Some people trust private industry and the free market to solve economic challenges and develop economic opportunities, while others prefer allowing government initiatives to address such issues. The space between these two poles may hold the answer to tackling seemingly insurmountable challenges. Collaborative efforts between the private sector and government bodies, commonly referred to as public-private-partnerships (P3s), may be just the ticket in such cases.

P3s are not a cutting-edge concept. For example, over the past three decades, SEMATECH’s partnerships with the US government and the state of New York have fostered advances in nanotechnology and semiconductors. P3s have gained momentum, perhaps in large part due to their benefits and versatility. Recently, the US and manufacturers have partnered to launch several manufacturing innovation institutes.

Challenges Facing P3s

Of course, implementing and sustaining an effective P3 presents many challenges. P3s require an understanding of capabilities and incentives. Businesses offer dynamic resources; they can usually obtain or reallocate skilled labor, space, equipment, and materials more quickly than a governmental counterpart. But businesses must be properly incentivized to pursue P3s’ goals. Otherwise, like improperly compensated employees, businesses may stray from P3s’ objectives (or worse) in favor of other attractive opportunities.

On the other hand, the government component of a P3 plays an integral but limited role. Public money typically supports P3s to some extent. Additionally, government officials may provide or establish a conduit through which otherwise rival businesses may cooperate. Governments, however, lack the agility and specialized knowledge to efficiently tackle many technical challenges. Because of these intrinsic differences, P3s present a sophisticated approach to achieve incredible synergies and tackle challenges that are too much for a single party. But you don’t have to take my word for it.

More Information

A former Chief Regulatory Officer of the State of Michigan and Chief Operating Officer of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Steve Hilfinger shares his perspective on P3s in “Strength in Numbers.” Published by the Manufacturing Leadership Journal earlier this month, “Strength in Numbers” explains the basics of P3s, how P3s have and will continue to impact the future of manufacturing, and how your company can get involved in P3s.