An evaluation of public capabilities for PPP management in Flanders: a dynamic capabilities approach

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)


While the interest in the PPP market continues to grow, it is becoming clear that experienced partners and a well-balanced project team are crucial for the success of PPPs. Several experts and some recent PPP cases in Flanders point at a potential weakening in the position of the public partner in PPP management as from the bidding procedure onwards. In this paper, we analyze the public partner's ability to manage PPP projects within the different stages of project development. We apply the strategic management concept of dynamic capabilities to analyze the current strength of PPP management from the public sector's perspective, building on the 3 pillars adaptive capabilities, absorptive capabilities and innovation capabilities. Based on an extensive survey of public managers involved in PPP in Flanders and abroad, we analyze the current Flemish public management capabilities for PPP projects.

We survey, using an elaborate semi-structured questionnaire, middle and senior managers from the public sector responsible for the management of PPP projects in Flanders and in other industrialized countries with moderate to high PPP experience. We compare the Flemish results to those of several Anglo-Saxon as well as European mainland countries. For the specific case of the Flemish regional government in Belgium, we apply our results and suggest, based on additional in-depth interviews, a model for enhancing the Flemish public governance capabilities for PPPs. As such, a mixed method approach is used to test the dynamic capability model, to analyze the component factors of dynamic capabilities of public managers in Flemish PPPs and to suggest improvements to capacity building.

Our findings indicate a failing absorptive capacity of public management in Flemish PPPs due to the lack of incentives to retain high potentials and to build experienced and integrated cross-functional teams as catalysts of knowledge transfer processes. This seriously impacts leadership and trust as enablers of dynamic capabilities. Our findings also indicate how dynamic capabilities can benefit from boundary-spanning linkages within and among public managers in Flanders.

Implications for Research/Policy:
A lack of knowledge transfer and capacity building at the public partner's side of PPP projects potentially endangers the future implementation of PPP projects in Flanders. Further research will have to address the outcome of a new dynamic capability model for public managers in PPPs, also in the context of rapidly changing stakeholder environments, as well as how individuals in the public organisations contribute to strategy and how these organisations can actually manage new strategic approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPPP Conference 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventUnknown -
Duration: 1 Jan 2013 → …


Period1/01/13 → …


  • dynamic capabilities, public-private partnerships


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