John Paul

Can Public and Private Sectors Work Together for the Poor?

Whilediscussing examples specific to GMOs and other agriculture technology, this paper addresses the broader question: are public-private partnerships (PPPs) simply a new development fad or apromising approach to achieving advances for the poor?

Thearticle points out that while public-private partnerships are not essential toharnessing new technologies for the poor, private companies tend to have betterequipment and facilities than the public sector, and the private sectorcontrols some important intellectual property. The work will go much faster andthe results will likely be more powerful if the private sector is involved.

The author highlights several factors that can make PPPs successful. It’s helpful for both parties to have a shared goal or interest in a particular outcome, and for the benefits of working together outweigh the costs of conducting and collaborating on the research. In some cases, partnerships benefit from the inclusion of a civil societ organization to increase transparency and legitimacy. Partnerships may also be more effective when they involve locally owned private firms, rather than large multinationals.

Challenges remain. The private sector can be frustrated by the slow pace of decisionmaking and action in the public sector, whereas the public sector sometimes distrusts the motives of those in the private sector. Also, partners must work out the terms of intellectual property rights in advance.

The full article is available here.