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Frontiers of Engineering Management doi: 10.1007/s42524-023-0249-1

Are public‒private partnerships still an answer for social infrastructure? A systematic literature review

Received:2022-07-30 Accepted: 2023-03-13 Available online:2023-03-13

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Social infrastructure has become an important element for measuring national economic development and social benefits that are usually financed in the form of government grants, private investment, and public‒private partnerships (PPPs). However, social infrastructure PPPs have attracted considerable public debate due to their low profitability and complex operational demands. This study aims to answer the question, “are PPPs still an answer for social infrastructure?”, from the perspectives of the body of knowledge, application status, and prospects. Initially, an iterative search and review procedure and a scientometric analysis were performed to systematically screen the literature and to structure the body of knowledge of the social infrastructure PPPs literature. Furthermore, the application status and trends were analyzed to further explore the studied countries/regions, application sectors, and research topics. Results show that PPPs still have valuable application potential for delivering social infrastructure despite their mixed results across different topics. Six main research themes and the corresponding research trends were also identified, namely, financing and economics viability, risk management, performance management, contract and relationship management, governance and regulation, and facilitating and hindering factors. These findings offer practitioners and researchers a comprehensive overview and constructive guidance on social infrastructure PPPs.

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