LKD Facility

Learning and Knowledge Development Facility


Collaborations between public and private actors in promoting sustainable transitions – Maja von Beckerath

There is a lack of academic knowledge concerning mechanisms through which sustainable transitions are promoted. Sustainable transitions in the infrastructure system are key to achieve multiple other SDGs, but the infrastructure development gap is particularly critical in developing countries. Agenda 2030 clearly states the importance of joint action, and it is therefore relevant to investigate how sustainable transitions can be promoted through collaborations between public and private actors. Specifically, it examines how sustainable transitions in the infrastructure system in low-income countries can be promoted. The notion of public-private partnerships (PPPs) was used to describe collaboration, and sociotechnical system (STS) transitions were used to describe transitions.

To examine how PPPs can promote transitions in STS, an Ethiopian case study was conducted. The case used was a technical and vocational school called HDECOVA located in Addis Ababa. A collaborative project between public and private actors. The empirical data was obtained from key actors in the partnership surrounding HDECOVA, both in form of interviews and documents. To analyze the empirical data a theoretical and conceptual framework was synthesized borrowing from theories on STS, PPPs, the holistic transition framework Multi-Level Perspective (MLP) and Principal-Agent Theory. The result showed HDECOVA has affected sustainable transitions in the infrastructure system, mainly through effects on the labor market and the education system. The results showed that the mechanisms, through which HDECOVA has promoted shifts in systems, are mainly scaling up and decreasing skill gaps.

The results suggest that HDECOVA has successfully promoted sustainable transitions by being aligned with identified development challenges in the infrastructure system. On this basis, it can be suggested that PPPs can promote sustainable transitions by affecting regime- and niche levels of the system.


Maja von Beckerath, Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Villavägen 16, SE- 752
36 Uppsala, Sweden