Book Review: Governing Public-Private Partnerships Montreal, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017, pp. 188.

This book provides an approach to studying public-private partnerships (P3s) which holds promise for future academic research and for providing advice to practitioners.  At the core of Newman’s work is his decision to treat P3s as examples of governance (sometimes called networked governance to avoid confusion with the use of the term simply to mean the act of governing). In a policy field characterized by governance, government is one of many partners who have a say in shaping and implementing policy. Government needs to lead the partnership, but cannot too overtly command, if networked arrangements are to succeed. Beginning from that insight, Newman chooses to evaluate two similar P3 projects. These are the transit lines connecting Vancouver, BC, and Sydney, Australia to their respective airports and nearby suburbs.  Vancouver’s Canada Line is often described as a public-policy success. The Sydney Airport Rail Link as a public-policy failure. Can governance failure in the latter case explain the difference in outcomes? Newman makes a strong case that it can.