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Centre for Financial and Management Studies (CeFiMS)

Privatisation and Public-Private Partnerships

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After a wave of privatisations in western and eastern Europe, with a later series of privatisations in Africa and Asia, governments are now faced with decisions about what to do with remaining state owned enterprises and public services. Options include privitisation by trade sale or public offering, contracting out, use of voluntary agencies, public private partnerships to finance public service infrastructure and innovative forms of ownership. This course is designed to help people making and advising on these decisions.

The course is based on theory and practical application through case studies of privatisation and other alternatives throughout the world, ranging from examples of obvious failure such as the railways in the United Kingdom to apparent successes such as Kenya Airways. The emphasis of the course is on critical analysis of the alternatives.


Study Guide

You will receive a looseleaf binder containing eight units. The units are carefully structured to provide the main teaching, defining and exploring the main concepts and issues, locating these within current debate and introducing and linking the further assigned readings. The unit files are also available to download from the Virtual Learning Environment.


Grimsey, Darrin. and Mervyn K. Lewis (2007) Public-Private Partnerships Cheltenham: Edward Elgar

Berthélemy, Jean-Claude, Céline Kauffmann, Marie-Anne Valfort and Lucia Wegner (2004)Privatisation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Where Do We Stand? Development Centre Studies, OECD

OECD (2003) Privatising State-owned Enterprises, An Overview of Policies and Practices in OECD Countries, OECD


You will receive three volumes of Readings, which are a compilation of case studies and recently published articles or seminal writings specifically chosen to augment and illustrate the main text.

Virtual Learning Environment

You will have access to the VLE, which is a web-accessed learning environment. Via the VLE, you can communicate with your assigned academic tutor, administrators and other students on the module using discussion forums. The VLE also provides access to the module Study Guide and assignments, as well as a selection of electronic journals available on the University of London Online Library.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

When you have completed this course, you will be able to:

  • Discuss the variety of experiences of privatisation in a wide range of sectors and countries
  • Judge the desirability of privatisation in different circumstances
  • Advise on appropriate methods of privatisation for different policy objectives
  • Evaluate the results of privatisation
  • Advise on contractual arrangements between governments and private and voluntary sector service providers
  • Explain public-private partnerships (PPPs), how they can be organised to produce value for money and the potential pitfalls
  • Make a judgement on the future of the relationship between the public and private sectors.

Scope and syllabus

Unit 1: Introduction to Privatisation in the OECD Countries
  • 1.1 Introduction
  • 1.2 Why Privatise?
  • 1.3 Scale and Methods of Privatisation in OECD Countries
  • 1.4 Privatisation in Mozambique
  • 1.5 Conclusions
Unit 2: Scale and Methods of Privatisation in Africa, Latin America and Asia
  • 2.1 Privatisation in non-OECD countries: an overview
  • 2.2 Latin America
  • 2.3 Sub-Saharan Africa
  • 2.4 Asia
  • 2.5 Conditionality and Privatisation
  • 2.6 Rwanda – a Case Study
  • 2.7 Conclusions
Unit 3: Impact of Privatisation
  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.2 A report on the impact of privatisation in Africa
  • 3.3 Privatisation impact on performance
  • 3.4 Privatisation impact on employment
  • 3.5 A World Bank View
  • 3.6 Conclusions
Unit 4: Case Studies in Privatisation
  • 4.1 Introduction
  • 4.2 Case 1: Privatisation of British Rail in the United Kingdom
  • 4.3 Case 2: Kenya Airways
  • 4.4 Case 3: Township and Village Enterprises in China
  • 4.5 Case 4: City Water Tanzania
  • 4.6 Conclusions
  • 4.7 Feedback on the Case Studies
Unit 5: Outsourcing, Contracting and Competition
  • 5.1 The Argument and Counter-Arguments for Contracting out Public Services
  • 5.2 New Institutional Economics
  • 5.3 Solutions to 'Bounded Rationality'
  • 5.4 Obligational and Adversarial Contracting
  • 5.5 Conditions for Contracting
  • 5.6 Conclusions
Unit 6: Case Studies in Procurement
  • 6.1 Case Study 1: Contracting Not-For-Profit Organisations for Delivery of Health Services in Western Australia
  • 6.2 Case Study 2: Buying Nuclear Submarines
  • 6.3 Case Study 3: United Kingdom Government IT Projects
  • 6.4 Feedback on the Case Studies
  • 6.5 Conclusions
Unit 7: Public-Private Partnerships: Principles
  • 7.1 Introduction to PPPs
  • 7.2 Critique of PPPs
  • 7.3 Issues in Public-Private Partnerships
  • 7.4 Conclusions
Unit 8: Public-Private Partnerships: Cases and Conclusions
  • 8.1 Case Study Preparation
  • 8.2 Case Study 1: Hospital Building in the United Kingdom
  • 8.3 Case Study 2: Prisons in the United Kingdom
  • 8.4 Case Study 3: Prison Contracts in South Africa
  • 8.5 Eight Rules for Governments
  • 8.6 Privatisation: the End of a Trend?
  • 8.7 Reversibility?
  • 8.8 Conclusions
  • 8.9 Feedback on Case Studies

Method of assessment

Students are individually assigned an academic tutor for the duration of the module, with whom you can discuss academic queries at regular intervals during the study session.

You are required to complete two Assignments for this module, which will be marked by your tutor. Assignments are each worth 15% of your total mark. You will be expected to submit your first assignment by the Tuesday of Week 5, and the second assignment at the end of the module, on the Tuesday after Week 8. Assignments are submitted and feedback given online. In addition, queries and problems can be answered through the Virtual Learning Environment.

You will also sit a three-hour examination on a specified date in September/October, worth 70% of your total mark. An up-to-date timetable of examinations is published on the website in April each year.