration Review, 68(2): 334-349.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2019 Darwin Marcelo, R. Schuyler House, Cledan Mandri-Perrott, Jordan Z. Schwartz

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Creative Commons License
This site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.