The many outcomes from contracting out: The voice of public managers

Andrej Christian Lindholst, Morten Balle Hansen, Thomas Barfoed Randrup, Bengt Persson, Anders Kristoffersson

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Abstract

This paper argues that adopting a stakeholder approach to the study of contracting outcomes produces more rich and rounded representations of the realities of the contracting out of public services. We revisit the research on contracting outcomes, highlighting the public manager perspective as key for gaining deeper, more detailed insights. The public manager perspective is explored in an inductive analysis of answers to open-ended survey questions collected from public managers with contracting experience within the context of municipal park management in Scandinavia. The emerging managerial perspective is summarized in a best-case, worst-case and complex-case scenario highlighting the mix, complexities and trade-offs in a composite set of contracting outcomes. The nature of contracting outcomes as complex and composite rather than unidimensional and clear-cut is one key finding. Furthermore, the importance of some specific outcomes (e.g. learning) complements existing research themes. Our findings sustain the initial argument, demonstrating how the stakeholder approach can produce new insights. A key implication is that future research can benefit from assessing contracting outcomes by providing voice to multiple stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Politics and Space
Volume36
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1046–1067
Number of pages22
ISSN0263-774X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018

Keywords

  • Contracting out
  • Outcomes
  • Scandinavia
  • Local governments
  • park services

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