Public-private partnerships: a collaborative framework for ensuring project sustainable operations

Bingsheng Liu, Junankun Li, Dan Wang, Henry Liu, Guangdong Wu, Jingfeng Yuan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Objective – This study aims to develop a collaborative governance framework (CGF) to systematically investigate the impeding factors (IFs) in terms of the operational sustainability of PPPs. It examines the transmission pattern (i.e., the way in which network members react to each other) of the IFs network.

Method – Literature review and interview were adopted to identify the IFs. Then, with the data collected from the interview in China, the Social Network Analysis and Interpretative Structure Model were synergised to examine the chain reaction, driving and dependent powers, and hierarchical structure of the identified IFs.

Findings – The results reveals that the cognition, institutional, financial and participation aspects are key barriers confronted by PPP sustainability, and the government plays a leading role in controlling factors causing sustainability-related problems in PPPs. Weak government leadership and institutional environment were identified as the most fundamental reasons triggering a chain of IFs, while project governance and management activities act as bridge nodes that play an intermediary role in the IFs network.

Research Limitations/Implications – This research contributes to the literature on PPP governance by (1) bridging the literature gap through the development of CGF for explaining the governance of PPP sustainability with a holistic view that explicitly consider both macro environment and operational project processes; and (2) identifying the transmission pattern of IFs network which uncovers the underlying dynamics causing the unsustainable operation of PPPs.

Practical Implications – This research provides practitioners with a list of key checkpoints for preventing failure escalation, enables decision-makers to prioritise obstacle-mitigation efforts and develop a feasible process to control PPP operation, and offers management countermeasures to remove the key barriers impeding PPP sustainability.

Originality/Value – This study is novel for adopting network-oriented technics to quantify the relative importance of the IFs and examine the transmission patterns of the IFs system. Therefore, it visualises the complex underlying dynamics causing unsustainable PPP operation, identifies root and direct causes of PPP failures, and provides decision-makers with insights into sustaining PPP sustainability from a network-oriented perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalEngineering, Construction and Architectural Management
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2022


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