Innovation within Private Finance Initiative Projects: the influence of governance throughout the first stage of post-contract implementation

  • Ronald Davidson

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The objective of this research is to study street lighting Private Finance Initiative projects to determine how governance systems influence, encourage and sustain innovation in the first and subsequent stages of the project life cycle following contract award. The purpose of such innovation is to achieve further value for money from the investment programme particularly into the later stages of a project.

The research took a six-case qualitative research methodology approach. The empirical findings for the projects in the study show that the governance system for the project is shared and collaborative. Innovation found in the project was not influenced directly through the governance system. Although Schedule 18 of the Private Finance Initiative standard includes innovation as a Network Board responsibility, there is a distinct difference in perception at the project level with the authority managers viewing the projects as improvements whereas the sub-contractor views the projects as bringing innovation to the street lighting systems. This represents an interesting feature specific to Private Finance Initiatives, not previously reported.

The application of Internet of Things technology has brought disruptive change to the management, control and service delivery of the street lighting systems. Exploiting the new technology will bring opportunities to achieve additional benefits in service delivery and further reductions in energy consumption.

Contributions to governance and project management literatures and a proposal that the addition of a governance policy to the leadership and direction within the governance system promotes the creation of an environment, at the project level, to innovate where opportunities arise. A contribution to methodology is also made by using a qualitative data analysis tool to include analysis of the literature corpus.

The background and motivation for the study is presented in the first chapter. The second chapter reviews the innovation literature, considering issues in the governance of innovation and the types of innovation found in these projects. Chapter 3 reviews issues of the Private Finance Initiative, innovation and value for money and Chapter 4, the governance literature. The methodology and methods used in the research is the subject of chapter 5. Chapters 6 to 12 present the case studies from the empirical work and Chapter 13 the findings and discussion. Chapter 14 concludes the research and includes the limitations of the study and proposals for further research.
Date of AwardApr 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
SupervisorTim Brady (Supervisor), Steve Reeve (Supervisor) & Paul Levy (Supervisor)


  • Private Finance Initiative
  • governance
  • innovation
  • case study
  • qualitative research
  • Internet of Things
  • carbon abatement

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