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Social value creation in public-private collaborations

Jens Roehrich's study uncovers the underlying mechanisms for social value creation in public-private collaborations.

Project status




Associate at our Centre for Healthcare Innovation and Improvement, Jens Roehrich, alongside Nigel Caldwell (Heriot-Watt University) and Gerry George (Singapore Management University - SMU), recently published a study uncovering the underlying mechanisms for social value creation in public-private collaborations.

The study was published in one of the leading management journals, Journal of Management Studies, and is freely available via open access.

Governments around the world, but especially in Europe, have increasingly used private sector involvement in developing, financing and providing public health infrastructure and service delivery through public-private partnerships (PPPs).

These public-private collaborations are often difficult to organise because of disparate goals, incentives, and management practices across public and private partners. Some of this misalignment is addressed structurally or contractually, but not the management processes and practices.

The study

In this study, the authors examine how the coordination of these social and work relationships affects task performance and the creation of social value. Social value, in contrast to private value which is mainly captured by the private partner, is value for the community or society at large such as a better healing environment for patients and work environment for nurses and doctors.

The study investigates in-depth two long-term UK healthcare public-private relationships. Data analysis is based on 42 interviews with key stakeholders such as nurses, managers from the public and private partner and from the wider network including banks and consultants. Moreover, interviews were complemented with a rich dataset of over 100 government and private partner reports. This data collection approach ensured that not only the immediate public-private relationships are explored, but also the wider healthcare ecosystem in which the relationships take place.

The authors illustrate the social value creation process in these public-private collaborations. The study uncovers the importance of both public and private partners' need to develop mutual knowledge through, for instance, developing a common professional language and ensuring that public and private partners' goals are aligned. In other words, mutual knowledge and partners' goal alignment is considered to be vital to drive performance of cooperative working. Moreover, the study uncovers the positive effects of the degree of embeddedness of healthcare professionals in these public-private collaborations and its impact on task performance. Lastly, the role of the public and private partners' prior PPP experience and the maturity of the wider PPP ecosystem is explored.

The paper positions a model which brings together all these key elements of importance in public-private collaborations to drive social value creation.

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