Cover: Coherence to Choices

Coherence to Choices

Informing Decisions on Public-Private Partnerships in the Space Sector

Published May 3, 2023

by Moon Kim

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The rise of public-private partnerships (PPPs) began in the United States space sector in the early 2000s, as public space agencies sought after creative acquisition strategies under budgetary pressure and private companies emerged in the New Space environment. Theories of PPPs suggest that the procurement arrangement can garner the best of both public and private sectors to create favorable outcomes such as cost savings. Uncritical praise of PPPs prevails in the sector based on optimistic theories. In contrast, literature from the industries that have extensive PPP experiences actively engage in discussion around the effectiveness of PPPs with empirical evidence. The critical debate on the effectiveness of PPPs presents evidence that not all PPPs are successful nor the same. Space policy literature lacks such in-depth discussions despite the political popularity of PPPs. Furthermore, the under-investigation of the topic has led to a lack of tools to better inform decision-makers responsible for architecting acquisition strategies in public space agencies. This dissertation presents the first comprehensive set of research on the topic of space PPPs to move forward from the rudimentary discourse to critical discussions and analytical investigations. The dissertation involves 1) a survey of space sector professionals to inquire the awareness and perception of PPPs in the sector; 2) the development of a PPP typology specific to the space sector that enables the classification of the variants; 3) an expert elicitation to characterize various procurement arrangements using a set of procurement attributes; 4) and a proof-of-concept decision analysis tool to demonstrate the operationalization of procurement arrangements data for enhanced decision-making. The findings of this dissertation contribute to the development of analytical investigations and decision tools to improve the ways in which the space sector understands and employs PPPs for exploring the unknown.

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This document was submitted as a dissertation in March 2023 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in Public Policy Analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Yool Kim (Chair), Brien Alkire, Lauren Mayer, and Scott Pace.

This publication is part of the RAND dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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