Problems in Privatization Theory and Practice in State and Local Governments

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This study explores in depth the theoretical and practical foundations of privatization. The argument is that decision makers at the state and local levels have largely disregarded in the 1990s the issues of propriety and legitimacy that were so prevalent in the 1980s, and by so doing, have laid the basis for privatization to expand. The strengths and weaknesses of the various organizational types are examined; and based on this examination, the study outlines the elements of a comprehensive privatization strategy. It also offers a rational typology for public-private partnerships based on function, risk, financial return to the partners, and different outcome objectives. Last, the perspective shifts to policy issues related to privatization, an empirical analysis of differentials in salaries and benefits paid to employees of public and private organizations, and concludes that privatization has had a negative impact upon compensatory equity in the US.


“Professor Becker has authored an important new book on privatization that makes a significant contribution to the literature in the field. The book successfully combines a discussion of both the policy issues as well as the administration issues involved in privatization. For example, the book moves easily between the policy issues of what government services should and should not be privatized and the administration issues of what skill sets are required of government managers working in a privatization environment. . . The book is concise, well-organized and will be useful as a text . . . in schools of public administration, urban planning, social work and others that deal with privatization and urban service delivery issues. The book should also appeal to government administrators looking for a fair and balanced treatment of privatization and the major policy and administration issues involved.” – Lawrence L. Martin, Columbia University

Table of Contents

Table of contents (main headings):
1. Problems in Privatization Theory and Practice in State and Local Governments: An Overview
2. Into the Danger Zone: Expanding the Legitimate Scope of Privatization (Theoretical Paradigm; Determining the Life of Public Service; Patterns among the States; Local Service Delivery; Future Battlegrounds – The Case of Prisons; Application to Other Privatization Initiatives)
3. Which Types of Organizations Should Perform the Work of Government (Interdependence; Routine and/or Disagreeable Tasks; Outside Technical Expertise and Innovation; Comprehensive Privatization Strategy; Weakening of the Traditional Paradigm; Problem of Choice)
4. Strange Partners: The Dynamics of Public-Private Partnerships (Function, Risk, and Return; Nature of Involvement)
5. The New Centurions: Administering Privatization (Policy Determination; Planning; Programming; Monitoring; Evaluation)
6. Correcting the Negative Impacts upon Providers and Recipients of Privatized Services (Wages and Salaries; Benefits; Work Load)

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