Critical success factors for transfer-operate-transfer urban water supply projects in China

Xianhai Meng*, Qi Zhao, Qiping Shen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Over the years, build-operate-transfer (BOT) has continuously attracted research interests. Many studies on BOT have been carried out. Variations of BOT such as build-own-operate-transfer and build-own-operate have also been reported in some relevant publications. However, few investigations thus far have been conducted for transfer-operate-transfer (TOT). Therefore, there is a knowledge gap in this particular field. TOT is a new model that is suitable for existing infrastructure and public utility projects formerly funded by the governments and currently operated by state-owned enterprises. It refers to the transfer of a running public project to a foreign business or domestic private entity. Based on four case studies carried out in the Chinese water supply industry, this paper examines why there is an increasing need for TOT projects and identifies the distinctive features of TOT practice in China. This is followed by an introduction of a framework of critical success factors (CSFs) for TOT projects. The most important factors include project profitability, asset quality, fair risk allocation, competitive tendering, internal coordination within government, employment of professional advisors, corporate governance, and government supervision. The identification of CSFs provides a useful guidance to project parties planning to participate in TOT practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-251
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Management in Engineering
Issue number4
Early online date15 Sep 2011
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial relations
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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