Public Private Partnerships: Rome’s EPrix, auto industry mergers and repercussions, turnpikes and toll roads

Gordon L. Brady

Article ID: 1151
Vol 3, Issue 2, 2019

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This paper uses Public Choice analysis to examine the case for and experience with Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). A PPP is a contractual platform which connects a governmental body and a private entity. The goal is to provide a public sector program, service, or asset that would normally be provided exclusively by a public sector entity. This paper focuses on PPPs in developed countries, but it also draws on studies of PPPs in developing countries. The economics literature generally defines PPPs as long-term contractual arrangements between a public authority (local or central government) and a private supplier for the delivery of services. The private sector supplier takes responsibility for building infrastructure components, securing financing of the investment, and then managing and maintaining this facility.

However, in addition to those formed through contracts, PPPs may take other forms such as those developed in response to tax subvention or coercion, as in the case of regulatory mandates. A key element of PPP is that the private partner takes on a significant portion of the risk through a schedule of specified remuneration, contingency payments, and provision for dispute resolution. PPPs typically are long-term arrangements and involve large corporations on the private side, but may also be limited to specific phases of a project.

The types of PPPs discussed in this paper exclude arrangements which may result from government mandates such as the statutory emission mandates imposed on automobile manufacturers and industrial facilities (e.g., power plants). It also excludes PPP-like organizations resulting from US section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, which provides tax subsidies for certain public charities, scientific research organizations, and organizations whose goals are to prevent cruelty to animals or erect public monuments at no expense to the government. This paper concludes that an array of Public Choice tools are applicable to understanding the emergence, success, or failure of PPPs. Several short case studies are provided to illustrate the practicalities of PPPs. 


Public-Private Partnerships; Public Choice; Virginia School of political economy; anti-commons; rent-seeking; positive-sum rent-seeking; transitional gains trap; regulatory capture; cognitive dissonance; Rome Formula ePrix; Dulles Greenway

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