This article concerns the equity dimension of partnerships between disadvantaged communities and local governments and private sector firms to provide basic services and amenities. It examines the necessary conditions for fulfilling the expectation that such partnerships can serve the interests of the poor and the critical role of state in intervention to level the playing field for such a partnership. In the context of decentralizing third world governments, the article highlights conceptual inconsistencies underlying public-private partnerships that lead them to deliver results opposite to those they claim. The article points to the ambivalent and even deceptive core of such partnerships that enables their effective operation as a form of privatization, advancing the interests of the private sector and the market under the banner of sharing power with the poor and the state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-101
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Planning Education and Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2004


  • Decentralization
  • Privatization
  • Public-private partnerships
  • State-society relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Urban Studies


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