A state of agents? Sharpening the debate and evidence over the extent and impact of the transformation of governance

Carolyn J. Heinrich, Laurence E. Lynn, H. Brinton Milward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations

Abstract

We address focal questions about the growth of "third-party" government and new forms or tools of governance and the extent and impact of their increasing use to implement public policy and the "public will." Our goal is to sharpen this discussion by bringing empirical evidence to bear on key arguments and assertions in the debate. In particular, along with the other contributors to this journal issue, we look for evidence that government control and democratic responsiveness are loosening and that the public sector is evolving into a "state of agents," where government authority is widely dispersed and diluted and accountability to the public is weak. Although we find that the government exercises very limited oversight of for-profit and nonprofit "agents of the state," we also show that the organizational structures and incentives that governments establish to promote service quality, efficiency, equity, and effectiveness play a vital role in program and service outcomes, even if governments are not engaging directly in service provision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)i3-i19
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Volume20
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing

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