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Do environmental and task characteristics matter in the control of externalized local public services?: Unveiling the relevance of party characteristics and citizens' offstage voice

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  • Daniela Cristofoli
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    Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to investigate the mechanisms adopted by cities to control the provision of externalized public services and to explore the determinants of such control choices. Design/methodology/approach - The paper presents the results of a multiple case study based on the experiences of three cities and three public services (transport, solid waste collection and home care services for the elderly), where control mechanisms and their possible antecedents were analyzed. Findings - The results show that the control models found in the cases analyzed do not correspond to the “pure” patterns described in the private sector literature and that the factors identified by management control contributions do not seem to be exhaustive in explaining the configuration of control systems in the public sector. While environmental and task characteristics only partially explain the adoption of certain configurations of control, the features of the control systems seem to be rather influenced by variables that are related to party characteristics. Originality/value - The paper shows that the combinations of control mechanisms are more multifaceted than those presented in the literature, and that the factors identified in the private sector literature do not seem to explain comprehensively the configuration of control systems in the public sector.

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    Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal.

    Volume (Year): 23 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 3 (March)
    Pages: 350-372

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    Handle: RePEc:eme:aaajpp:v:23:y:2010:i:3:p:350-372
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    1. Markus, M. Lynne & Pfeffer, Jeffrey, 1983. "Power and the design and implementation of accounting and control systems," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 8(2-3), pages 205-218, May.
    2. Danny Miller & Peter H. Friesen, 1984. "A Longitudinal Study of the Corporate Life Cycle," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(10), pages 1161-1183, October.
    3. Hofstede, Geert, 1981. "Management control of public and not-for-profit activities," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 193-211, July.
    4. Dekker, Henri C., 2004. "Control of inter-organizational relationships: evidence on appropriation concerns and coordination requirements," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 27-49, January.
    5. Caglio, Ariela & Ditillo, Angelo, 2008. "A review and discussion of management control in inter-firm relationships: Achievements and future directions," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 33(7-8), pages 865-898.
    6. William G. Ouchi, 1979. "A Conceptual Framework for the Design of Organizational Control Mechanisms," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 25(9), pages 833-848, September.
    7. Spekle, Roland F., 2001. "Explaining management control structure variety: a transaction cost economics perspective," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 26(4-5), pages 419-441.
    8. Jehiel Zif, 1981. "Managerial Strategic Behavior in State-Owned Enterprises---Business and Political Orientations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(11), pages 1326-1339, November.
    9. Yair Aharoni & Zvi Maimon & Eli Segev, 1978. "Performance and Autonomy in Organizations: Determining Dominant Environmental Components," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 24(9), pages 949-959, May.
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