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2013/2014  KAN-CM_SU4L  The Politics of Public-Private Partnerships

English Title
The Politics of Public-Private Partnerships

Course information

Language English
Exam ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration Summer
Course period Summer
Please check www.cbs.dk/summer for the course schedule.
Time Table Please see course schedule at e-Campus
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Course instructor - Sanford Schram, Bryn Mawr College
    Patricia Plackett - Department of Operations Management (OM)
Main academic disciplines
  • Political leadership, public management and international politics
  • Economic and organizational sociology
Last updated on 22-07-2013
Learning objectives
At the end of the course, the student should be able to:
  • Develop critical perspectives on fundamental arguments about what PPPs are, how the work, and why they matter.
  • Understand how and why PPPs have emerged over the past several decades as a widespread global development in governance.
  • Understand several major theoretical perspectives on the role and significance of PPPs in politics, governance, and the policy process.
  • Have a clear comprehension of key concepts such as neoliberalism, democracy, governance, power, philanthrocapitalism, and so on.
  • Develop the analytic skills needed to analyse PPPs from a political perspective and assess their opportunities, constraints, and risks.
Course prerequisites
There are no prerequisites for this course aside from graduate standing.
Prerequisites for registering for the exam
Requirements about active class participation (assessed approved/not approved)
Mandatory Mid-term Assignment: : For the mid-term assignment, students will work in small groups of five and will be asked to reflect on the desirability of PPP strategies for pursuing public goals in Denmark. The launching pad for the assignment will be the following article: Ole Helby Petersen. 2011. "Public-Private Partnerships as Converging or Diverging Trends in Public Management: A Comparative Analysis of PPP Policy and Regulation in Denmark and Ireland." International Public Management Review. 12(2): 1-37. (Article text is only pp.1-25.) Drawing this article into dialogue with course readings and their additional research, student groups will be asked to develop brief in-class presentations (10-12 minutes each) that address the following questions:

1. Why has the embrace of PPP strategies been less enthusiastic in Denmark than in many other developed nations?
2. Going forward, should Denmark maintain its skeptical stance toward PPP strategies or pursue them with greater vigor?
In addressing these questions, students should directly engage course materials and make an explicit argument about how PPPs fit into and matter for governance, problem-solving, power, and democracy in Denmark.
4-hour written exam:
Examination form Written sit-in exam
Individual or group exam Individual
Assignment type Written assignment
Duration 4 hours
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Summer Term
Aids allowed to bring to the exam Limited aids, see the list below and the exam plan/guidelines for further information:
  • Allowed dictionaries
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
If the number of registered candidates for the make-up examination/re-take examination warrants that it may most appropriately be held as an oral examination, the programme office will inform the students that the make-up examination/re-take examination will be held as an oral examination instead.
Course content and structure
This course invites graduate students to pursue a variety of theoretical and empirical questions regarding public-private partnerships (PPPs), democracy, and the pursuit of collective goals. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, we will illuminate PPPs by locating them in a broader context of politics and power, policy and governance. Students will explore PPPs from a variety of conceptual and theoretical standpoints. They will reflect on how the rise of PPPs fits into a broader frame of intellectual, political, and economic developments over the past several decades. Students will ask how we should evaluate PPPs in terms of their consequences - not only for the achievement of public goals but also for the future of democratic governance and citizenship. Readings for every class meeting present students with a variety of contending perspectives on the issues at hand - including strong proponents and strong critics of PPPs.
The course is structured to provide students with a series of coherent modules. The first class session introduces students to PPPs (generally and in Scandinavia), their development over time, and their political significance. Sessions 2-4 provide walk students through a series of conceptual standpoints for analysing PPPs - drawn respectively from theories of democracy, representation, and governance; theories of power and political economy; and theories of neoliberalism and globalization. Sessions 5-6 explore two ways we might understand PPPs as an "expansion" of traditional business models: corporate social responsibility and sustainability (which expand the scope of goals and expectations for private firms) and "philanthrocapitalism" (which expands the reach of business models to encompass a broad range of governing relations, philanthropic foundations, and non-profit organizations). Session 7 wraps up this part of the course with in-class presentations and discussions of mid-term projects.
With this conceptual work in hand, sessions 8-9 ask students to dig more deeply into two specific domains of governance. Session 8 focuses on issues related to poverty, showing how PPP strategies can emphasize improvements for the "bottom of the pyramid" and presenting some cautionary cases regarding the risks of privatization. Session 9 focuses on the growing role of PPPs and business-NGO collaborations in global governance and international relations. Finally, session 10 looks to the future by asking how PPPs fit into the emerging movement among scholars and practitioners to advance "public value governance."

The course's development of personal competences:
Students will learn to think more systematically about cross-sector collaboration, governance, and politics. They will be introduced to a variety of major conceptual and theoretical approaches to understanding governance, and they will develop the skills needed to recognize both opportunities and risks in PPP strategies.  By developing more precise accounts of how market, state and civil-society actors interact, students will enhance their capacities as both scholars and practitioners. At the same time, the course will provide students with a graduate-level introduction to key concepts in social and political theory.
Teaching methods
Class sessions will typically tack back and forth between question-driven discussions and short lectures designed to organize, clarify, and augment the ideas that have emerged through discussion. I begin with discussion questions - and devote most of our time in class to discussion - to ensure that students take primary responsibility for interpreting and critiquing the readings. I follow up with mini-lectures to ensure they come away with a clear understanding of the readings and the issues. In addition, I find that student engagement is improved by alternating between participatory discussions and short clarifying lectures that respond to the ways the students have framed and engaged the issues.

Preliminary Assignment: Instructors provide readings to be read before the start of classes in order to ‘jump-start’ the learning process. Students will be asked to read two short essays: (1) Milton Friedman. 1970. "The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Its Profits." New York Time Magazine. September 13. 6 pages. (2) Rosabeth Moss Kanter. 1999. "From Spare Change to Real Change: The Social Sector as Beta Site for Business Innovation." Harvard Business Review. May-June 122-32.
In his accessible and engaging (even fiery) essay, Friedman argues that, within some minimal legal and ethical constraints, market actors should be driven by profit motives alone. When private firms deviate from this motive, we all suffer in the end. More than four decades later, his argument remains an arresting and provocative challenge to those who call for a new era of corporate social responsibility and Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). Rosabeth Kanter’s influential essay from the Harvard Business Review offers an easy-to-grasp case for this new agenda, explaining the motivations and developments that have led so many businesses to embrace it. Students will be asked to arrive at the first class prepared to engage the debate.
Expected literature
The course will not make use of a textbook. Instead, students will read excerpts and articles I have selected. I will provide PDF copies of all readings. The following is a provisional schedule that I expect to update and revise if I am invited to Copenhagen. [Approx. 628 pages of reading total]
Class 1. PPPs and Politics: An Introduction [71]
Chris Skelcher. 2005. “Public-Private Partnerships and Hybridity” Oxford Handbook of Public Administration. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp.347-70.
Roger Wettenhall. 2010. “Mixes and Partnerships through Time.” In G.A. Hodge, C. Greve, and A.E. Boardman, eds. International Handbook on Public-Private Partnerships. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar. Pp.17-42.
Carsten Greve and Ulrika Mörth. 2010. “Public-Private Partnerships: The Scandinavian Experience.” In G.A. Hodge, C. Greve, and A.E. Boardman, eds. International Handbook on Public-Private Partnerships. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar. Pp.439-55.
Matthew Flinders. 2010. “Splintered Logic and Political Debate.” In G.A. Hodge, C. Greve, and A.E. Boardman, eds. International Handbook on Public-Private Partnerships. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar. pp.115-31. OR Matthew Flinders . 2005. “The Politics of Public-Private Partnerships” British Journal of Politics and International Relations. 7: 215-39.
Class 2. The Context of PPPs I: Theorizing Democracy and Governance [55]
Jane Mansbridge. 2003.“Rethinking Representation.”American Political Science Review. 97(4): 515-28.
Joe Soss. 1999. “Lessons of Welfare: Policy Design, Political Learning, and Political Action.” American Political Science Review. 93(2): 363-81.
Gerry Stoker. 2002. “Governance as Theory: Five Propositions.” International Social Science Journal. 50(155): 17-28.
Harry C. Boyte. 2005. “Reframing Democracy: Governance, Civic Agency, and Politics.” Public Administration Review. 65(5): 536-46.
Class 3. The Context of PPPs II: Theorizing Power and Interests in State-Market Relations [65]
Vicent J. Roscigno. 2012. “Power, Sociologically Speaking.” The Society Pages.http://thesocietypages.org/specials/power/7 pages.
Fred Block. 1977. “The Ruling Class Does Not Rule: Notes on the Marxist Theory of the State.” Socialist Revolution. 33(May-June): 6-28.
Frances Fox Piven. 2008. “Can Power from Below Change the World?” American Sociological Review. 73(1): 1-14.
Cornelia Woll. 2009. “Trade Policy Lobbying in the European Union: Who Captures Whom?” In D. Coen and J. Richardson, eds. Lobbying the European Union: Institutions, Actors, and Issues. New York: Oxford University Press. Pp.277-97.
Class 4. The Context of PPPs III: Theorizing Neoliberalism, Neoconservatism, and Globalization [62]
Stephen H. Linder. 1999. “Coming to Terms with the Public-Private Partnership.” American Behavioral Scientist. 43(1): 35-51.
Wendy Brown. 2006. “American Nightmare: Neoliberalism, Neoconservatism, and De-Democratization.” Political Theory. 34(6): 690-714.
Colin Hay. 2006. “What’s Globalization Got to Do with It? Economic Interdependence and the Future of European Welfare States.” Government and Opposition.: 1-22.
Class 5. Expanding the Business Model I: Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability [56]
Jeb Brugman and C.K. Prahalad. 2007. “Co-creating Business’s New Social Compact.” Harvard Business Review. (February): 80-91.
Stuart L Hart. 2010. “The Sustainable Value Portfolio.” Capitalism at the Crossroads: Next Generation Business Strategies for a Post-Crisis World. 3rd ed. Wharton School Publishing. Pp.79-107.
Gerard Hanlon. 2008. “Rethinking Corporate Social Responsibility and the Role of the Firm – On the Denial of Politics.” In A. Crane et al., eds. The Oxford handbook of Corporate Social Responsibility. New York: Oxford University Press. Pp.156-72.  
Class 6. Expanding the Business Model II: Philanthrocapitalism, and Democracy [102]
Gregory Dees. 2007. Philanthropy and Enterprise, Harnessing the Power of Business and Entrepreneurship for Social Change. Washington, DC: Brookings. Pp.1-12
Christine Letts, William Ryan, and Allen Grossman. 1997. “Virtuous Capital: What Foundations Can Learn from Venture Capitalists.” Harvard Business Review. (March-April): 36-44.
Michael Edwards. 2008. Just Another Emperor? The Myths and Realities of Philanthrocapitalism. Demos/Young Foundation. Pp11-92.
Class 7. Mid-Term Presentations and Discussion
No Readings
Class 8. PPPs, Privatization, Poverty, and the “Bottom of the Pyramid” [107]
Stuart L Hart. 2010. Capitalism at the Crossroads: Next Generation Business Strategies for a Post-Crisis World. 3rd ed. Wharton School Publishing. Pp.137-200.
Kevin Fox Gotham. 2012. “Disaster, Inc.: Privatization and Post-Katrina Rebuilding in New Orleans.” Perspectives on Politics.10(3): 633-46.
Joe Soss, Richard C. Fording, and Sanford F. Schram. 2011. Disciplining the Poor: Neoliberal Paternalism and the Persistent Power of Race. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Pp.176-206.
Class 9. PPPs and NGOs: Global Governance and International Relations [54]
Tanja A. Börzel and Thomas Risse. 2005. Public-Private Partnerships: Effective and Legitimate Tools of International Governance? InE. Grande and L.W. Pauly, eds. Complex Sovereignty: On the Reconstitution of Political Authority in the 21st Century. Univ. of Toronto Press. Pp.195-216.
Klaus Schwab.  2008.  “Global Corporate Citizenship:  Working With Governments and Civil
Society,” Foreign Affairs. 87(1): 107-118.
Ulrika Morth. 2009. “The Market Turn in EU Governance: The Emergence of Public–Private Collaboration” Governance. 22(1): 99-120. 
Class 10. PPPs and the Pursuit of Public Value Governance [56]
Barry Bozeman.  2002.  “Public Value Failure:  When Efficient Markets May Not Do.” Public Administration Review, 62, 2 (March/April), 145-161.
John Benington and Mark H. Moore.  2011.  “Public Value in Complex and Changing Times.” Public Value:  Theory and Practice.  Benington and Moore (eds.).  New York:  Palgrave MacMillan.
Adam J. Dahl and Joe Soss. Forthcoming. “Neoliberalism for the Common Good?Public Value Governance and the Downsizing of Democracy.” Public Administration Review.
Class 11: Comprehensive Review
No Readings.
Last updated on 22-07-2013