Why the U.S. Needs Public-Private Partnerships for Digital Infrastructure

Vasant Dhar
By Vasant Dhar
The Senate’s proposed infrastructure bill includes billions of dollars for broadband, but financial investment alone won’t be sufficient to keep America on top. It’s critical that legislators go one step further, leveraging public-private partnerships that benefit society at large. 

Similar to investments in the postal service and railways in the early 19th century, building creative public-private partnerships will play a vital role in spurring innovation and building prosperity, not just for Big Tech but for American families. As we’ve seen time and again, markets are great at wealth creation but agnostic about its distribution, so governments need to step up to the plate — and quickly. It is important for the state, society and Big Tech to find the right balance of power that increases the capacity of our state to serve us, our privacy, prosperity, security and liberty.

In their new book, “The Narrow Corridor,” Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson remind us that much of America’s physical infrastructure was built on public-private partnerships. By design, the newly created American state in the early 19th century was a “shackled Leviathan” with very limited capacity to accomplish anything ambitious, so it had to be creative about building state capacity through novel partnerships with markets.

Read the full The Hill article

Vasant Dhar is a Professor of Information Systems at New York University Stern School of Business.