This paper analyzes whether the two tasks of building infrastructures which are socially useful in providing public services and managing these assets should be bundled or not. When performance contracts can be written, both tasks should be performed altogether by the same firm if a better design of the infrastructure helps also to save on operating costs. Otherwise, tasks should be kept apart and undertaken by different units. In incomplete contracting environments we isolate conditions under which either the traditional form of public provision of services or the more fashionable public–private partnership emerges optimally. The latter dominates when there is a positive externality and the private benefits from owning assets are small enough. Finally, we take a political economy perspective and study how incentive schemes are modified under the threat of capture of the decision-makers. Much of the gains from bundling may be lost in this case.
MARTIMORT, D. and POUYET, J. (2008). To Build or Not To Build: Normative and Positive Theories of Public-Private Partnerships. International Journal of Industrial Organization, 26(2), pp. 393-411.