Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Edited by Susan Rose-Ackerman and Peter L. Lindseth
Chapter 31: Organizational Structure, Institutional Culture and Norm Compliance in an Era of Privatization: The Case of US Military Contractors
Laura A. Dickinson* The privatization of governmental functions has long since become a fixture of the American political landscape. From the management of prisons, to the provision of welfare and other services, to the running of schools, federal and state governments in the United States have handed over more and more tasks to either for-profit or nonprofit private enterprises. Indeed, a 2003 Harvard Law Review symposium went so far as to declare ours an ‘Era of Privatization’ (Symposium: Public Values in an Era of Privatization 2003). While some scholars have extolled the cost savings that privatization may bring, others have expressed deep misgivings (for example, Domberger and Jensen 1997: 72–5), arguing that privatization threatens to erode legal and democratic accountability (Dolovich 2005). Such scholars worry that, because private actors are usually not subject to the constitutional and administrative law norms that apply to governments (Metzger 2003: 1374–76), any purported efficiency gains from privatization may come at the cost of losing important public values.1 More recently, an emerging middle-ground position embraces privatization while seeking new mechanisms for extending public values through contract (for example, Freeman 2000), democratic participation (for example, Aman 2004), and other modes of accountability.2 Despite this rich debate about privatization in the domestic context, far less attention has been paid to the simultaneous privatization of what might be called the foreign affairs functions of government. Yet privatization is as significant in the international realm as it is domestically. The United States now regularly relies on private...
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