What is a P-4?

P-4: Public, Private, Plural Partnership – a concept by Dr. Henry Mintzberg.

McGill University professor Henry Mintzberg is an original thinker on management theory and organizational structure.  In his book Rebalancing Society, he proposes a modification to the Public, Private Partnership (P-3) model that adds the Plural sector, which includes non-government organizations and cooperatives.

He argues that the P-4 model is more effective in tackling social issues because it involves all the community’s members, thereby restoring balance to society.

We will make no headway with climate change until we rebalance our societies.

– Dr. Henry Mintzberg, RebalancingSociety.org 

Dr. Mintzberg’s book Rebalancing Society is available as a free, downloadable PDF on his web site.

From Dr. Henry Mintzberg.  Rebalancing Society.org

To read Mintzberg’s own words about P-4s, view this article on his blog:  Organizations around Public, Private, Plural or read his book Rebalancing Society.


OpenAI’s ChatGPT language model provided the following description of P-4s and their benefits.

Mintzberg’s concept of Public, Private, Plural (PPP) partnership refers to a collaborative approach to addressing social issues or pursuing common goals that involves the active participation of three different sectors: public, private, and plural.

The public sector includes government institutions and agencies responsible for providing public services, while the private sector comprises businesses and corporations driven by profit motives. The plural sector, on the other hand, consists of non-profit organizations, community groups, and other civil society actors that are typically driven by social or environmental objectives.

According to Mintzberg, PPP partnerships leverage the unique strengths and capabilities of each sector to achieve collective goals that would be challenging to achieve individually. In this model, the public sector provides governance, regulatory oversight, and policy frameworks, the private sector brings in resources, expertise, and innovation, while the plural sector provides community engagement, social and environmental awareness, and stakeholder representation.Mintzberg emphasizes that successful PPP partnerships require mutual respect, trust, and collaboration among the three sectors, as well as a shared commitment to achieving measurable and meaningful social outcomes.