Examining the Structuration Processes in the Financial Accountability and Governance Practices Pertaining to the Public Private Joint Venture Partnerships (LIFT) in the UK Health Sector

  • Cletus Agyenim-Boateng

Student thesis: Phd


AbstractShaoul et al. (2012) state that the accounting, scrutiny and oversight of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) remain areas of concern. Also, there have been calls for a more socio-technical and multidisciplinary approach to accounting and governance studies (Broadbent, 2012; Broadbent and Guthrie 2008), especially in relation to the empirical study of PPPs (Hodge et al., 2010). This thesis responds to these calls in part by drawing on Giddens' structuration theory to examine the financial accountability and governance concerns that are created in PPP joint venture structures. The empirical work focuses on the health sector, which is identified as one of the sectors inundated by PPP activities, particularly in the UK (Treasury, 2012; Whitfield, 2010). It adopts a case study approach, based on qualitative methodology, which involves documentary analysis of secondary data and interviews in relation to two PPP schemes under the Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT) scheme in the UK's health sector.The thesis investigates: the extent to which the corporate structures of the LIFT scheme do complicate financial accountability and governance including external scrutiny; the extent to which the LIFT scheme does enhance partnership working between the public and private sector partners; the structures in financial accountability and governance in the LIFT scheme; the human agents that provide agency in financial accountability and governance in the LIFT scheme and; whether and in what ways structures and human agency in financial accountability and governance interact in the LIFT scheme and what the implications are.The thesis finds firstly that the complex corporate structure of the LIFT scheme is very complicated and the joint venture mechanism cannot be relied upon to deliver transparency of reporting. Secondly, as limited companies, all financial reporting follows private sector accounting regulations and Company Law and there is minimal disclosure in terms of information available to the general public. This is worsened by lack of information sharing between partners as evidenced in one case study group. Thirdly, there was considerable inconsistency in the reporting due to multiplicity of interpretive schemas between the two case study groups. Fourthly, there was considerable change in the reporting due both to changes in accounting regulations and changes in organisational structure and interpretive schemas throughout the period. Fifthly, there is lack of continuity of public sector oversight and monitoring as the public sector, in practice, restricts its activities to pre-operational phase and limited oversight after construction phases. Moreover, partnership working is very difficult in the context of profit seeking under the LIFT structure. Partnership working and success of the LIFT scheme may depend on trust, key personalities working together as well as leadership. From the structuration perspective, the study finds structural contradictions and conflicts of interests in financial accountability and governance practices. Therefore, transparency, public accountability, oversight and scrutiny are necessarily undermined and, policy makers should pay attention to not only the private sector technologies but also the manner in which they are used to benefit finance capital.
Date of Award1 Aug 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAnne Stafford (Supervisor) & Pamela Stapleton (Supervisor)


  • Public Sector, Accounting, Accountability, Corporate Governance, Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), Joint Venture Partnerships, Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT), Financialisation, Neo-liberalism, Giddens’ Structuration Theory

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