PhD Position: Examining the Role of NGOs in Public-Private Partnerships

Deadline: 26 February 2018
Open to: candidates with good Masters degree in a relevant subject and a specific interest in shifting development discourses and practices, including those bearing on essential service provision
Scholarship: will cover studentship for 3 years


This project aims to develop a comparative analysis of the implications of NGO involvement within the PPP nexus bearing on the delivery of essential services (housing, health and education), with particular attention to intersections of gender, poverty and ethnicity in their policies and practices.
It seeks to do this by developing a typology and examine the role of NGOs in PPPs in three sectors – health, education and housing in selected countries.
This entails:
  • to map NGOs working across housing, education and health at local, national and international levels;
  • to select 3 NGOs for comparative case study;
  • to conduct an in-depth qualitative case study analysis of their engagement with PPPs, paying particular attention to the rationales developed, the flows of money, skills and information, the form and substance of organisational relationship and decision making, and the ways in which aspects of social division – gender, poverty, ethnicity – affect their policies and practices.
The study will investigate interactions of PPPs and NGOs across health, education and housing. These three sectors are integral to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and each has seen the rise of PPPs and the deployment of NGOs as partners within such mechanisms of (social and economic) infrastructure provisioning. This has led to growing concerns around the narrowing of the development agenda as well as prospects for contestation of neoliberalism (in practice as compared to advocacy – with NGOs now increasingly caught in the dilemma of exercising their separate roles of service delivery versus advocacy). It raises questions about the ability of smaller NGOs, particularly those with a more ‘radical’ agenda to respond to the requirements of a PPP. There is also little understanding regarding how the changing role of NGOs in changing governance arrangements of public service delivery, including through PPPs, affects their policies and practices around gender, poverty and ethnicity.


Candidate requirements:

  • The candidate should have a good Masters degree in a relevant subject and a specific interest in shifting development discourses and practices, including those bearing on essential service provision.


  • The studentship is for a duration of 3 years and will cover course fees (at the usual level for UK and EU studentships) and a student stipend;
  • Applicants from non-EU countries may apply for this project but will be required to meet the additional costs of overseas fees from other sources.

How to apply?

Candidates wishing to apply for this fully funded three-year, full-time Ph.D. studentship starting September 2018 must complete both an admission: application and a studentship application.

These are separate processes.

STEP 1: Admissions Application

  • Apply for one of the Economics: Research Degrees using SOAS’s online admissions form. Further information and the ‘Apply Online’ link are available here;
  • Applicants must submit a complete online application for admission as soon as possible and no later than the studentship deadline (17:00 UK time, Monday 26 February 2018).
  • Further guidance for applying for admission to the MPhil/ Ph.D. programme and documents you need to submit is available here .
*IMPORTANT: Please state in the admissions application that you wish to be considered for the Bloomsbury Colleges Ph.D. Studentship, use the title of the studentship (project title: Examining the role of NGOs in Public-Private Partnerships. A comparative approach across housing, education and health) as your Research Proposal Title and state Dr. Elisa Van Waeyenberge as your Proposed Supervisor.
Use your Supporting Statement to explain why you are motivated to apply for this particular project, and what skills and experience you will bring to the project. In your 2,000-word Research Proposal please respond to the project description and elaborate on how you would approach the project theoretically and methodologically based on your previous academic training and experience.
STEP 2: Studentship Application
Apply for the Bloomsbury Colleges Studentship by completing and submitting the application form
to by no later than Monday, 26 February 2018 (17:00 UK time). Queries about the application process should be sent to: