IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/iae/iaewps/wp2004n29.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Efficiency of Public Sector Outsourcing Contracts: A Literature Review

Author

Listed:
  • Paul H. Jensen

    (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

  • Robin E. Stonecash

    (Australian Graduate School of Management, Universities of Sydney and New South Wales)

Abstract

Outsourcing the provision of traditionally publicly-provided services has become commonplace in most industrialized nations. Despite its prevalence, there still is no consensus in the academic literature on the magnitude (and determinants) of expected cost savings to the government, nor the sources of those savings. After articulating the differences between outsourcing and privatization, this article considers the arguments for (and against) outsourcing and then examines the empirical evidence pertaining to whether any observed savings occur and whether they persist over time. In addition, we examine the existing evidence for the "redistribution hypothesis" and the "quality-shading hypothesis", which critics have used to argue that outsourcing may result in lower government expenditure, but it does so by lowering wages and conditions for employees and lower quality services. Finally, we consider the impact of contract design on outsourcing outcomes. While the nature of the risk-incentive trade-off is well-known in the contract theory literature, some new empirical work has explored the application of this framework to outsourcing in order to understand the impact of the risk premium on outsourcing outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul H. Jensen & Robin E. Stonecash, 2004. "The Efficiency of Public Sector Outsourcing Contracts: A Literature Review," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2004n29, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  • Handle: RePEc:iae:iaewps:wp2004n29
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/downloads/working_paper_series/wp2004n29.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. repec:hrv:faseco:33077889 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Haskel, Jonathan & Sanchis, Amparo, 1995. "Privatisation and X-Inefficiency: A Bargaining Approach," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(3), pages 301-321, September.
    3. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 2002. "Relational Contracts and the Theory of the Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 39-84.
    4. Fehr, Ernst & Falk, Armin, 2002. "Psychological foundations of incentives," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 687-724, May.
    5. Bajari, Patrick & Tadelis, Steven, 2001. "Incentives versus Transaction Costs: A Theory of Procurement Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(3), pages 387-407, Autumn.
    6. AndréS GóMez-Lobo & Stefan Szymanski, 2001. "A Law of Large Numbers: Bidding and Compulsory Competitive Tendering for Refuse Collection Contracts," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 18(1), pages 105-113, February.
    7. Stefan Szymanski, 1993. "Cheap rubbish? Competitive tendering and contracting out in refuse collection, 1981-88," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 14(3), pages 109-130, August.
    8. Domberger, Simon & Jensen, Paul, 1997. "Contracting Out by the Public Sector: Theory, Evidence, Prospects," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(4), pages 67-78, Winter.
    9. Tirole, Jean, 1994. "The Internal Organization of Government," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(1), pages 1-29, January.
    10. Francois, Patrick, 2000. "'Public service motivation' as an argument for government provision," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 275-299, November.
    11. Rajesh K. Aggarwal & Andrew A. Samwick, 1999. "The Other Side of the Trade-off: The Impact of Risk on Executive Compensation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 65-105, February.
    12. Jean-Jacques Laffont & Jean Tirole, 1993. "A Theory of Incentives in Procurement and Regulation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121743, December.
    13. Boardman, Anthony E & Vining, Aidan R, 1989. "Ownership and Performance in Competitive Environments: A Comparison of the Performance of Private, Mixed, and State-Owned Enterprises," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 1-33, April.
    14. Daniel A. Ackerberg & Maristella Botticini, 2002. "Endogenous Matching and the Empirical Determinants of Contract Form," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(3), pages 564-591, June.
    15. Simon Burgess & Marisa Ratto, 2003. "The Role of Incentives in the Public Sector: Issues and Evidence," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(2), pages 285-300, Summer.
    16. Domberger, Simon & Hall, Christine & Li, Eric Ah Lik, 1995. "The Determinants of Price and Quality in Competitively Tendered Contracts," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(433), pages 1454-1470, November.
    17. Andrei Shleifer, 1998. "State versus Private Ownership," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 133-150, Fall.
    18. Eoin Reeves & Michael Barrow, 2000. "The Impact of Contracting Out on the Costs of Refuse Collection Services - The Case of Ireland," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 31(2), pages 129-150.
    19. Domberger, Simon & Piggott, John, 1986. "Privatization Policies and Public Enterprise: A Survey," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 62(177), pages 145-162, June.
    20. Williamson, Oliver E, 1979. "Transaction-Cost Economics: The Governance of Contractural Relations," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 233-261, October.
    21. Blom-Hansen, Jens, 2003. "Is Private Delivery of Public Services Really Cheaper? Evidence from Public Road Maintenance in Denmark," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 115(3-4), pages 419-438, June.
    22. Edwards, Franklin R & Stevens, Barbara J, 1978. "The Provision of Municipal Sanitation Services by Private Firms: An Empirical Analysis of the Efficiency of Alternative Market Structures and Regulatory Arrangements," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(2), pages 133-147, December.
    23. Francine Lafontaine, 1992. "Agency Theory and Franchising: Some Empirical Results," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(2), pages 263-283, Summer.
    24. Allen, Douglas W & Lueck, Dean, 1999. "The Role of Risk in Contract Choice," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(3), pages 704-736, October.
    25. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
    26. Robin Milne & Magnus McGee, 1992. "Compulsory competitive tendering in the NHS: a new look at some old estimates," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 13(3), pages 96-111, August.
    27. Brian A. Jacob & Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Rotten Apples: An Investigation of the Prevalence and Predictors of Teacher Cheating," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 843-877.
    28. John Quiggin, 1994. "The Fiscal Gains from Contracting Out: Transfers or Efficiency Improvements," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 27(3), pages 97-102, July.
    29. Posner, Richard A, 1997. "Social Norms and the Law: An Economic Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 365-369, May.
    30. Demsetz, Harold, 1982. "Barriers to Entry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 47-57, March.
    31. Artz, Kendall W. & Brush, Thomas H., 2000. "Asset specificity, uncertainty and relational norms: an examination of coordination costs in collaborative strategic alliances," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 337-362, April.
    32. Domberger, S & Meadowcroft, S & Thompson, D, 1987. "The impact of competitive tendering on the costs of hospital domestic services," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 8(4), pages 39-54, November.
    33. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
    34. Steven Tadelis, 2009. "Auctions Versus Negotiations in Procurement: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(2), pages 372-399, October.
    35. Rogers Ahlbrandt, 1973. "Efficiency in the provision of fire services," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 1-15, September.
    36. Erin Anderson & David C. Schmittlein, 1984. "Integration of the Sales Force: An Empirical Examination," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(3), pages 385-395, Autumn.
    37. Atif Mian, 2008. "Incentives in Markets, Firms, and Governments," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(2), pages 273-306, October.
    38. Oliver Hart, 2001. "Norms and the Theory of the Firm," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1923, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    39. Hubbard, Thomas N, 2001. "Contractual Form and Market Thickness in Trucking," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(2), pages 369-386, Summer.
    40. Canice Prendergast, 2002. "The Tenuous Trade-off between Risk and Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(5), pages 1071-1102, October.
    41. Bruno S. Frey & Reto Jegen, 2001. "Motivation Crowding Theory," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 589-611, December.
    42. Kevin Murdock, 2002. "Intrinsic Motivation and Optimal Incentive Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(4), pages 650-671, Winter.
    43. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1991. "Privatization and Incentives," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 84-105, Special I.
    44. King, S.P., 1998. "Privatization: Does Reality Match the Rhetoric?," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 634, The University of Melbourne.
    45. Milgrom, Paul, 1989. "Auctions and Bidding: A Primer," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 3-22, Summer.
    46. E. Dijkgraaf & R. Gradus, 2003. "Cost Savings of Contracting Out Refuse Collection," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 149-161, June.
    47. Edward P. Lazear, 2000. "Performance Pay and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1346-1361, December.
    48. Rafael La Porta & Florencio López-de-Silanes, 1999. "The Benefits of Privatization: Evidence from Mexico," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1193-1242.
    49. 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.
    50. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 489-520.
    51. Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2003. "Incentives, Choice, and Accountability in the Provision of Public Services," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(2), pages 235-249, Summer.
    52. John Cubbin & Simon Domberger & Shirley Meadowcroft, 1987. "Competitive tendering and refuse collection: identifying the sources of efficiency gains," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 8(3), pages 49-58, August.
    53. Karlaftis, Matthew & McCarthy, Patrick, 1999. "The Effect of Privatization on Public Transit Costs," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 27-43, July.
    54. Francine Lafontaine & Margaret E. Slade, 1998. "Incentive Contracting and the Franchise Decision," NBER Working Papers 6544, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    55. Pierre André Chiappori & Bernard Salanié, 2002. "Testing Contract Theory: A Survey of Some Recent Work," CESifo Working Paper Series 738, CESifo.
    56. P. K. Edwards & Colin Whitston, 1991. "Workers Are Working Harder: Effort and Shop-floor Relations in the 1980s," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 29(4), pages 593-601, December.
    57. repec:hrv:faseco:30727607 is not listed on IDEAS
    58. McAfee, R Preston & McMillan, John, 1987. "Auctions and Bidding," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 699-738, June.
    59. James A. Brickley & Frederick H. Dark & Michael S. Weisbach, 1991. "An Agency Perspective on Franchising," Financial Management, Financial Management Association, vol. 20(1), Spring.
    60. John Quiggin, 2002. "Contracting Out: Promise and Performance," The Economic and Labour Relations Review, , vol. 13(1), pages 88-104, June.
    61. Kenneth S. Corts, 2004. "The Effect of Repeated Interaction on Contract Choice: Evidence from Offshore Drilling," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(1), pages 230-260, April.
    62. David Fairris & Mark Brenner, 2001. "Workplace Transformation and the Rise in Cumulative Trauma Disorders: Is There a Connection?," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 22(1), pages 15-28, January.
    63. Nash, C A, 1993. "British Bus Deregulation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(419), pages 1042-1049, July.
    64. Simon Burgess & Marisa Ratto, 2003. "The Role of Incentives in the Public Sector: Issues and Evidence," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 03/071, The Centre for Market and Public Organisation, University of Bristol, UK.
    65. Jeffry M. Netter & William L. Megginson, 2001. "From State to Market: A Survey of Empirical Studies on Privatization," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(2), pages 321-389, June.
    66. Coase, R H, 2000. "The Acquisition of Fisher Body by General Motors," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(1), pages 15-31, April.
    67. Stephen King & Rohan Pitchford, 1998. "Privatisation in Australia: Understanding the Incentives in Public and Private Firms," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 31(4), pages 313-328, December.
    68. Domberger, S & Meadowcroft, S & Thompson, D J, 1986. "Competitive tendering and efficiency: the case of refuse collection," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 7(4), pages 69-87, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Tarja Niemelä & Sofia Kauko-Valli, 2014. "Imbalance of Power: Social Service Entrepreneurs’ Experiences of Entrepreneur-Municipality Relationship," Journal of Entrepreneurship, Management and Innovation, Fundacja Upowszechniająca Wiedzę i Naukę "Cognitione", vol. 10(2), pages 119-140.
    2. José Manuel Cordero Ferrera & Francisco Pedraja Chaparro & Javier Salinas Jiménez, 2009. "Efficiency measurement in the Spanish cadastral units through DEA," Working Papers 2009/35, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    3. Gabriel OBERMANN, 2007. "The Role Of The State As Guarantor Of Public Services: Transaction Cost Issues And Empirical Evidence," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 78(3), pages 475-500, September.
    4. Hermano, Víctor & Martín-Cruz, Natalia, 2013. "How to Deliver Foreign Aid? The Case of Projects Governed by the Spanish International Agency," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 298-314.
    5. Changhee Kim & Hyunjung Kim & Kanghwa Choi, 2020. "Efficiency Analysis of Public Library Services Based on Establishing Entity and Outsourcing," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(21), pages 1-15, November.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Paul H. Jensen & Robin E. Stonecash, 2005. "Contract Efficiency in the Presence of Demand and Cost Uncertainty," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2005n01, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    2. Andersson, Fredrik & Jordahl, Henrik, 2011. "Outsourcing Public Services: Ownership, Competition, Quality and Contracting," Working Paper Series 874, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    3. Committee, Nobel Prize, 2016. "Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström: Contract Theory," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 2016-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
    4. Eduard Marinov, 2016. "The 2016 Nobel Prize in Economics," Economic Thought journal, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences - Economic Research Institute, issue 6, pages 97-149.
    5. Henry Ohlsson, 2003. "Ownership and Production Costs: Choosing between Public Production and Contracting-Out in the Case of Swedish Refuse Collection," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 24(4), pages 451-476, December.
    6. Fredrik Andersson & Henrik Jordahl & Jens Josephson, 2019. "Outsourcing Public Services: Contractibility, Cost, and Quality," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 65(4), pages 349-372.
    7. Germa Bel & Anton Costas, 2006. "Do Public Sector Reforms Get Rusty? Local Privatization in Spain," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24.
    8. Makris, Miltiadis, 2009. "Incentives for motivated agents under an administrative constraint," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 428-440, August.
    9. Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2005. "Competition and Incentives with Motivated Agents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 616-636, June.
    10. Giuseppe Cinquegrana & Serena Migliardo & Domenico Sarno, 2016. "Comparative analysis of private and public provision of the water and waste services by the Italian municipalities," ECONOMIA PUBBLICA, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2016(3), pages 149-176.
    11. Robin G. Milne & Robert E. Wright, 2004. "Competition and Costs: Evidence from Competitive Tendering in the Scottish National Health Service," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 51(1), pages 1-23, February.
    12. Peter Birch Sørensen, 2015. "Reforming Public Service Provision: What have we learned?," EPRU Working Paper Series 2015-01, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    13. Gibbons, Robert, 2005. "Four forma(lizable) theories of the firm?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 200-245, October.
    14. Ranjani Krishnan & Deepa Mani, 2020. "Uncertainty and Compensation Design in Strategic Interfirm Contracts†," Contemporary Accounting Research, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 37(1), pages 542-574, March.
    15. McCausland, David & Pouliakas, Konstantinos & Theodossiou, Ioannis, 2005. "Some are Punished and Some are Rewarded: A Study of the Impact of Performance Pay on Job Satisfaction," MPRA Paper 14243, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Pierre Koning & J. Vyrastekova & S. Onderstal, 2006. "Team incentives in public organisations; an experimental study," CPB Discussion Paper 60, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    17. Simon Burgess & Carol Propper & Marisa Ratto & Emma Tominey, 2017. "Incentives in the Public Sector: Evidence from a Government Agency," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(605), pages 117-141, October.
    18. Jean-Etienne de Bettignies & Thomas W. Ross, 2010. "The Economics of Public–Private Partnerships: Some Theoretical Contributions," Chapters, in: Graeme A. Hodge & Carsten Greve & Anthony E. Boardman (ed.), International Handbook on Public–Private Partnerships, chapter 7, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    19. Kirsten Bregn, 2013. "Detrimental Effects of Performance-Related Pay in the Public Sector? On the Need for a Broader Theoretical Perspective," Public Organization Review, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 21-35, March.
    20. Germà Bel & Xavier Fageda, 2008. "Privatization and competition in the delivery of local services: An empirical examination of the dual market hypothesis," Working Papers XREAP2008-04, Xarxa de Referència en Economia Aplicada (XREAP), revised Apr 2008.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iae:iaewps:wp2004n29. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/mimelau.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Sheri Carnegie (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/mimelau.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.