Empirical study of risk assessment and allocation of public-private partnership projects in China

Ping Chuen Chan, John F.Y. Yeung, Calvin C.P. Yu, Shou Qing Wang, Yongjian Ke

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

247 Citations (Scopus)


Earlier research studies on public-private partnership (PPP) indicated that an objective, reliable, and practical risk assessment model for PPP projects and an equitable risk allocation mechanism among different parties are crucial to the successful implementation of these PPP projects. However, actual empirical research works in this research area are limited. This paper reports the first stage of a research study, which aims to identify and assess the principal risks for the delivery of PPP projects in China and to address their proper risk allocation between the private and public sectors. An empirical questionnaire survey was designed to examine the relative importance of different risk factors and to analyze the allocation of risk factors to different parties in PPP projects. A total of 580 questionnaires were sent out, and a total of 105 valid responses were obtained for data analysis. The Mann-Whitney U test is employed to investigate whether significant difference in perception existed first between the private and public sectors and second between industrial practitioners and academics in China. The empirical findings show that the three most important risk factors for PPP projects in China are (1)government intervention; (2)government corruption; and (3)poor public decision-making processes. These findings reveal that the Chinese government intervention and corruption may be the major obstacles to the success of PPP projects in China. A major cause for these risks may be attributed to inefficient legislative and supervisory systems for PPP projects in China. After conducting the Mann-Whitney U test on the 105 survey respondents, the empirical findings indicate that the perceptions of all 34 risk factors in China between the private and public sectors were not significantly different. Similarly, there were no significant differences between academics and industrial practitioners except that the former perceived the problem of government corruption to be more severe than did the latter. For risk allocation, the empirical results indicate that the public and private sectors were in general consensus with most of the risks identified. The major risks that the public sector preferred to accept are within the systematic risk category, especially political, legal, and social risks. The private sector preferred to retain the principal risks within the specific project risk category, especially construction, operation, and relationship risks, in addition to economic risks within systematic risk category. The remaining risk, environment risk, is preferred to be shared between the two sectors. This research study enables international construction companies to better understand how risks should be assessed and allocated for PPP projects in China. It also assists in risk response planning and control for future PPP projects in China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-148
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Management in Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2011


  • China
  • Partnerships
  • Private sector
  • Public-private partnerships (PPP)
  • Risk allocation
  • Risk assessment
  • Risk management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial relations
  • General Engineering
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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