- Global Careers
Alan M. Trager is Director of the Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) Initiative at Johns Hopkins SAIS and a Senior Research Professor in the International Development and Energy, Resources and Environment (ERE) Programs at SAIS. He is also an Instructor with the Leadership Academy for Development (LAD); an affiliate of the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at Stanford University. He was previously a member of the faculty and a Senior Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS).
His research, teaching and practitioner interests focus on the use of PPPs to solve complex public policy problems, primarily in emerging markets. At Johns Hopkins University, he is the Principal Investigator for the “Mapping PPPs Across Countries" (China and India) study. He is a member of the Faculty Leadership Committee of the Johns Hopkins Water Institute. He serves as Economic Advisor to the Xicheng District, Beijing. He has served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on its Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (Public-Private Partnerships). In 2008-09, he served as a Commissioner of the New York State Commission on State Asset Maximization.
He works closely with governments, multilateral organizations and multinational corporations on PPP in a variety of large emerging markets. In addition, he participates in PPP symposiums, executive programs and workshops from Ankara to Cape Town and Nairobi to Singapore, Tbilisi and Beijing. Most recently, he was the Keynote Speaker at the State Department’s Innovations in Public-Private Partnerships meeting in Washington. He has been a guest lecturer at the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program in Ho Chi Minh City, at MIT Sloan (Business of Water in Asia) and numerous conferences at Harvard. In 2014, he was the co-organizer and a speaker at the Johns Hopkins Water Symposium. He has studied water in Singapore, Israel, the Netherlands, India and China. His teaching interests in water are tied to both economic development and public health.
Early in his career, he founded and chaired AMT Capital Management, a private investment firm, and created ventures for Morgan Stanley, where he was a Managing Director. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, he was Manager of Planning for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. Early in his career, he worked for the mayors of New Haven, Boston and New York City, and was a VISTA Volunteer in Texas. He holds an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School.
“[A] partnership is a collaboration among business, non-profit organizations, and government in which risks, resources, and skills are shared in projects that benefit each partner as well as the community.”
–Stratton (1989) Mechanisms for Job Creation OECD
My definition of PPP involves a slight alteration to Stratton’s: a sharing of risks, resources, and decisions. Importantly, creating a successful PPP frequently comes down to resources and interests. Key features include:
Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are increasingly being used to find solutions for complex public policy problems. Under the leadership of Professor Alan Trager, PPPs will be studied, developed, and applied in several ways:
In the past few years, the PPP Course and the PPP Study Group have been associated with economic development–focused PPPs initiated by students. For example, Professor Trager has served as advisor to Pathways Center for Education and Entrepreneurship in Pazardzhik, Bulgaria. Pathways was created by a PPP alumnus, Angel Kelchev (Harvard MPA 2011) and was supported by USAID, to provide educational training programs to Bulgarian students in order to give them a professional edge and motivate them to contribute to their country’s economic growth. We hope to expand opportunities for student involvement in Pathways with a recent expansion in Sofia.
A new economic development partnership, the China Impact Fund (CIF), has been co-founded by Tao Zhang (Harvard MPA 2010). Professor Trager also advises CIF, and would like to involve students in this project.
In the spring of 2012, six PPP students participated in a research project commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to explore models for public-charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. Students performed valuable stakeholder analysis, including interviewing potential partners, developing two business models, and presenting findings to senior Department of Energy officials. A different student-led effort focused on an overview of China’s electric vehicle market.
Over the past several years, the PPP Course and related initiatives worked in an Eli Lilly supported Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis Partnership (MDR-TB). This work, originally started in the classroom, led to a case study and then to a student team analysis of the MDR-TB Partnership in China. The Eli Lilly Foundation has recently awarded a research grant to SAIS for a project on “Mapping Health Care PPPs in India and China.“ Professor Trager will direct the project, to be staffed by student research assistants (see Student Opportunities).
In addition, Abbott Laboratories supports student research on health care partnership ideas in Brazil, Mexico, Canada, and several other emerging markets. The first Abbott research internship was in China, studying elderly care infrastructure issues (See “Mind Your Elders”).
The supply of and demand for water is a complex and vital global public policy issue, particularly in developing economies, and the need for creative and cost-effective solutions to the world’s water problems will only increase. Water-related assets include storage, distribution, treatment, measurement, pricing, and use (agriculture, residential, industrial). Each component may be controlled by a variety of public and private owners/operators. How the parties who control water resources will be aligned will determine the groups served, prices charged, quality, and quantities. PPP students will be able to intellectually engage in this topic and propose ideas for public-private partnerships that focus on this complex policy issue. Research and engagement will focus on infrastructure; water as an asset class; and partnerships with corporations, governments, and think tanks. Water Asset Management, a New York investment firm, works with the class.
On February 26, 2014, the Johns Hopkins Water Institute and Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) held a water symposium, “Water The Essential Link to Sustainable Development.” The event was an excellent example of interdisciplinary collaboration between Johns Hopkins Water Institute and Johns Hopkins University-SAIS. To learn more, view a program of the symposium and participant bios. Professor Trager’s individual presentation on "Public-Private Partnerships to Develop Water Resources" can be reviewed here.
Internships and research projects for actual companies and government agencies offer potential for deeper and more practical learning for PPP students. We benefit from a network of organizations engaged in partnership work and eager for contributions from participating students. Summarized below is a selection of organizations that have sponsored student projects in the past.
Abbott is a global, broad-based health care company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture, and marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical products, including nutritionals, devices, and diagnostics. The company employs approximately 91,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries.
The PPP Course has established a donor relationship with Abbott, run by Samuel Ang (Harvard MPA 2006) that funds student stipends in projects demanding proposal writing and in-depth research on country-level health care policy problems. During 2012, the first internship was in Beijing, and focused on elderly care. In 2013, three students were assigned to projects in Sao Paulo, Mexico City, and Toronto.
Eli Lilly and Company, a leading innovation-driven company, is developing a growing portfolio of pharmaceutical products by applying the latest research from its own worldwide laboratories and from collaborations with eminent scientific organizations. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, Lilly provides answers―through medicines and information―for some of the world's most urgent medical needs. Past PPP participants have contributed to research and writing of case studies on Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis Partnership (MDR-TB) in China as well as stakeholder analysis and past summer internships at the company’s branches in China.
USAID is the principal U.S. agency to extend assistance to countries recovering from disaster, trying to escape poverty, and engaging in democratic reforms. With substantial funding from USAID, PPP member Angel Kelchev created the Pathways Center for Education and Entrepreneurship in Pazardzhik, Bulgaria. This public-private partnership delivers high-quality computer science, English language, and entrepreneurship training to Bulgarian youth.
China Impact Fund (CIF) is China's first impact fund that specializes in financing and accelerating small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by providing environmentally friendly products and services as well as start-up companies with an environmental value proposition for the country's Base of Pyramid (BoP) population, primarily those in sustainable land use, clean energy, and water access.
New and innovative SMEs are helping China solve critical environmental problems, create jobs, and provide investors with solid financial returns. Environmentally focused entrepreneurs are receiving needed investment and key assistance in transforming their ideas into successful, growing companies that are helping to reduce pollution, increase clean energy, protect biodiversity, and improve the quality of life. This ecosystem must see a higher volume and better quality of environmental business being launched and scaled than is seen today, and make the appropriate forms of impact capital available at each stage of venture development. In return, these successful SMEs will not only serve as environmental, social, and commercial role model companies to their peers all over the country, but also be leveraged by government agencies and policy makers as best practices to guide and inform their relevant incentive policies for the nation’s SMEs. CIF is determined to play the leadership and trailblazer role in building such an impact ecosystem and making the vision a reality.