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Contracting Out Public Service Provision to Non-for-profit Firms


  • John Bennett


  • Elisabetta Iossa



We analyze the contracting out of public service provision to private firms and compare the performance of for-profit and non-for-profit firms. We consider two alternative settings.In the first,the firm has control rights, as under the UK's Private Finance Initiative(PFI). In the second,the goverment retains control rights,as under traditional procurement. The main insights of the paper can be summarized as follows. First, even when an NP cares more than an Fp does about social benefits,it does not follows that provision by an NP yields the higher social benefits.This is because the non-distribution constraint in of an NP may work against its incentives to invest.Second, the new procurement strategy of PFI increases the desirability of NP provision,relative to traditional procurement.Third, a crucial role in determing the desirability of NP provision is played bu the correlation between the effect of investment onsocial benefit and profit and the nature od the firm's investment.

Suggested Citation

  • John Bennett & Elisabetta Iossa, 2004. "Contracting Out Public Service Provision to Non-for-profit Firms," Economics and Finance Discussion Papers 04-12, Economics and Finance Section, School of Social Sciences, Brunel University.
  • Handle: RePEc:bru:bruedp:04-12

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Glaeser, Edward L. & Shleifer, Andrei, 2001. "Not-for-profit entrepreneurs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 99-115, July.
    2. Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2005. "Competition and Incentives with Motivated Agents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 616-636, June.
    3. John Bennett & Elisabetta Iossa, 2010. "Contracting out public service provision to not-for-profit firms," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(4), pages 784-802, October.
    4. Martimort, David & Pouyet, Jerome, 2008. "To build or not to build: Normative and positive theories of public-private partnerships," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 393-411, March.
    5. Bennett, John & Iossa, Elisabetta, 2006. "Building and managing facilities for public services," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(10-11), pages 2143-2160, November.
    6. Oliver Hart, 2003. "Incomplete Contracts and Public Ownership: Remarks, and an Application to Public-Private Partnerships," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(486), pages 69-76, March.
    7. Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2001. "Government Versus Private Ownership of Public Goods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1343-1372.
    8. Oliver Hart & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1997. "The Proper Scope of Government: Theory and an Application to Prisons," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1127-1161.
    9. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817, June.
    10. John Bennett & Elisabetta Iossa & Gabriella Legrenzi, 2003. "The Role of Commercial Non-profit Organizations in the Provision of Public Services," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(2), pages 335-347, Summer.
    11. Bilodeau, Marc & Slivinski, Al, 1996. "Volunteering nonprofit entrepreneurial services," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 117-127, October.
    12. Patrick Francois & Michael Vlassopoulos, 2008. "Pro-social Motivation and the Delivery of Social Services," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 54(1), pages 22-54, March.
    13. Susan Rose-Ackerman, 1996. "Altruism, Nonprofits, and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 701-728, June.
    14. repec:hrv:faseco:33078971 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Patrick W. Schmitz, 2000. "Partial Privatization and Incomplete Contracts: The Proper Scope of Government Reconsidered," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 57(4), pages 394-411, August.
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    17. Burton A. Weisbrod, 1997. "The future of the nonprofit sector: Its entwining with private enterprise and government," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(4), pages 541-555.
    18. Bos, Dieter & De Fraja, Gianni, 2002. "Quality and outside capacity in the provision of health services," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 199-218, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Athias, Laure & Saussier, Stéphane, 2007. "Contractual flexibility or rigidity for public private partnerships? Theory and evidence from infrastructure concession contracts," MPRA Paper 10541, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. John Bennett & Elisabetta Iossa, 2010. "Contracting out public service provision to not-for-profit firms," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(4), pages 784-802, October.
    3. Capuno, Joseph J., 2014. "Public–Private Service Delivery Arrangements and Incentive Schemes in Developing Asia," ADB Economics Working Paper Series 387, Asian Development Bank.
    4. Makris, Miltiadis, 2009. "Incentives for motivated agents under an administrative constraint," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 428-440, August.
    5. Nelarine Cornelius & Mathew Todres & Shaheena Janjuha-Jivraj & Adrian Woods & James Wallace, 2008. "Corporate Social Responsibility and the Social Enterprise," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 81(2), pages 355-370, August.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship
    • L33 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprise and Nonprofit Institutions; Privatization; Contracting Out

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