The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction


Daan Vermeer

Collective learning in strategic Public Private Partnership (PPP) procurement systems for social infrastructure

School Research Theme: Strategic Management of Projects; Infrastructure Investment and Finance
Research supervisors: Prof Andrew Edkins; Prof Dejan Mumovic 
Start date: September 2010

Since 2010, at the heart of the Global Financial Crisis, several public policies became subject to critical scrutiny by UK’s coalition and Conservative Party governments: the effectiveness of complex strategic Public Private Partnership (PPP) procurement systems, and the delivery of whole-life Value for Money and Environmental Sustainability of social infrastructure assets. Research in these areas is significant because the use of strategic PPP investment vehicles in delivering portfolios of social infrastructure is a relatively new phenomenon, both in the UK and globally.

The work comprises a critical evaluation of strategic procurement systems for delivering social infrastructure, called Local Education Partnerships (LEP), as part of the highly ambitious Building Schools for the Future programme in England that commenced in 2003 and was summarily cancelled in 2010.

This research examines a perceived lack of clarity regarding the systemic way in which organizations involved in strategic partnerships in construction can learn collectively and how this effects their performance. For that reason, a conceptual learning framework called the “Asset Value Enhancement Model” (AVEM) is introduced and discussed using elements of systems thinking, continuous improvement and Total Quality Management. It embeds collective learning over time by key participants involved in a long-term PPP, as the underlying assets travel through their lifecycle. The circular nature of AVEM calls for joint commitment, shared culture and aligned communication to cultivate ongoing value to the public and steady returns to the private sector, beyond merely project specific improvement.

Using a mixed method, comprising of both quantitative and qualitative elements, the research explores how organizations involved in LEPs arrange themselves and learn collectively to deliver a portfolio of schools, and meet key contracted criteria for whole-life Value for Money and Environmental Sustainability. Based on the analyses using the AVEM, learning collectively shows to be a crucial factor for performance improvement.

Publications and other work