Privatisation, state restructuring and competition

Paddon, M 2013, Privatisation, state restructuring and competition, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Management, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Privatisation, state restructuring and competition
Author(s) Paddon, M
Year 2013
Abstract The last two decades of the 20th century saw a fundamental restructuring of the ways in which public services were delivered in developed economies. The dominant paradigm for reform over this period, New Public Management (NPM), had a significant focus on introducing greater competition into the provision of services, particularly between public organisations and agencies and the private sector. The promotion of competition was, arguably, the inherent “theory of change” in the reform agenda. The integrating essay for this thesis investigates the promotion of competition as a ”theory of change” as articulated through various forms of privatisation, and in particular, competitive tendering and contracting out. Through a re-examination of my previously published work on two primary national locations, the UK and Australia, and less detailed work on the Asia Pacific Region, I develop a thematic argument about NPM, its implementation and the responses to it. The integrating essay is accompanied by a portfolio of research published between 1991 and 2013 written with three objectives. The first was to engage in public policy debate about the dynamics of the NPM agenda. The second was to formulate and contribute to responses to privatisation and state restructuring by public bodies and agencies (predominantly local government) and by trade unions (nationally and internationally). The third objective was to analyse public management reform as a contributor to the restructuring of the state. This thesis is therefore concerned with the responses to privatisation, contracting out and competitive tendering from two perspectives: local government and organised labour (specifically national and international trade union organisations).

Two themes recur: the effects on the quality of public services and the impacts on employment. Both are examined in this thesis as they had been under-researched and were overshadowed in the research literature by an economistic concern with costs and technical efficiency. In the developed economies of the “north” (including the UK and Australia) the labour force that delivers public services is comprised, disproportionately, of women and hence employment impacts of competition and related reforms are experienced, disproportionately by women as is documented in the thesis. By the first decade of the 21st century, the significance of the NPM paradigm in driving reform has been waning as has the dependence on competition as the major ”theory of change”, even in developed countries which were enthusiastic implementers of the reforms. A case study of Australian urban water services illustrates technical and political barriers to more extensive privatisation. However, while policies to support or reform the “supply side” of service provision are no longer prevalent, the urban water sector displays the structural outcomes of reforms from competition and organisational consolidation in the previous decade. Overall, the empirical work in this submission was documenting the early stages of a transition to a system of public service provision with a diversity of providers, regulated directly and indirectly by the state. Some providers are still publicly owned but most have been radically reformed internally.

Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Management
Keyword(s) privatisation
state restructuring
contracting out and competitive tendering
New Public Management
privatisation and employment
gender impacts of privatisation and competitive tendering
international dimensions of privatisation
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Created: Tue, 05 Aug 2014, 10:00:43 EST by Denise Paciocco
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