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Blockchain-enabled smart contracts adoption and implementation framework in long-term infrastructure projects under public-private partnerships (Advert Reference: RDF22/EE/ABE/AMEYAW)


   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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  Dr Ernest Ameyaw  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Many governments have changed their approach from a traditional delivery of providing public infrastructure assets to privately finance, design, build, operate and manage for a concession period of up to 30 years. This delivery model is called public-private partnership (PPP or P3) or Private Finance Initiate (PFI). PPP allows the public sector to use private sector’s capital, technical capabilities and expertise in the supply of public projects. Infrastructure PPP project are implemented over long-term periods; hence, they are characterised by risks and contracts. The PPP theory is founded on the concept of risk allocation through contracts. In fact, appropriate risk transfer to the public sector, via contractual frameworks, often provides the reason to deliver core public infrastructure assets by a PPP procurement. Hence, the basis of a successful infrastructure PPP project is a strong contract. Contracts are the vehicle for tangibly assigning responsibilities for the design, construction, management and operation of the infrastructure asset and distributing risks and rewards for the entire contract term. Contracts facilitate transfer of payments and long-term collaboration between the public and private sectors. However, research shows that contract-related problems are a key driver of PPP failure, including unbalanced risk allocation, weak project/performance monitoring, and poorly designed contracts.   

The advent of Industry 4.0 advanced technologies can significantly benefit infrastructure PPP projects through utilisation of block-chain enabled smart contracts. Historically, the limitations of contracts challenge efficacy of PPP projects, resulting in poor alignment between public sector’s expectations, private consortium performance and contract terms; lack of transparency, trust and cooperation between the public and private sectors; disputes on performance failure charges; opportunism; complex administration of long-term contracts; multiple intermediaries; and renegotiations. The innate properties of blockchain enabled smart contracts (security, immutability, censorship-resistance, and traceability) are advocated to provide enhanced long-term collaboration and greater alignment between the public and private sectors, facilitating transparency in projects and minimising disputes, etc. Advocates of smart contracts agree about their potential benefits and applicability in addressing inefficiencies in (long-term) infrastructure contacts; however, there are unanswered questions regarding why smart contracts are adopted, and what factors drive smart contracts implementation. Particularly, research is yet to explore the application of smart contracts in infrastructure PPPs; the current popularity of smart contract technology is largely based on perceived efficiencies it can bring to construction/infrastructure projects. 

The primary aim of this research is to develop and validate a framework for the successful adoption and implementation of smart contacts enabled by blockchain in infrastructure PPPs. The study will examine why smart contracts can address the above-mentioned limitations of contracts and challenges facing PPPs; and explore the role, and barriers of, smart contracts in enabling automation of long-term operations agreements and processes in PPPs. This study will draw on theories such as the technology acceptance theories, institutional theory, etc. to understand how technology characteristics, individual attributes, and institutional isomorphic pressures influence smart contracts adoption and implementation. This research is valuable to industry and academic; it will provide a validated framework for evaluating smart contracts adoption/implementation activities in long-term infrastructure projects.  

The Principal Supervisor for this project is Dr. Ernest E Ameyaw. 

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

  • Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
  • Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
  • Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere or if they have previously been awarded a PhD.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/research/postgraduate-research-degrees/how-to-apply/ 

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF22/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 18 February 2022

Start Date: 1 October 2022

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff and students. We welcome applications from all members of the community.


Funding Notes

Each studentship supports a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2021/22 full-time study this is £15,609 per year) and full tuition fees. UK and international (including EU) candidates may apply.
Studentships are available for applicants who wish to study on a part-time basis over 5 years (0.6 FTE, stipend £9,365 per year and full tuition fees) in combination with work or personal responsibilities.
Please also read the full funding notes which include advice for international and part-time applicants.

References

Ameyaw, E.E., Chan, A.P.C., Owusu-Manu, D.G., Edwards, D.J. and Dartey, F. (2017) A fuzzy-based evaluation of financial risks in build–own–operate–transfer water supply projects. ASCE Journal of Infrastructure Systems, 23(4), 04017033.
Ameyaw, EE., Owusu-Manu, D. and Chan, A.P.C. (2017) A survey of critical success factors for attracting private sector participation in water supply projects in developing countries. Journal of Facilities Management, 15(1), pp. 35-61.
Ameyaw, E.E. and Chan, A.P.C. (2015) Risk allocation in public-private partnership water supply projects in Ghana. Construction Management and Economics, 33(3), 187-208.
Mazher, K.M., Chan, A.P., Zahoor, H., Khan, M.I. and Ameyaw, E.E. (2018) Fuzzy integral–based risk-assessment approach for public–private partnership infrastructure projects. ASCE Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, 144(12), p.04018111.
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