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Understanding absences and ambiguities of Post-decision Project Evaluation in the UK's PPPs: drawing from the sociology of ignorance

Shu, Xia; Smyth, Stewart; Haslam, Jim

Understanding absences and ambiguities of Post-decision Project Evaluation in the UK's PPPs: drawing from the sociology of ignorance Thumbnail


Authors

Xia Shu

Stewart Smyth



Abstract

Purpose - We explore the under-researched area of post-decision evaluation in PPPs (Public Private Partnerships), focusing upon how and whether Post-decision Project Evaluation (PdPE) is considered and provided for in UK public infrastructure projects.

Design/methodology/approach – Our research design sought insights from overviewing UK PPP planning and more focused exploration of PPP operational practice. We combine extensive analysis of planning documents for operational UK PPP projects with interviews of different stakeholders in PPP projects in one city. Mobilising an open critical perspective, documents were analysed over a period using ethnographic content analysis and interviews were analysed using thematic analysis consistent therewith. We theorise absence and ambiguities of PdPE drawing on the sociology of ignorance.

Findings – We find a long-standing absence or lack of PdPE in PPP projects throughout planning and operational practice, reflecting a dynamic, multi-faceted ignorance. Concerning planning practice, our documentary analysis evidences a trend in PdPE from its absence in the early years (which may indicate some natural or genuine ignorance) to different levels or forms of weak inclusion later. Regarding this inclusion, we find strategic ignorance played a substantive role, involving “deliberate engineering” by both public sector and private partners. Interview findings indicate a lack of clarity over PdPE and its under-development in PPP practice, deficiencies again suggestive of natural and strategic ignorance.

Originality/value – We draw from the sociology of ignorance vis-à-vis accounting’s absence and ambiguity in the context of PPP, contributing to an under-researched area.

Citation

Shu, X., Smyth, S., & Haslam, J. (2023). Understanding absences and ambiguities of Post-decision Project Evaluation in the UK's PPPs: drawing from the sociology of ignorance. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, https://doi.org/10.1108/aaaj-03-2020-4451

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 15, 2023
Online Publication Date Jun 16, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Aug 17, 2023
Publicly Available Date Aug 17, 2023
Journal Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Print ISSN 0951-3574
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
DOI https://doi.org/10.1108/aaaj-03-2020-4451
Keywords Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous); Accounting
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1720262

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http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

Copyright Statement
This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please visit Marketplace






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