Culture Shock in Public-Private Partnerships: Examining P3 from a Cultural Perspective in Hungary
David J Regeczi, University of Twente, Netherlands
Ask for a definition of the word public-private partnership in a room filled with people from different cultures, and their answers may differ remarkably. The American of the group might refer to privatization and contracting out of traditional government services. A Dutch person might think of a network of public and private actors, negotiating to deliver services in unison. A Hungarian may think of completely different consequences, such as opening up government to public actors, helping to strengthen democratic institutions. While some proponents of this form of market governance may present these features of public-private partnerships as a single package, it remains important to understand that the effectiveness and type of public-private partnership will vary according to culture. This has particular implications for the influence of PPP on sustainable development.

This paper will examine the role of public-private partnerships in breaking down hierarchical structures and helping to better achieve sustainable development. It will also examine the role that cultural factors play when exploring the potential advantages and disadvantages of public-private partnerships. It will use Hungary as an example of how culture influences how the government interprets public-private partnerships. With its recent accession to the European Union and the quick transfer to a market-based economy, Hungary has been driven to a style of governance closely related to an American model of the welfare state, one based on neo-liberal principles of economic efficiency. These principles, while they may be effective in a country with a weak tradition of government intervention and strong business interests, can be less effective in a country where local industry is fragile, and there's been a long tradition of some form of corporatist governance.

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