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How privatization affects public service quality: an empirical analysis of prisons in England and Wales, 1998-2012

Alonso, José M. and Andrews, Rhys William 2016. How privatization affects public service quality: an empirical analysis of prisons in England and Wales, 1998-2012. International Public Management Journal 19 (2) , pp. 235-263. 10.1080/10967494.2015.1048913

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Abstract

The impact of privatization on public service quality is an enduring issue in public policy and management. Advocates of privatization suggest that market forces prompt private firms to provide better quality services, while opponents point towards the potential for quality to be traded off against profits. Drawing on incomplete contract and capability theories, we explore a more nuanced possibility: that private providers of public services perform better on dimensions of public service quality that are easier to measure and monitor, and vice versa. Using panel data on service quality in prisons in England and Wales in the period 1998 to 2012, we find that privately managed prisons do perform better on dimensions of quality, such as confinement conditions and prisoner activity, which are more easily measured, whereas public prisons perform better on dimensions of quality, such as levels of order and prisoner safety, which are less easily measured and managed.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 1096-7494
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 18 March 2015
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2017 17:36
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/85374

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