Roberto Pedersini

The reform of public services: beyond institutions

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This article presents an analytical framework for the identification of the various critical issues in the reform of the different areas of the public sector. In the first section, the limitations and drawbacks of the analyses which exclusively rely on an institutional approach are highlighted. Since pure institutional analyses focus essentially on the definition of an efficient incentive structure to guide the actors involved in the reform process, they risk to lead to excessive determinism, as they underplay the autonomy of actors, and to encourage the search, often long and illusory, of "the" efficient regulatory arrangement. In the second section, with a view to overcome these difficulties, the three basic regulatory principles of initiatives aimed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of organizational and productive processes (authority, reputation, market) are illustrated and integrated in the analysis of the transformation of public services. This enables to emphasize the limits and implications of the different measures aimed to improve performance in the various areas of the public sector, from public administration to public utilities, and to address, in the final section, the key issue of the actual scope for reform in public services.

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