Public-Private Partnerships: Improving Urban Life

By Perry Davis | Go to book overview

Partnerships and Public Policy
Advocacy

JAMES P. GIFFORD

In discussing public-private partnerships it is difficult to resist the question of the relationship between doing good and doing well. Julius Rosenwald of Sears-Roebuck said, "You have to be able to do good to do well." 1 But at least in the American political and economic systems it is possible to do well without doing good, and it is possible to do good without doing well. It is also possible to do both. Experience with many public-private partnerships suggests that they generally involve measures of altruism and self-interest. To deny that both factors are at work seems, on the one hand, unduly cynical and, on the other, unusually naive.

Although a growing body of literature confirms the mixed motives of partnerships in general, comparatively little has been written about the public-policyadvocacy roles of partnerships. This essay explores why some partnerships become involved with advocacy and why others choose to avoid it. Although it discusses some basic questions about partnerships in general, it is not a comprehensive, comparative study of a broad cross section of advocacy by partnerships in the United States. Such a study deserves to be made, but this modest effort speaks mainly from the experience of the New York City Partnership, an association of business and civic leaders founded in 1979 under the leadership of David Rockefeller.


Reasons for Partnership Advocacy

Most partnerships of any consequence mount one or more programs designed to bring together the resources of the public and private sectors. Among the more common endeavors are programs devoted to economic development, housing, job creation, and job training. Whatever programs it chooses, a partnership can confine itself to their actual operation. Delivering one or more services is, after all, one of the principal reasons for the creation of partnerships.

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