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Public-private partnerships have a long history in American cities, and since the early 1970s, they have become increasingly important to urban policy making in both the United States and other capitalist democracies. A variety of factors explain the salience of public-private partnerships: the limited fiscal, technical, and bureaucratic resources of American local governments; the American progressive reform tradition with its emphasis on governing arrangements insulated from political control; business political power; national government policies of devolution and privatization; and a widespread belief in the superiority of markets over governments. Recently, public-private partnerships have been advocated as strategies to enhance both the civic engagement and policy coordination essential for more representative and effective urban governance.

Urban policy analysts and scholars employ the term public-private partnership to encompass ...

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