IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/iza/izadps/dp12401.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Outsourcing Public Services: Contractibility, Cost, and Quality

Author

Listed:
  • Andersson, Fredrik

    () (Lund University)

  • Jordahl, Henrik

    () (Research Institute of Industrial Economics)

  • Josephson, Jens

    () (Stockholm University)

Abstract

We review the literature on public sector outsourcing to explore if the theoretical predictions from the incomplete contracts literature hold up to recent empirical evidence. Guided by theory, we arrange services according to the type and magnitude of their contractibility problems. The empirical studies point at rather favourable outsourcing outcomes, in terms of costs and quality, for services without severe contracting problems. The picture is more mixed for services with tougher contracting problems, with the weight of the evidence in favour of public provision. This difference between services is largely in line with the property-rights framework and theories of incomplete contracts.

Suggested Citation

  • Andersson, Fredrik & Jordahl, Henrik & Josephson, Jens, 2019. "Outsourcing Public Services: Contractibility, Cost, and Quality," IZA Discussion Papers 12401, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp12401
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp12401.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Bennmarker, Helge & Grönqvist, Erik & Öckert, Björn, 2013. "Effects of contracting out employment services: Evidence from a randomized experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 68-84.
    2. Lazarus, Sheryl S. & McCullough, Gerard J., 2005. "The Impact of Outsourcing on Efficiency in Rural and Nonrural School Districts: The Case of Pupil Transportation in Minnesota," Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy, Mid-Continent Regional Science Association, vol. 35(1), pages 1-14.
    3. Iseki, Hiroyuki, 2010. "Effects of contracting on cost efficiency in US fixed-route bus transit service," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 457-472, August.
    4. Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1997. "Privatization in the United States," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(3), pages 447-471, Autumn.
    5. Luc Behaghel & Bruno Crépon & Marc Gurgand, 2014. "Private and Public Provision of Counseling to Job-Seekers: Evidence from a Large Controlled Experiment," Post-Print halshs-01067926, HAL.
    6. Andersson Fredrik, 2011. "Make-or-Buy Decisions and the Manipulability of Performance Measures," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-30, December.
    7. Luc Behaghel & Bruno Cr?pon & Marc Gurgand, 2014. "Private and Public Provision of Counseling to Job Seekers: Evidence from a Large Controlled Experiment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 142-174, October.
    8. repec:eee:labeco:v:45:y:2017:i:c:p:169-187 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. 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.
    10. Gregg, Paul & Grout, Paul A. & Ratcliffe, Anita & Smith, Sarah & Windmeijer, Frank, 2011. "How important is pro-social behaviour in the delivery of public services?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 758-766, August.
    11. Carol Propper & Simon Burgess & Denise Gossage, 2008. "Competition and Quality: Evidence from the NHS Internal Market 1991-9," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(525), pages 138-170, January.
    12. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1119-1158, December.
    13. 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.
    14. Canice Prendergast, 2003. "The Limits of Bureaucratic Efficiency," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(5), pages 929-958, October.
    15. Glaeser, Edward L. & Shleifer, Andrei, 2001. "Not-for-profit entrepreneurs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 99-115, July.
    16. Hermalin, Benjamin E & Katz, Michael L, 1991. "Moral Hazard and Verifiability: The Effects of Renegotiation in Agency," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(6), pages 1735-1753, November.
    17. Bulow, Jeremy & Klemperer, Paul, 1996. "Auctions versus Negotiations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 180-194, March.
    18. 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.
    19. Amitabh Chandra & Amy Finkelstein & Adam Sacarny & Chad Syverson, 2016. "Health Care Exceptionalism? Performance and Allocation in the US Health Care Sector," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(8), pages 2110-2144, August.
    20. 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.
    21. 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.
    22. Matthias Walter, 2011. "Some Determinants of Cost Efficiency in German Public Transport," Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, University of Bath, vol. 45(1), pages 1-20, January.
    23. 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.
    24. Elinder, Mikael & Jordahl, Henrik, 2013. "Political preferences and public sector outsourcing," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 43-57.
    25. Winterhager, Henrik & Heinze, Anja & Spermann, Alexander, 2006. "Deregulating job placement in Europe: A microeconometric evaluation of an innovative voucher scheme in Germany," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 505-517, August.
    26. Klemperer, Paul, 1999. " Auction Theory: A Guide to the Literature," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(3), pages 227-286, July.
    27. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1983. "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(1), pages 7-45, January.
    28. 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.
    29. 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.
    30. repec:taf:regstd:v:50:y:2016:i:12:p:2069-2080 is not listed on IDEAS
    31. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
    32. repec:oup:cesifo:v:63:y:2017:i:1:p:1-23. is not listed on IDEAS
    33. 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.
    34. Owen Thompson, 2011. "The estimated cost impact of privatizing student transportation in Minnesota school districts," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 146(3), pages 319-339, March.
    35. William Roy & Anne Yvrande-Billon, 2007. "Ownership, Contractual Practices and Technical Efficiency: The Case of Urban Public Transport in France," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00107375, HAL.
    36. Eggleston, Karen, 2008. "Soft budget constraints and the property rights theory of ownership," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 100(3), pages 425-427, September.
    37. Laun, Lisa & Thoursie, Peter Skogman, 2014. "Does privatisation of vocational rehabilitation improve labour market opportunities? Evidence from a field experiment in Sweden," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 59-72.
    38. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
    39. Robin G. Milne & Graeme Roy & Luis Angeles, 2012. "Competition, Quality and Contract Compliance: Evidence from Compulsory Competitive Tendering in Local Government in Great Britain, 1987–2000," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 33(4), pages 513-546, December.
    40. repec:hrv:faseco:33078971 is not listed on IDEAS
    41. Roomkin, Myron J & Weisbrod, Burton A, 1999. "Managerial Compensation and Incentives in For-Profit and Nonprofit Hospitals," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(3), pages 750-781, October.
    42. Germà Bel & Xavier Fageda, 2009. "Factors explaining local privatization: a meta-regression analysis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 139(1), pages 105-119, April.
    43. Suho Bae, 2010. "Public Versus Private Delivery Of Municipal Solid Waste Services: The Case Of North Carolina," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 28(3), pages 414-428, July.
    44. Schmidt, Klaus M., 1996. "Incomplete contracts and privatization," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 569-579, April.
    45. Jonathan Levin & Steven Tadelis, 2010. "Contracting For Government Services: Theory And Evidence From U.S. Cities," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(3), pages 507-541, September.
    46. William Roy & Anne Yvrande-Billon, 2007. "Ownership, Contractual Practices and Technical Efficiency: The Case of Urban Public Transport in France," Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, University of Bath, vol. 41(2), pages 257-282, May.
    47. Christopher M. Snyder & Robert P. Trost & R. Derek Trunkey, 2001. "Reducing Government Spending With Privatization Competitions: A Study Of The Department Of Defense Experience," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 108-117, February.
    48. Ann P. Bartel & Ann E. Harrison, 2005. "Ownership Versus Environment: Disentangling the Sources of Public-Sector Inefficiency," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 135-147, February.
    49. Tukiainen, Janne, 2008. "Testing for common costs in the City of Helsinki bus transit auctions," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 1308-1322, November.
    50. Okten, Cagla & Arin, K. Peren, 2006. "The Effects of Privatization on Efficiency: How Does Privatization Work?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(9), pages 1537-1556, September.
    51. José Manuel González‐Páramo & Pablo Hernández De Cos, 2005. "The Impact of Public Ownership and Competition on Productivity," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(4), pages 495-517, November.
    52. Stefan Szymanski, 1996. "The impact of compulsory competitive tendering on refuse collection services," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 17(3), pages 1-19, August.
    53. 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.
    54. Klemperer, Paul, 2002. "How (not) to run auctions: The European 3G telecom auctions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 829-845, May.
    55. 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.
    56. repec:taf:apeclt:v:23:y:2016:i:9:p:627-632 is not listed on IDEAS
    57. Manelli, Alejandro M & Vincent, Daniel R, 1995. "Optimal Procurement Mechanisms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(3), pages 591-620, May.
    58. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817.
    59. Trevor L. Brown & Matthew Potoski, 2003. "Managing contract performance: A transaction costs approach," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(2), pages 275-297.
    60. Bayer, Patrick & Pozen, David E, 2005. "The Effectiveness of Juvenile Correctional Facilities: Public versus Private Management," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(2), pages 549-589, October.
    61. Klemperer, Paul, 1999. " Auction Theory: A Guide to the Literature," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(3), pages 227-86, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    publicly provided goods; property rights; privatization;

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • L33 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprise and Nonprofit Institutions; Privatization; Contracting Out

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    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:iza:izadps:dp12401. 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: (Holger Hinte). General contact details of provider: http://www.iza.org .

    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 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.

    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.