Microeconomic Policy

Microeconomic Policy

A New Perspective

Clem Tisdell and Keith Hartley

This thoroughly accessible textbook shows students how microeconomic theory can be used and applied to major issues of public policy. In this way, it will improve their understanding of both microeconomic theory and policy and also develop their ability to critically assess them. Clem Tisdell and Keith Hartley have expanded upon their previous successful work on microeconomics. As a result, this new book is considerably updated with substantial chapter revisions, as well as new chapters dealing with business management, ownership, environmental issues, public choice, defence, conflict and terrorism.

Chapter 15: The Contract State

Clem Tisdell and Keith Hartley

Subjects: economics and finance, industrial economics


15.1 INTRODUCTION: CONTROVERSY AND THE CHOICE SET Government purchasing is big business and represents a significant proportion of economic activity in most countries. It involves governments at various levels (national, state, local, city) buying goods and services from private firms. In some markets, governments are major or even monopsony buyers. Public procurement policy involves governments in a set of choices about what to buy, who to buy it from, and how. In other words, decisions are required on the type of goods and services to be purchased, the choice of contractor, and the form of contract. Uncertainty increases the problem of choice. Questions arise about the most appropriate market, institutional and contractual arrangements for coping with uncertainty. At one extreme, uncertainty is absent and the competitive model is applicable. The government as a buyer knows what it wants; the products exist and are being bought and sold in something resembling a competitive market (for example, office furniture, buildings, houses, vehicles). In such circumstances, the state simply acts as a competitive buyer, specifies its requirements, and invites competitive tenders. The lowest bid is selected and a fixed-price contract is awarded. At the other extreme, governments are not always certain about the type of product that they wish to buy, as with high technology goods (for example, weapons, electronics, nuclear power and telecommunications). Moreover, within the domestic market, there might be relatively few potential suppliers and no other buyers (for example, defence, UK Post Office). In this case,...

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