This thesis investigates the influence of accountability mechanisms inside public institutions on trust between public and private partners within the context of public-private partnerships (PPPs) for long-term infrastructure projects in the maintenance phase, with a specific focus on DBFM contracts. Accountability inside public institutions is identified as a form of vertical accountability, hierarchy being its main mechanism, and a perspective on public managers’ felt accountability is adopted. Three types of accountability forums are selected from the literature (organizational, administrative, and political), alongside three trust dimensions (cognition-based, affect-based, and system-based trust). A multiple case study on 8 infrastructure projects managed by Rijkswaterstaat (RWS) is conducted through semi-structured interviews, with the participation of 16 respondents from RWS and private parties. Empirical findings highlight a positive influence of organizational accountability on trust, while a negative impact of administrative accountability on trust is assessed. Results also indicate that accountability and trust mutually influence each other and can coexist under two conditions: (I) trust is already present in the partnership, as it has been developed independently from accountability through other determinants; (II) public managers develop and employ leadership and boundary-spanning skills in managing accountability forums and private partners’ demands. Thus, a bidirectional model between the concepts is introduced, with public managers’ leadership and boundary-spanning skills acting as a moderating variable. The thesis concludes with additional theoretical and methodological reflections, alongside recommendations for future research and practice, aimed at both public and private practitioners.

, , , , , Jasper Eshuis, Dr. Rianne Warsen
Public Administration
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Riccardo Dell’Oste. (2023, January 13). ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRUST IN PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS. Public Administration. Retrieved from