Innovations of Public Private Partnerships and future directions for practice and research

Date: 22 November 2016

Venue: UAntwerpen, Stadscampus - Hof Van Liere - Prinsstraat 13 - 2000 Antwerpen (route: UAntwerpen, Stadscampus)

Organization / co-organization: Research group Public Administration & Management

Short description: Seminar

High-Level Dialogue on Innovations of Public Private Partnerships (long term infrastructure contracts) and future directions for practice and research<br>between Dutch and Flemish PPP-practitioners


  • Prof Koen Verhoest (University of Antwerp), Prof Erik-Hans Klijn (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and Geert Dewulf (Universiteit Twente)
  • In cooperation with the Flemish Knowledge Center on PPP, Jean Monet Center of Excellence Actore, Reset management, Twijnstra Gudde, Rebel Group, Deltares,  Movares and Rijkswaterstaat

In the low countries as elsewhere a number of developments result in a call for innovation of Public Private partnership in public infrastructure. Besides successes, many projects have resulted in delays and conflicts. Projects are becoming more and more complex requiring far reaching collaboration across institutional boundaries and domains of expertise. An increasing number of long term infrastructure contracts reach the relatively unexplored phase of exploitation. Local government with a preference for alliance-like arrangements increasingly engage in PPPs. Citizens, users, stakeholders, and local politicians demand involvement. Initiatives of citizens and private companies require governments to take up new roles. Budgeting rules at the EU level remain uncertain.

Perhaps the most notable development is the shift of attention from contractual and financial approaches to the relational and soft dimensions of public private partnership. In the Netherlands, for instance, market parties and government have developed a new so-called ‘New Market vision’ that proposes new ways of collaboration. Instead of the opportunistic behaviour that characterizes principal-agent relationships, parties seek for dialogue, collaboration, co-production and joint-learning, taking into account the required competition in the market. In Flanders, a similar evolution can be detected, stressing the non-financial dimension of added value (innovation, sustainability) of PPP and calling for new rules of engagement among partners. 

For this unique seminar, we invite practitioners from the Netherlands and Flanders to reflect on the challenges they experience in their PPP-practices in public infrastructure and on the innovative responses and smart governance practices that need to be prepared for the future and to go into discussion with 30 high level academics in the field of PPP. Aim is to explore the contours of the new practices and to identify the directions and characteristics that will define future PPP.

The meeting will be informed by and will inform participating practitioners on innovations and how to anticipate them. Participating scientists will enrich the dialogue by putting these challenges in an international perspective, and will be inspired and challenged in formulating new and forward-looking research questions. Some topics to be discussed are:

  • How to implement the shift towards a more trust based collaboration, realizing complementarity between public and private partners, dialogues and joint learning, resulting in coproduction and real partnerships

  • To what extent, under what conditions and in want form will long term infrastructure contracts like Design, Build, Finance Maintain and Operate persist, or be supplemented or replaced by alternative models like alliances, privately led initiatives, or societal partnerships?

  • Will standardization remain the norm or be supplemented or supplanted by a growing need for improvisation and tailor-made solutions? Under what conditions will improvisation, flexibility and tailor-made solutions versus standardization enhance the successes of PPP?

  • Which governance practices will smoothen the transfer of DBFM(O) projects from the phases of preparation and construction towards the exploitation and maintenance?

  • What avenues will public private partnership led by decentral governments take?

  • What new types of partnership are needed to deal with the requirements of a transition towards a sustainable economy, the emergence of innovative service driven initiatives and developments like shared economy? How will more traditional infrastructure focused partnerships relate to them?


Set-up: 40 invited practitioners/opinion leaders from The Netherlands and Belgium in discussion with 30 top academics on PPP from countries like Australia, Canada, USA, UK, China, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland. Main language: English 

Tuesday 22 November afternoon (Hof van Liere)

12.30-13.30: buffet lunch

13.30-13.35: Opening by Chair Geert Dewulf (UT)

13.35-13.45: Welcome address by Joop Koppenjan (EUR)

13.45-14.30: Four pitches (in English) by two Dutch and two Belgian practitioners about current challenges and innovation in PPPs as contractual/collaborative structures

  • dr. ir. Wim Leendertse (Rijkswaterstaat) and Rene de Vos MBA (Exploitatiedirecteur utiliteitsbouw BAM)

  • Mr. ir. Jan Bosschem (CEO of ORI and former CEO/President Board Of Directors of Grontmij) and and Jan Van Steirteghem, (Director Engineering, Besix)

14.30-15.00: Reaction by panel of academics - Erik-Hans Klijn (EURotterdam), Carsten Greve (Copenhagen Business School), Anthony Boardman (Sauder School of Business), Matti Siemyatycki (University of Toronto), Mark Hellowell (University of Edinburgh)

15.00-15.15: Coffee break

15.15-16.15: Discussion tables – parallel mixed discussion groups to discuss challenges and solutions

16.15-17.15: plenary reporting of discussion groups and reaction by mixed panel of pith-givers/academics + listing of future directions for practice and academic research

17.15-17.30: formal closure of the dialogue by Koen Verhoest/Steven Van Garsse (UA)

17.30-18.30: Concluding reception

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