Collaboration is working together to achieve a goal. Organizations enter into collaborative agreements to achieve their own goals, negotiating among competing interests and brokering coalitions among competing value systems, expectations and self-interested motivations.
In an effort to improve the management of the public sector, public administration has recognized the value and virtue of partnerships among the various sectors, cooperating with different actors in the private and civil society sectors at the local, national, regional and global levels to stimulate experience, knowledge, skills and to utilize resources to effectively respond to public needs. Thus, partnerships constitute a major element in the process of giving new life to public administration.
While the role of public sector in the delivery of public service remains indispensable, it is now recognized that both the private and civil sectors have their distinct and mutually respective spheres of interest and activities. Each sector alone cannot be relied upon to deliver all developmental needs nor can it guarantee cost-effectiveness in the delivery of social services.
Establishing a strategic framework and finding the right role within which the partnership is dedicated to the common goals of growth, quality, cost-effectiveness and equity are equally critical.
Malaysia embarked on public–private sector collaboration in 1983 with the implementation of the Malaysia Incorporated Policy.
The private sector is the engine of economic growth, while the public sector is responsible for drawing up the working framework for major policies and providing the direction for the private sector to carry out its responsibilities effectively.
The success of the private sector translates into increased profits. Increased government revenues means that the public sector will be able to finance more socio-economic development projects for the good of the nation.
Public-private collaboration aims to enhance public service performance through privatization, “corporatization,” decentralization, contracting out, and commercialization.
However, this also raises the concern of political accountability of public services.
As more responsibilities and functions are delegated to independent and private business bodies, it becomes important that these privately run bodies, rather than the central government, be made answerable for their policies and decisions to elected politicians and legislatures.
Increasing public-private partnership through privatization and “corporatization” without a proper system of accountability leads to another concern.
As more decisions on public policies are made by corporate and private bodies, the general public and elected politicians may not accept these policies, believing that the government is retreating from its commitment and responsibility.
There is a concern that the government intends to shed its social commitment and to shift social responsibility to the private sector and corporate bodies.
A more serious worry is that the private sector and corporate bodies may not invite public participation in the decision-making process.
Elected politicians and ordinary citizens are not involved in business board meetings that may make important decisions regarding public policies.
As a result, recognition and acceptance of these policies among the general public may be low.
Further, these private and corporate bodies are not subject to close scrutiny, neither by the government nor the legislative branch of our nation.
Consequently, both the public policies and the government may be subject to a crisis of legitimacy.