P08 Privatisation Research Directions

Corresponding chair and review group chair

Professor Carsten Greve, Copenhagen Business School

Eoin Reeves, University of Limerick Professor

Adjunct Professor Graeme Hodge, Monash University


New privatisaton arenas are occurring in today’s public services. New privatisaton arenas include, for example, our brave new world of ‘the privatised presence’ of today’s internet technostructure, where the tech giants sometimes have a private power which can overwhelm the capacity of even the world’s biggest governments to act independently of the private sector or operate as a strong independent regulator. Some contemporary governments (such as Australia) have been known to obsessively outsourcing everything. Perhaps the very notion of a pure public or private domain is now outdated - because whilst we habitually employ such purity in politcal rhetoric and in law, the operating environment has long been hybrid? Hybridity appears as the new norm. There is nevertheless still much to learn from our recent experience in adoptng private entities to help deal with public governance issues. There is also much to think about in terms of future challenges as, for example, we plan smarter cites, and make more room for big private foundatons in public management.

Privatisaton as a concept is nevertheless still often associated with the early sell-offs of public utlites and the contractng-out of public sector services. Both were seen as achieving their goals by some, whilst others were skeptcal. In any case, these reforms were emulated around the world. To some, though, this populist privatisaton message was inaccurate, and included more myth and marketing than rigorous research evidence. We now know from the global evidence whilst they could sometimes work well, sell offs and outsourcing efforts both required intelligent regulatory structures, knowledge about contracts, strong professional capacity, and a government ready to step in and control and sometmes even save powerful new private actors when necessary – so citizens can go about their daily life without excessive service interruptons.

Both ‘newer’ and 'older' privatisaton ideas, including reverse privatisaton at state and municipal levels, have a host of interestng angles to pursue, and these might potentally employ a wide portolio of excitng theoretcal frameworks and research methodologies. The hybrid nature of organisations that privatisaton causes is relevant to explore in public management. This panel aims to explore such ideas in balanced, rigorous and thoughtul ways with the ultmate aim of challenging us to view privatisaton as an issue for tomorrow’s scholars. It is clear that research arenas such as public management and administraton, development economics, politcs, governance history, to name a few examples, all deserve a seat at the table.

Whilst all research methods will be considered, single case studies with limited implicatons outside of one jurisdicton will not, however, be prioritsed for inclusion in the pane.