The term “public-private partnerships” has frequently appeared in the media and in the economic development literature in recent years. As an institutional approach, however, public-private partnerships have a long history in local economic development policy. With the structural change of the economy in the developed countries and the development of economic globalization in the last two decades, urban regions have been forced to use a wide variety of incentives to compete for mobile capital and high quality labor.
In the United States, urban economic development activities have increased since the 1980s; at the same time, the composition and focus of public-private partnerships in urban economic development also increased. Public-private partnerships have also developed in other countries. It is of great interest for both academics and practitioners to investigate the general trends and causes of public-private partnerships in urban economic development. However, what constitutes a public-private partnership is not clear in the literature.