The PPP Research Center team comes from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, including business, management, international relations and global governance perspectives. We hold expertise in methodologies as diverse as systems approaches, narrative and network analysis, and longitudinal studies. In addition, we initiate further inter-disciplinary research and teaching projects within and outside the University.

Research activities

Our research activities focus on investigating partnership structures and strategies, as well as developing partnership evaluations and applying systems approaches to PPPs.

1. Partnering strategies

  • Collaborating
  • Coopetition
  • Managing boundaries
  • Sharing responsibilities


2. Partnership structures

  • Configurations
  • Design
  • Power
  • Relationships


3. Systems approaches

Partnerships are essentially a complex intervention in development: the more complex the intervention, the more systems thinking is needed to enable a comprehensive analysis and assessment of a partnership’s system-wide processes and effects. Despite recent enthusiasm for systems thinking in sustainable development, few existing studies explore the relationships and interconnectedness among diverse PPP system elements or other characteristics of complex systems such as non-linearity of effects or time. Our focus on systems builds on existing expertise to embark on an exciting new way of researching and evaluating PPPs.

4. Evaluating partnerships

“What are PPPs accountable for, and to whom?” This is the research question motivating our new line of enquiry. We will combine existing research that extends conventional PPP evaluation (Stadtler, 2015) with a systems approach to offer an innovative and attractive toolkit for evaluating the systemic properties and impacts of PPPs.

Research themes: PPPs for sustainable development

In 2015, the international community adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) identify priority areas for public and private sector activities for development. Partnership is one of the five organising principles for the Goals, and a key means of implementation of the other 16 SDGs (SDG17). There has been enthusiastic uptake of the SDGs (and PPPs) by international organisations, national governments, and the private sector. Thus, the SDGs provide relevant and timely criteria for our case selection. Existing projects focus on SDG-relevant partnerships at sub-national, national and international levels.