Chapter 2: Accounting for values in prison privatization
This chapter studies values and risks at stake in prison privatization. In so doing, the intention is not to provide yet another study on the pros and cons of prison privatization. Several detailed and valuable studies have already been carried out in this respect, with mixed results (see for example Gaes et al. 2004; Harding 1997; James et al. 1997; Logan 1990; Moyle 2000; NAO 2003). Instead, the chapter investigates the organizational processes and calculative instruments by which different, potentially conflicting values and rationalities are mediated and dealt with. It examines the roles that seemingly mundane and apolitical accounting instruments, in particular instruments of prison rating and performance measurement, play in the organization and management of value complexity in prison privatization. Focusing on the case of prison privatization in England and Wales, during the years before the first private prison was opened in 1992 and the years that followed, the chapter explores processes of value reconfigurations through the lens of changed accounting practices. It examines the extent to which accounting instruments can play the role of a 'mediating instrument' (Miller and O'Leary 2007) where conflicting values are at stake. Since the 1980s, in the UK, market-oriented, private sector-based management and accounting frameworks have been introduced into the public sector in an attempt to increase efficiency in the allocation of financial and human resources, to enhance managerial accountability, and to aid experimentation with mixed public-private organization (Hood 1991; Humphrey et al. 1993; Kurunmäki and Miller 2011; Pollitt 1993).
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