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Digital archive of theses discussed at the University of Pisa


Thesis etd-01052017-164940

Thesis type
Tesi di dottorato di ricerca
Thesis title
Academic discipline
Course of study
tutor Prof. Anselmi, Luca
  • European Union Public Management
  • Research & Innovation policy
Graduation session start date
The increasing scarcity of public funds, as well as the continued efforts in improving the quality and efficiency of public services, have made the public-private partnership a legal-economic scheme more attractive both for States and for industry stakeholders. Indeed, PPPs, which were developed initially because of the public budgetary constraints, have subsequently proved its suitability in allowing the retrieval of additional resources to those strictly necessary for the basic realization of projects of general interest and to operate efficiencies of the system. From this point of view they can be considered an effect of economic globalization which identifies the increasing costs that systems must support to compete into a competitive economic arena. EU Member State Governments do not seem to longer regard themselves as having a purely national dimension in an internationalized context where every entity is more inclined to act like a market player (1) (Osborne S. P., Public–private partnerships: theory and practice in international perspective, Routledge, London, 2003), nevertheless citizens demand public services with higher quantity and quality despite being willing to pay for them a consistently lower price. As detailed in this work, the European Union does not expressly provides a definition of public-private partnership, indeed all forms relate to the works, services, supplies, shall be "positively" included in the public procurement legislation. In particular, the trend towards establishing PPPs in research & development occurred and increased in various contexts to address market failures and to benefit of different spillover effects. In comparison with other policy instruments pursuing similar goals, this one respond better to the latest trends in research and innovation processes, i.e. increased scientific content of technological development, increasing dependency on external knowledge for innovation generation, changing business R&D strategies (e.g. open innovation) and rapidly evolving social needs (2) (Guinet, J., (2005), ‘Public-Private Partnerships for Research and Innovation. The experience of OECD countries’, Science and Technology Policy Division, OECD, Paris (unpublished paper)). The cases analyzed, both the “JTIs” (Joint Technology Initiatives) and the “cPPPs” (Contractual Public Private Partnerships) constitute absolute specificities in the PPP general domain, first for the intrinsic characteristics of the scientific & technological research (long-term nature of returns and uncertainty of outcomes), secondly because the public operator does not act in order to obtain or provide public goods but for the pursuit of its institutional goals, such as public scientific research. They cannot be considered totally as public-private partnerships at least in terms of positive law, but our cases fall down in the atypical scheme as referred for the first time by the European Commission guidelines in 2003 when the different major categories were outlined involving more or less private sector involvement (3) (DG Regional Policy: guidelines for successful public-private partnerships, March 2003). Moreover, the private component is identified, as in classic ppp cases, not by means of public evidence but on the basis of a political-strategic selection. Original goals of this work is to make a useful reconstruction of all the European Commission PPPs in research & innovation, focusing on the behavior and performance of three cases of contractual PPPs under the framework program FP7 and Horizon 2020 managed by directorate D (Industrial Technologies) of DG Research & Innovation (RTD) in which I have been professionally involved as civil servant for the years 2014 and 2015. Due to the fact that few of the projects funded have not yet been completed and the research outputs are not yet definitive, the analysis has been carried through a qualitative approach obtaining qualitative indicators extrapolated by the previous assessments done by the Commission, primary internal department sources and successful ended projects with high impact results, unstructured interviews. The research objective is to explain their ability to be attractive for the private sector and to be an effective tool to reach the EU policy targets compared to the “no PPP option”, for instance the standard framework programme (FP7 and Horizon 2020). The aspect of the “attractiveness” in particular is missing in the literature of the research PPPs elaborated, therefore this work hopes to give a contribution, even if minimum, to the efforts currently in place in the academic and management community to design and configure and ideal PPP framework for effective interaction between public institutions and market players which shall feed the service of scientific and technological research targets established at European Union policy level.